Monthly Archives: April 2010

>Pomerol jelly from one of my favourite blogs!


Since my jellied punch of a few weeks ago, which was marvellous, I have been fantasising almost constantly about jellied drinks and spiked jellies and here I have found one other blogger with a similar obsession!  I can’t wait to have some left over Pomerol to try it! 
But here is the recipe as I found it on “Chocolate and Zucchini“.
Gelée de Pomerol
– 200 ml Pomerol wine (substitute any other wine)
– 2 tsp sugar
– 2 sheets of leaf gelatin (or one half envelope of powdered gelatin)
If you are using leaf gelatin, put the sheets in cold water to soften. Bring the wine and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, and boil for two minutes. Squeeze the sheets of gelatin dry in your hand, take the saucepan off the heat, and stir in the gelatin until completely dissolved. Pour into a clean glass jar, close the lid, let cool for 15 minutes on the counter, then transfer into the fridge until set — it should take about two hours. Serve as a condiment for cold meat.
Try using it with cold meat or ham and let me know how it is! I’ll use the Pomerol La Croix Toulifaut by the Janouex family if I am blessed enough to get a bottle…
Sketch by C. aged 9.

Salmon and spinach pie- A classic quick fix!

>Salmon and spinach pie

2 round circles of puff pastry (frozen, all butter)
3 nice slices of smoked salmon
A big bag of spring greens or spinach leaves
1 Pot of crème fraiche
1 egg
Grated gruyere or parmesan 50g
Black pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg or all-spices

Garlic clove
Butter for cooking the spinach 50g


Warm the oven: pastry raises better in a hot oven. Now oil and prepare a pie dish and lay one circle of pastry in it. Prick with a fork. Cut the salmon up and scatter at the bottom of the dish. Beat the egg, pepper and cream together and keep aside.

Wash the greens thoroughly in cold water with a dash of vinegar and drain well.
Put the butter in a thick cast-iron pan and melt the spinach on low heat until it has reduced to half its volume! Thankfully there is plenty of it in season now.
Mix the cream and egg with the spinach and reserve. Add the grated cheese, the pressed garlic and the spices.

Now pour this on top of the salmon, cover with the second circle of pastry and glaze with a bit of egg yolk – what’s left in the pan where you beat your egg is enough.

With a sharp knife, incise the crust with a pretty but simple pattern and put in the oven at 210°C on the middle rack. Bake for 20mn or until the pastry has raised and taken a golden tinge.

Serve hot but be careful because pies tend to remain very hot inside: that is why they make traditional picnic food and used to be eaten in the field after a hard morning’s work! Their crust acts like a natural lid and keeps food piping hot for very long… Which is very handy when your children only arrive at the table after you’ve shouted for twenty minutes… But maybe it’s just us!

>Classic Cesar salad

>This is dedicated to a lovely boy who has recently adopted it as his favourite dish… A dish signed with love – and illustrated by a kiss shot at the V&A.

Classic Cesar salad
Ingredients list for the sauce:
I soft boiled egg
2 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
1 spoon full of lemon juice
15 cl of virgin olive oil
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

You will also need:
1 Romaine lettuce
A few thick slices of stale bread
Shavings of parmesan

This is a classic salad and it is a great “fast food” recipe: It is made by the time you dial the Pizza number and is much healthier…

First boil your egg (2 minutes from boiling point) in a small pan. Carefully peel the shell off: the egg white should be cooked but the yolk runny. If under-cooked it can be a tricky operation… However messy it gets, put the egg into a blender then add all the other ingredients one by one.

Blitz for a few seconds. It will go paler and thicker, a bit like a mayonnaise.
Now cut up your bread and fry the chunks in olive oil quickly. Dry on a kitchen towel.

Wash your lettuce and cut it up into a large bowl. Pour the sauce evenly. Scatter the “croutons” and parmesan on top. The creamy white sauce over the green leaves make a very pretty dish! No wonder it’s a restaurant favourite.

