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Food for thought - and thoughts for foods


September, 2015
There are times when hunger is immediate and something quick but nutritious and tasty is called for;  Into a large pan of boiling, salted water put a quantity of Spaghetti or Talliatelli (3 oz per person). This will take 10 minutes to cook. In the meantime, gently melt 1 oz of butter per person in a small pan, then turn of the heat. Freshly grate a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. When the pasta is cooked 'al dente' serve in individual bowls, with melted butter poured over, top with some grated cheese, some grated black pepper and some freshly chopped herbs -parsley, basil, corriander, fennel  etc.  A glass of Chianti or Valpolicella works well with this. You never see this dish on any Italian restaurants in the UK but the Italian family from Tuscany I stayed with many years ago in Perth, Western Australia had it every night of the week as a first course. It's delicious, simple and quick and very economical.

When Janet Davies opened the Langwathby  Station Café a few weeks ago, I went to try it and took with me a small continental cheese cake which I had baked that morning .......
Janet liked it and said if I gave her the recipe she would put it on her menu, so look out for Pierre's continental cheese cake. (Visit Janet's Facebook page: Langwathby Station Café)

Spicy wines match spicy foods.  Here is a spicy item that is one of my favourites and which goes very well indeed with a traditional Sunday roast dinner.  It's  Aniseed Carrots!

When I first saw this recipe back in the 1970's I knew it was a winner! 

Scrub three or four carrots and top and tail them, then slice the long-ways into match sticks about 2-3 inches long.

Place the carrots in a small pan, and cover with cold water, add salt and pepper, a generous knob of butter, and add one and a half teaspoons of aniseeds, and one dessert spoonful of brown sugar. Boil without a lid until the water disappears and the carrots begin to caramelise in the sugary melted butter.  Serve with roast chicken, pork, beef, lamb, game or duck.   

With chicken, pork, or duck, an Alsace Gewurztraminer from Rolly-Gassman, Zind Humbrecht, Slumberger, Trimbach, Hugel or Beyer would be very suitable.  With red meats and game, a spicy red from the Rhone-valley, (a Lirac or Gigondas) would be a good match. Try it. You'll never regret it!

Thinking of food, and in particular, matching wine and food, the rule is... there are no rules! The enjoyment of food and wine is subjective, so if you enjoy a particular sort of wine with certain foods, that's great! There are a few guiding principles though - one is to avoid the combination of cheese and Champagne - for most people this match simply doesn't work. Another tip: avoid table wines with soup: the effect is that the soup dilutes the wine and the wine dilutes the soup.  A fortified wine like Sherry or White Port however, can work very well. It has the necessary punch!

One of my favourite dishes is fish pie, usually made with a selection of white, and smoked fish, and either fresh or smoked salmon, sometimes a few sauteed mushrooms, hard boiled eggs or anchovies, too. After poaching the fish lightly, I put everything in an oven-proof dish and smother with a cheese sauce; top with mashed or creamy potatoes, and a sprinkling of bread crumbs mixed with grated Parmesan cheese. (For completness - I bake it for 40 minutes at 180 degrees C.)
Until recently, I would have chosen a white wine to accompany it; a Macon-Villages for example, or a Chablis, a Riesling, or even a Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi, from Marche, in north-eastern Italy. 

But, after my last trip to Portugal, I discovered that when serving salt-cod, the locals serve red wine with it.  So, I've tried it with my fish pie - and it works. Well, it works for me! Try it, it might work for you, too!  

Try a light to medium bodied red with a touch of zingy acidity - a Beaujolais or Beaujolais Villages, or fresh, lively Chilean Pinot Noir - or a Portuguese red from Lisbon or Tejo - just a suggestion.  There are no rules, remember!
Here's seasonal recipe for you, it's very quick and easy and tastes absolutely delicious. I've had a glut of raspberries this year - I've frozen plenty but they keep on coming! So yesterday, I made these for tea. Try them, they were so enjoyable!
Welsh Raspberry Drop-Scones.

Preparation Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 10 minutes

125 g. s/r flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder,
or 1/4 tsp Bi-carb. of soda
and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar,
1 egg, beaten,
300 ml pint of sour milk,
or 1/2 pint of milk and a few drops of lemon juice,
100g - 175g raspberries,
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Sift the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre, pour in half the milk, add the egg, whisk well, adding more milk until the batter resembles thick cream.  Add the fruit and stir.

Heat a greased griddle, or heavy bottomed frying pan and drop 3 or 4 separate tablespoons and space them out so they have room to spread without joining together; aim for three or four raspberries in each. 

Cook for two minutes or until bubbles appear then turn over and cook the other side lightly, taking care not to burn the fruit. 

Lift the scones on to a plate with a spatula or fish slice, dredge with caster sugar and serve hot or cold.

What wine would I suggest to accompany it?  In this case, I would skip the wine and make a nice pot of Earl Grey Tea.

A guest on Desert Island Discs  (BBC Radio 4. 3.8.2012.))  was Mary Berry, and I particularly enjoyed the program as I like to make her Marmalade Cake, and other recipes.  Click on the link to see details of one of her baking books I recommend.

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