I AM not long back from Paris, where food is taken very seriously. Recent threats that health watchdogs have their eye on the humble baguette, with its salt content, should alarm us all. The bread is delicious, and ever present. It helped to underline for me the “bread of life” discourse from John in these past Sundays’ readings. And always at the table, it is a happy reminder that this basic staple is what makes the Church. To break bread is to affirm life itself.
Some dishes in France are artfully simple, and, just like fashion, can be transformed by a simple accessory or component. This Celery remoulade with crab is one such example.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 dessertspoon wholegrain mustard
Juice of half a lemon
150g (5 oz) white crab meat
1 handful chopped parsley
8 radishes, trimmed
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
Peel the celeriac and chunk it as best you can. Pass it through the shredder attachment of a food processor, or grate coarsely, or slice into matchsticks. You don’t want this to be too thin and delicate, after all.
Mix together the mayonnaise, wholegrain mustard, and lemon juice. Stir this into the celeriac with a little seasoning and leave for a good hour. Shortly before serving, fork the crab and parsley through and divide the mixture between four plates. Slice the radishes, and fan them out on top of each. Scatter the capers around each plate, then mix together the olive oil and yellow mustard, season, and drizzle around each one. Serve with crusty bread!
As autumn arrives, try Apple and pear crisps with butterscotch sauce.
6 firm apples and pears
150g (5 oz) light-brown soft sugar
90g (3 oz) unsalted butter
120ml (4 fl. oz) whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 120º/gas 2. Line 3-4 baking trays with parchment.
Use a mandolin if you have one; otherwise, a vegetable peeler or sharp knife and patience. Core the fruit and slice thinly. Lay the pieces on the trays without overlap. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake for at least 90 minutes, and turn halfway through. Let them take their time: don’t increase the heat. Once they seem crisp enough, remove from the oven and cool. (They will store in a sealed container for up to three days, but may need a crisping up in the oven again after that.)
Melt the butter and sugar together slowly in a saucepan. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes as the colour starts to change. Off the heat, whisk in the cream — taking carem as it may bubble up; and then whisk through to get it smooth. Simmer for a few minutes more and pour into Kilner or jam jars, where it will cool and thicken. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and is versatile — not just for dipping your fruit crisps in.