dimanche 27 septembre 2009

a meal to phone home about - fairy cakes and boudin normande


This morning, Sunday morning, I woke up feeling home sick. Why does this still happen 16 years after leaving Ireland? I think it's partly down to missing Sunday family lunch. When I am feeling like this, there is only one cure: food, but not any food, food that reminds me of home, of my childhood, of magic moments with brothers and sisters, although at the time I am not sure there was anything magical about pulling each other's hair out!

I decided that I would make some fairy cakes, or cup cakes as they are more fashionably known these days. I tried the recipe in Rachel Allen's book, and took some shortcuts - did she really believe anyone was actually going to beat the eggs for a full ten minutes? Maybe I should have done though because the mixture never did quite thicken up. The result? I have no idea, I was just content to lick the bowl clean afterwards and everyone knows that there is nothing quite as good as cleaning a bowl with a mixture of butter, sugar and eggs. The fairy cakes? They headed out the door in a backpack after lunch for post hike snack, leaving me to clean the kitchen.

My favourite dinner when I was a kid and still is, bacon,cabbage and floury potatoes with lots of butter and white sauce. Richard Corrigan is also a bacon fan and a fan of pig in general. I had been browsing through his book before dozing off during the week and had pig on the brain. French people have this misconception that the Irish eat a cooked breakfast every morning, I have a hard time convincing them it is just a weekend thing, do the skinny women on the metro eat croissants every morning with their cigarettes and coffee, I think not. What is true though is that there is nothing better than a bit of black pudding on a Sunday.

In Ireland my choice of black pudding was limited to Shaws or Clonakilty, in France there are as many types of black pudding as butchers. I headed off to Gilles Verot in the 15th as the owner of the wine shop told me that this was one of the best places in Paris to get 'boudin'. I decided to cook it normande style, that is served with apples cooked in butter.

For two people I cut up four medium sweet eating apples and put them in a pan with some butter and left to cook on a low heat while stiring occasionally.

While the apples were cooking I peeled some potatoes cubed and boiled them. I like my potatoes the Irish way, just lightly mashed with a bit of butter and maybe a drop of milk and some salt. The French half of the couple, likes his, of course, the French way. Puree maison, consists of as much butter and cream as pototoes and means you have to go through the effort of putting it through a "moulin", apparently real French chefs put it through the moulin twice, but I am neither French nor a chef, it went through once!

To cook the pudding I melted some butter in a pan and fried the pudding on each side for a few minutes before adding the apples. I fried the lot for about 5 minutes.

To serve I pilled some mashed potatoes or puree maison on the middle of a large plate sat a piece of pudding on top and spooned over the apple.

It was the first time I had experienced a complete wall of silence from the other side of the table, he was savouring every mouthful. While I was being nostalgic about "home" with every mouthful of mash and pudding he was reminiscing about his own childhood in Limoges. This was good. This was comfort food at its best.

After dinner I phoned home to tell my mam that the next time she cooks black pudding she should think about frying some apples, she told me what she was making for lunch. I didn't feel homesick anymore.

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