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Showing posts from June, 2012

PROLOGUE: LIÈGE - 'LE GRAND DÉPART'

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Le Tour traditionally begins with a Prologue Time Trial in which the individual cyclists compete "contre le montre" (against the clock). Tour de France rankings are based on time (the overall leader wears the Maillot Jaune/Yellow Jersey) though there are also competitions for points won (the Green Jersey), climbing (polka dot King of the Mountains jersey), and best young rider. The previous year's winner (in this case, Australian cyclist Cadel Evans) always goes last in the Time Trial, and wears the yellow jersey. A test of pure speed and power, the Prologue Time Trial may give an indication of the overall winner of the Tour, though not always, but the serious contenders, who cannot afford to lose a single second, will undoubtedly reveal their form, and will be looking to notch up some impressive results to set them on their course for the rest of the Tour, and to psych out their rivals.


Go to most bars in Belgium, and you'll probably find the ubiquitous Jupiler bee…

A GASTRO TOUR DE FRANCE

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Demon Cook's Gastro Tour de France will be a stage-by-stage culinary journey to accompany the greatest cycling race in the world, Le Tour de France.

Following the course of Le Tour, I will blog about food and drink from the places and départementsLe Tour visits. Sometimes I will be cooking along with Le Tour, while at other times we will be tasting local wines, beers and ciders, and other regional specialities. The first post, to coincide with the Prologue Time Trial on Saturday 30th June, will feature food and drink from the starting point of this year's Tour, Liège in Belgium.

So, slip into some lycra, saddle up, and join me for Le Gastro Tour de France!


Vive Le Tour!



ADVENTURES IN FLAVOUR

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This week I went to an event at Waterstones in Richmond (the manager is a good friend of mine and a regular at my dinner table) with Niki Segnit, the author of The Flavour Thesaurus, a wonderful book for true foodies and real cooks, offering a treasure-trove of flavour pairings, many well known, others less so and more unusual. (I have blogged about the book before, soon after I received it as a gift.) It follows the format of the traditional Roget's Thesaurus, and, like the thesaurus, flavours are grouped in categories, or 'flavour themes', such as "grassy", "earthy", "citrus", "marine",  and so forth.

The event at Waterstones was an opportunity to meet the author and discover how she came to research and write the book, together with the chance to explore some flavour pairings. In her preamble, Niki Segnit explained that her motivation for writing the book was the distinct lack of any cook book or cook's reference book about f…

ARANCINI (DEEP-FRIED RISOTTO BALLS)

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I make risotto, and paella, fairly regularly. Both dishes are easy and comforting. Occasionally, I find there are a couple of tablespoonsful left in the pan, which no one wants (and risotto isn't particularly appetising reheated the next day - though paella is). Until Saturday, I would chuck the leavings down the waste-disposal unit. Not so now that I have discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make arancini, or deep-fried risotto balls. I have seen these in the deli cabinet at Carluccio's and on Italian restaurant menus, and I don't know why I haven't made them before, because they are simple and tasty, and make a great canapé with a glass of chilled Prosecco.

Arancini are, I suppose, the Italian equivalent of tapas, though the ones I have seen in Carluccios look big enough for a light meal, and indeed the name comes from the Italian word for "orange". But I didn't want tennis-ball sized canapés, so I kept them small (walnut-sized), and they went dow…

GREEKISH SHEPHERD'S PIE

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A rather Nigella-ish title for a post about leftovers.....

I hate wasting food. As a child growing up in the late sixties and the austerity seventies, I was made to eat everything that was put before me. Food that was left over was invariably turned into a stew,  known at home as "gunge", usually a rather fragrant and comforting mixture of meat and vegetables in a rich tomatoey sauce, basically my mother's version of the French pot au feu. My parents were children during the war and have clear memories of food rationing and other deprivations; they also grew up in working class households where one ate up without complaint. So I suppose I inherited my mother's frugality about left over food.

On Sunday, my mother-in-law and I cooked a large leg of lamb, spiked with garlic, far too big for five of us, despite most of us having second helpings. Unlike beef, chicken or pork, cold lamb is not particularly appetising; however, it can be turned into rather delicious hot di…

CHICKEN COOKED IN CIDER WITH PEAS & POTATOES

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This dish comes from the latest addition to my cookery book collection, The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, an old-fashioned 'classic' recipe book full of interesting Spanish regional dishes, long on words, and short on pictures. I am exploring it slowly, and will blog recipes as and when I try them.

I invited friends for supper on Saturday, and, given the recent hot spell here in the UK, I wanted to cook something that was summery and light. One of my favourite summer chicken dishes is also Spanish - Pollo al ajillo, chicken pieces cooked with whole garlic cloves in a white wine sauce, but I'd made this the week before, so I thought I'd try something else.

This simple recipe uses a few key ingredients to create a delicious and colourful dish. Brought to the table in the pan in which it was cooked, it looks rustic, but if you do as I do, and serve it in the kitchen, it is elegant and pretty. Because the sauce contains both peas and potatoes, you need only add a green …