Since The Boy went on a cookery course at Leiths, I must admit I have been learning a great deal from our collection of three Leiths bibles. Everything in there is so sensible and accurate and we haven’t made anything from any of them yet that didn’t turn out, and that’s high praise. But they lack in one thing that I find rather important…visual stimulation. I am sure the bible moniker comes from the sheer amount and detail of prose contained within, while mostly letting you use your own imagination for the pictures. And for whatever reason, it’s the pictures that make me fall in love with food.
Specifically Béa’s pictures. And Béa’s food.
La Tartine Gourmande is, in my opinion, the classiest food website in existence. My goodness, the woman can cook amazingly, take photographs of which the web is not worthy and manage to tell an amazingly wonderful food story practically everyday. What’s not to love? (Also, her web design is just perfect.) As an American ex-pat in England, her stories of being a French ex-pat in America make me giggle. Giggle in that way when you know exactly what the American is going to say and in a way it makes you cringe and yet you know it will be said anyway. It’s okay; I have been away long enough now that I find the funny questions quite endearing. But she retells the events just perfectly.
Since I can’t exactly ask her to come cook in our kitchen for a week (one, she doesn’t know me; two, she lives in Boston; three, our kitchen is so small!) I decided to just throw caution to the wind and plan an entire week’s meals from La Tartine Gourmande recipes. And so far, we have success! On Monday, we made papillotes with trout and vegetables, which was easier than I thought and tasted divine. Everything just wrapped up to bubble away…open it up and everything is perfectly cooked. (Well, as perfect as I could expect for a first attempt. My mange tout were never going to be snappy from the start…they are not in snappy season just yet. A bit limp, but tasting nice.)
On Tuesday, we had a lovely spring minestrone and something I have nicknamed aubergine castles. I do find it funny that since the Americans say eggplant but the Brits keep the French aubergine, Bea’s English/French recipe titles look all intermingled to me when she cooks aubergine. And I don’t ever find aubergine an easy one to get right. This is probably as right as I have ever managed. I’m not sure I would serve it to company without more rehearsal, but it was quite nice on our warm sunny evening this week.
And last night, we made gingered salmon with carrot sauce and tasting the sauce as I was going, I thought I’d come up with a loser for us—The Boy is not keen on savoury dishes that come up too sweet (evidence already provided!) and the carrot, orange and ginger combination on its own was quite sweet. But I should have known better. When everything was put together…rice, salmon, sauce, peanut and spring onion topping, it was just right and not too sweet after all. Quite a different taste to anything we have ever cooked before, actually. The Boy said this was not a loser at all, though the first meal of the three is still his favourite. (Alas, he was kind and did not mention that I had totally ruined the presentation of this one and therefore no camera was going near it.)
We still have a few more to go in our week of La Tartine. So more notes to come.