Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yesterday, I was telling you that weekend newspapers were one of the things we missed about England. This afternoon, I was over at our neighbours’ gite, assisting them welcome in their first English guests (Paul and Christiane speak no English apart from Paul’s single, and rarely useful, phrase that he’s picked up, “I am goieeng to cleen ze ’ouse”). I'd spoken to Stephanie last night, to explain that I’d be there on their arrival, and cheekily asked if she’d mind bringing the Sunday Observer with her, which she did.

And what a treat it is. The supplement is the monthly food magazine. Coupled with that, I’ve just finished a superb dinner cooked by Gabrielle. Roasted coriander seeds, rosemary leaves, garlic, lemon juice salt and pepper all got mashed up in a messtle and portar, then stabbed in and smeared all over a leg of our own mutton and roasted in the oven. As were the potatoes. Vegetable-wise, she blanched our own fresh peas and served up a gaudily colourful boiled beetroot in white sauce. Stunningly rich and delicious. Awaiting us in the fridge is a home made strawberry yogurt. This combination of good food, good wine, good company, good reading and a warm sunny summer evening has made me come over all Nigel Slater-ish: I feel a recipe coming on.

This is a bargain bite, cheap chow, parsimonious provender. Inspired by the French recipes, "Petit salé aux petits pois and Saucisses aux lentilles, I give you ...

Sausage on a split pea purée with fried bread.
First off, you’ll need some bangers with a bit of character about them. We use our best barbeque sausages, made with our own free range and organic pork with breadcrumb, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, white and black pepper, paprika, salt and a pinch of sugar to caramelise splits in the frying pan. Be patient when you fry them, even more so if you barbeque them, as they need to be cooked right through without being cremated on the outside.

For the purée, this is straight from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Meat Book but no quantities here, you decide how much you want and how strong you want the flavours. Soak some dried split peas overnight, then drain, rinse and add fresh water then onion, carrot, celery (dried celery powder or leaf celery apium graveolens secalinum will do just as well) leek (lacking a leek, I chopped up a shallot) thyme, a bay leaf and butter. Simmer until tender then whiz out the bay leaf and thyme stalks then mush the mix with a kitchen mushing device (a mouli légumes if you’re exotically posh, else use a food processor, a soup blender or scrape it though a steel sieve with the back of a wooden spoon). Add salt to taste and give the peas back some of their original sweetness with some sugar (or honey).

For the fried bread, what do you need to know? Ageing bread, olive oil and unsalted butter, keep frying and turning until it’s golden and crispy. Dob the pea mush on the plate, pose the porky sizzlers on top and go all arty around the sides with the fried bread. Drink it with a robust red wine, which—I choose to believe—is good for your heart, counteracting all that tasty but naughty grease … yum!