Last month, I read The Silent Hours by Cesca Major (click through to read my review). The book is set in wartime France so food was in short supply. I did find a few foodie mentions though, that I noted down as I was reading :
p34 " 'Papa hates it when I eat in the street, but I'm starving,' she explains, removing a latticed apple strudel entirely from the bag, tearing it in half and holding one out for me." Now this had me salivating, but I've already made apple strudel so I moved on to the next foodie mention.
The next food references came in a poignant letter home from the front lines, with a soldier reminiscing about his mum's home cooking that he misses. (p38) "As for me , I shall continue to daydream of Mother's rillettes de boeuf and the lemon soufflé like air that melts the moment it is in the mouth. I'm practically slobbering over this letter now. I think we've all become quite obsessed, continually talking about food and drink. It seems everyone's mother makes the best meat course in France." I've eaten rillettes de porc, kind of like a cross between pulled pork and pâté, but I'd never thought of making my own. I think they'd be quite complicated and time consuming to make. Soufflé is something that I've never dared to try because everyone always says they're hard to pull off - maybe I will try one day, but not today !
Now this was a hot contender for my #readcookeat recipe choice. (p73) "Have they been talking about me? Have I done something wrong? I rack my brains to think of something I might have done that could get me into trouble. Was it from a couple of days ago when I pinched Eléonore for taking the last of the clafoutis? She squealed and ran off at the time but, knowing her, she probably ran weeping to Maman with more stories of how I'd done her harm." Ahhh clafoutis - the perfect summer dessert. Fresh fruit, often ripe cherries, dropped into a custard tart and baked until they sink. Hmmmm. I'll definitely come back to this one.
But this is what I ultimately decided to recreate because it's the perfect no-fuss meal when it's too hot to cook anything complicated or time consuming. (p31) "We eat onion tartlets balanced on newspaper in our laps, and have grenadine with water from a flask Maman passes back.The tartlets are freshly baked and satisfactory but I prefer our normal hot meal." Perfect during this heatwave !
1 pack of ready-made puff pastry
a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil
a pinch of salt, pepper and thyme
First, grab a pack of tissues and get peeling and chopping onions ! About 4-5 big ones or 8 smallish ones should do it.
Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and add a drizzle of olive oil so it doesn't burn. Toss in the onions and reduce the heat.
Now, patience is a virtue. Leave to cook gently on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they are lovely and soft and starting to caramelise. Letting them sweat and cook slowly really draws out their sweetness.
Line a pie dish with the puff pastry. Pour in the onions. Add a generous sprinkle of thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Arrange slices of goat's cheese on top and pop in the oven at 180° for about 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked and nicely golden brown and the cheese has started to melt.
Serve warm with buttery boiled potatoes and vegetables or cold with salad. Or eat them off your lap in the back of the car to really get into the spirit of the novel !
Fancy cooking the books? Join in with the #readcookeat linkie over at Chez Maximka