“The inclusion of peas also seems to stop the wind, the other sort, not the one that rattles down the chimney.”
That’s Nigel Slater, in his new book, The Christmas Chronicles, writing about his recipe for Jerusalem artichoke and pea soup. I’ve heard, of course, of the explosively flatulent effects of the Jerusalem artichoke but I had never even seen one, let alone eaten one, so I didn’t fully appreciate how significant the inclusion of peas might, or might not, be. Still, Slater’s doggedly honest writing really hit a nerve in me, not just this recipe but his writing in general, and I resolved to set forth on a search for the infamous root.
Then, would you credit it, on the very same day (last Saturday), I was picking up a bottle of organic wine in the farm shop (how fantastically middle class is that statement?) at Ballymaloe Cookery School (yes, very fancy) when I discovered they had the aforementioned artichokes for sale (well, naturally). The stars were aligned, my friends,
and my bowels were in for a shock.
No, Mr. Slater, the peas did not alleviate the situation, or if they did, God help the soul who went without them. Dear Lord, I was so full of gas my ears popped.
I suppose I ought to mention that the soup was delicious. Everyone agreed it was yummy, and then quietly removed themselves to private (well-ventilated) spaces.
I’m left with two tubers which I held back from the soup pot with the intention of planting them. They are, by all accounts, ridiculously easy to grow. I can’t decide, now, what to do with them. Has anyone any advice? Is there a secret I don’t know? Maybe I should just raffle them off on Instagram? (WIN!! Farty tubers!! Tag your friends!!…)
Let me try to redeem myself somewhat from that unseemly interlude:
That blue Le Creuset pot was a wedding present, making it twenty years old. I used to use it for making casseroles until the family out-grew it and I had to buy a bigger pot (not Le Creuset, sadly, more the industrial catering variety). The lovely blue pot, then, fell out of use for years and years which was a source of genuine regret. I would move it about from shelf to dusty shelf with a mixture of affection and irritation.
About eighteen months ago, I discovered The Common Loaf from Riot Rye and set about becoming the sort of person who has a sourdough starter living at the back of her fridge (I do!) and makes real, really good, bread. I think I’m about three-quarters of the way there. In other words, my bread turns out to be really good about 75% of the time. The two things that make the greatest difference, I think, are time (it really needs at least twenty-four hours rising, there’s just no way to cheat on that) and the blue Le Creuset pot.
The pot gets pre-heated in the oven, the dough goes in, and when I lift the lid an hour later I get this:
I’m experimenting at the moment with a recipe for walnut bread. It’s a long story but the shortest version of it is that, when I was in Paris, I bought a booklet of recipes for things to make with leftovers of Poilâne’s walnut bread. (Here is an article from The New Yorker about Poilâne, if such things interest you, and here is a video in which Julia Child visits Poilâne and bakes bread.)
Now I have managed to make myself some very good walnut bread. Yeay!It might not be from Poilâne but listen, short of moving to Paris, what are my options ?
However, the chance of there being leftovers is slim to nill. And, could there possibly be any better use for them than buttery toast?
I’m 160 pages in to The Break by Marian Keyes. I’m totally hooked…need more toast…
Hope you’re having a good week,
PS. There is NO LIGHT at all coming from the sky these days and my photos look miserable. A set of fairy lights (three euros twenty-six) is the most cost effective lighting solution I can come up with.