A strange week with the press advocating that you go vegan, or give up alcohol or start a strict bodybuilding programme or maybe even all three at once. I’m not going to do any of these but I am thinking about ‘prehab’ before a forthcoming knee operation. It’s a week of establishing a routine in an uncertain limbo after being made redundant late last year and everyone else going back to work this week. I am determined to enjoy the unexpected leisure time.
Writing this blog, cooking new recipes, taking photos, experimenting with food styling is part of this process and I think it will sustain me over the next few months.
I arrived back from Paris early on New Year’s Day with my suitcase crammed with my foodie finds and the leftovers. I realise I am channelling my mother here and using up every stale croissant and end bit of cheese.
There are some fruit jellies from Fauchon which I calculate cost 1 Euro each, some chestnut and clementine purée which I am gong to use on a pavlova or in some mini Mont Blancs, a string of plump French garlic, jars of sun dried tomatoes and roasted peppers because I reckoned they were a bargain and Dijon mustard because it’s a habit of mine that I have to buy mustard whenever I go to France.
We went to see An American in Paris with tickets bought through the ‘Get into London Theatre’ programme which sells discounted seats to West End shows for January and February is a great way of having a treat in the post Christmas lull. Beforehand we ate at the Blue Posts in Rupert St which has been taken over by the team who run the Palomar, almost next door and the Barbary in Covent Garden. There’s good men of bar snacks including this Coombeshead Farm bread and butter, Longaniza sausage as pictured below. We also ate sausage rolls which are cooked to order, Isle of Mull Cheddar with oatcakes and chutney, mushroom paté with smoked almonds and a prawn mousse with gherkins.
The week ended with a galette des rois made to Raymond Blanc’s recipe which also includes a layer of caramelised pear. I used Jus-Rol all butter puff pastry which I buy from Waitrose. If you buy puff pastry as everybody inevitably does, it’s important to get a butter one as it makes all the difference to the flavour. I made a crown, drawing and cutting the shape through two sheets of gold paper from Paperchase. It was a long time since I had fiddled about with pencil and paper and sellotape but it was fun to see my homemade crown on top of the galette.