If you wish to make this a fuller meal, you can add fillets of cooked chicken or sliced ham. But I prefer it pure and simple and true to the original!

>Travels around my bedside table


My bedside table or rather the mahogany butler’s tray next to it was the first item of furniture I bought in London in Portobello antique arcade when I arrived in Britain- it was probably the very first piece of furniture I ever bought. It has a nice gleaming surface, large enough to carry a good ten to 15 books and is always cluttered with lots even though I try to read my way through to the polished wood…
Currently, I am reading Keats “Letters to Fanny Brawne” and Epicurus “Letter to Menecus”.
Letters are so moving because they were once written for somebody and have been read and necessarily have had an influence on somebody’s life… A real, tangible influence that still seems to resonate through. When Epicure says: “He who is not satisfied with what he has got, be he the king of the world, will never be happy”, his pupil stood and took note – and so do we… Epicure was not an ‘epicurean’ but more of a stoic, as obvious from this quote! He never did advocate a life of unbridled pleasure but a life of measure. Of course, he says man seeks pleasure in all aspects of his life. But pleasure is merely defined by the lack of pain – hardly “epicurean” indeed.
I also have next to me the beautiful catalogue of the current Van Gogh exhibition held at the RA”The artist and his letters”. In this age of  speedy texts and emails, it is refreshing to browse through a collection of artist letters, illustrated with ink or watercolours, with sketches and vignettes of his life and work. This took time to write and then time to get there. The recipient was then expected to take time to read it : Communication was slow and rich. Letters had value and were kept for future generations to enjoy. Imagine if Fanny had not passed on Keats letters to her children! Imagine if Keats or his friends had kept Fanny’s replies with the same care she showed in keeping his…
Other books on my bedside table include an ethnological  study called “Watching the English” and “Tea with Mr Rochester”, a series of short stories with a quaint post-war charm published by Persephone Books in their dove grey cover. More on that when I have finished!
Poetry corner:
I am constantly at the moment dipping into the following poetry books:
  • “Birthday Letters” by Ted Hughes is a moving tribute to his wife Sylvia Plath, with the first poem being written 10 years after her death then every year after that. That’s real love to me…
  • “Rapture” by Carol Ann Duffy, this year Poet Laureate
  • The poems of Keats in the lovely new edition by Claire Tomalin for Penguin classics.
To Sorrow,
I bade good-morrow, 
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
I would deceive her,
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind.
(From Endymion.)

>Carol Anne Duffy- poet Laureate


In a statement last year, Duffy said she was “honoured and humbled” to be the first female laureate in more than 340 years.
“Poetry is all around us, all of the time, whether in song or in speech or on the page, and we turn to it when events, personal or public, matter most,” she said.
“In accepting this Laureateship, I hope to contribute to people’s understanding of what poetry can do, and where it can be found.”
I discovered Carol Ann Duffy’s work with “The world’s wife” and got hooked on this intoxicating mixture of humour, wit and poetry. Since then, I always go back to reading her poems when I feel in need of a caustic pick-me-up or a romantic, passionate embrace… In her latest collection “Rapture”, which deservedly won the T.S Eliot prize, she find timeless accents of deep love and longing while keeping her language cristal-clear and as simple as the emotions she describes. I particularly enjoy “Hour”; so here it is as a gift:
By Carol Ann Duffy
Love’s time’s beggar, but even a single hour,
bright as a dropped coin, makes love rich.
We find an hour together, spend it not on flowers
or wine, but the whole of the summer sky and a grass ditch.
For thousands of seconds we kiss; you hair
like treasure on the ground; the Midas light 
turning your limbs to gold. Time slows, for here
we are millionaires, backhanding the night
so nothing dark will end our shining hour,
no jewel hold a candle to the cuckoo spit
hung from a blade of grass at your ear,
no chandelier or spotlight see you better lit
than here. Now. Time hates love, wants love poor,
but love spins gold, gold from straw.