La Crème Pignoulet / Crème brûlée

22 Le Crême Pignoulet : Crème brûlée

The French have done it again, they have left me speechless and not for the first time. I am talking food of course, and their attitude to it! I was in France over the summer and I had one of the simplest, yet sublimely made puddings in years.

So what is it with the French and food? I put it down to the love and care they invariably lavish on the cooking of their food. Don’t get me wrong, once can find excellent restaurants across the globe. Here in Spain for example there are some of the best restaurants in the world. France also has some really excellent world-class restaurants, but it is the quality of your average village restaurant that is worthy of note.  They will often serve an exquisitely prepared meal for a relative pittance. The pudding I ate, the object of this article, was served to me as part of the restaurant’s 12€ daily three-course menu.

I had gone over the Pyrenees and was eating in one of my favourite restaurants in the town of Laruns. Both the town and the restaurant have been the object of previous articles, but I can never resist just popping over the border, filling up the car with local edible French goodies, then topping up my own tank with a good meal in the restaurant there.

The restaurant is called “L’Arrégalet” and is on a side-street not that far from the central square:

01 The restaurant

They call their pudding “La Crème Pignoulet”.

02 Their Crême

I don’t often ask the restaurants I visit for any details of the food they serve, they are after all running a business, creating and serving their dishes to make money. It does not therefore seem appropriate for me to “steal” any of their secrets, and publish them on the Internet for all to see.

To read the rest of the article and to see the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

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Cod Fishballs

18 Fishballs on a plate

The recipe this week is a local one, from a lady in the town of La Almunia de Doña Godina who was born in 1917. An old and traditional recipe therefore, just what I like! Some though might think it strange, that in this land-locked region where I live, fish plays such a big part in the traditional recipes? Spain is large, so main cities and regions are at some distance from the sea. It should be noted though that Spain is also a peninsula, and that it is bathed by both the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.

Towards the south of this region, the Mediterranean sea lies ever closer. There is in fact only a relatively thin strip of land, part of Catalonia in fact,  separating us from the sea. It is sad to think that the way things are going, although it is close, we may need a passport to get to the sea, we may need to change currencies before we can buy a beer at the beach and Barcelona Football Club will no longer be able to play Madrid unless it is an international match!

Seriously, what is it these days with this push for separatism, and I don’t mean just in Catalonia? Without travelling very far indeed we have seen or are seeing similar tendencies in the Basque Country in Spain, and Scotland and Wales in Great Britain. Statistically therefore Catalonia would appear to be far from an isolated occurrence……..

 

To read the rest of the article and view the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Tomato Ketchup

16 Ketchup in jars

Ode to a Bacon Butty by Lincoln Betteridge……

I didn’t post an article last week as I was in England, my Mother who lives there was celebrating a significant birthday milestone. It was good to go back home and meet the family again and celebrate a special day. It was also good to be back home to sample good wholesome British cooking. I knew I could count on my Mother for that, and she did not disappoint. Throughout my stay she ensured that my gullet was never under-worked! She knows what I like, and top of my list is a good bacon butty, or Dagwood as my Father used to call them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Dagwood Bumstead was a cartoon character famous for his large sandwiches. I think my Father picked up the phrase when he was in the Navy:

99 Dagwood Bumstead

The humble bacon butty, one of Britain’s most significant contributions to world cuisine. Simple to make yet difficult to get just right….. unless you are my Mother who gets them perfect every time. There are just four main ingredients, bread, butter, bacon and ketchup, so let’s take them one by one……….

To read the rest of the article and to see the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Palometa en salsa / Atlantic Pomfret in Sauce

20 Palometa en Salsa

So why Atlantic Pomfret when there are so many other better-known fish to choose from? In spite of what you might think, it was not my intent to baffle you all with a relatively unknown fish. I chose the fish in question for a couple of reasons…….

Firstly, because I had never tried it before. That alone is reason enough for me to buy it, as I am not particularly interested in playing it safe where food is concerned. Secondly, it was recommended by the Greenpeace website I often frequent, which portrays the fish that are in season and therefore environmentally better to eat. Thirdly, it had been caught by relatively traditional means in the sea. I am very much against fish farms and avoid consuming their fish whenever I can. Although we have done much to better the conditions of the land animals we eat, giving them better more natural living conditions, I am not convinced we have advanced much in the world of pisciculture.

I am not a vegetarian, I eat just about anything that falls on my plate, I do however try and eat sensibly and as ecologically as I can.  I look for animals that have been reared naturally or caught in the wild and I also try to eat local produce. I grow my own fruit and vegetables as naturally as I can. I believe it is the healthier option, it is also often the cheaper option.

The hunting season here started last weekend. The neighbour passes me his excess, so my freezer now has a couple more rabbits and a hare than it did. He started giving me his game some time ago, and he always gave it to me skinned and ready to cook. One day he forgot, the rabbits arrived whole, hide and all!

Many, many moons ago back in Lancashire I used to go hunting with local farmer friends. Recalling how they skinned their rabbits I decided to give it a go……..

 

To read the rest of the article and view the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

 

Tarta Tres Chocolates / Three Chocolates Tart

23 Tarta tres chocolates - Cut

The recipe today is a simple yet spectacular pudding. It has an absolutely perfect cake shop like finish with glossy smooth lines and a mirror-like surface…… and you won’t believe how easy it is to make. It is a chocoholic’s dream given form!

It was given to me by a young lady from here in the village. She is a bright, respectful girl, full of vitality and plans for the future, an example of what is best in the youth of today. Unfortunately I suspect that she is in the minority.

The youth of today, at least where I live, show a singular lack of respect for others and the property of others. I see them here, taking anything that’s not tied down, damaging whatever falls in their path, be it the work of man or of nature. Not only are they oblivious to reprimand, they take it with an insolent stance that borders on outright defiance.

In the village here the mayor has done much to improve the town, with some new installations and improvements to the existing ones. Returning home yesterday I saw further evidence of vandalism and the first daubs of graffiti on walls. This is a small village with perhaps a dozen children and adolescents, yet even here there is a growing disregard for the property of others….. and unfortunately it is more than just one or two of them. From where I sit and write this I can see much of the village and the majority of the youth at play……..

01 Alfalfa

Graffiti is a scourge that is difficult to eradicate, any would-be poet can cheaply buy a tin of spray-paint and scrawl his thoughts across some publicly or privately owned space. What is it that makes them think that they have the right to paint on the buildings of others? Then of course there are those that consider it art!! Most of what one sees goes little further than to profess the love, or hatred for some person or cause. If one is very lucky, at least the message will be grammatically correct and have few spelling errors……. 

02 Panaderia

Having said all the above, one of the nearer villages opened its doors, or should I say walls, to graffiti artists…… and the emphasis here is on the last word, artists. They have turned the village of Alfamén into an open air art gallery…………

To read the rest of the article and to see the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Lincoln’s Lancashire Hotpot

28 Lincoln's Lancashire hotpot

I have called this week’s recipe “Lincoln’s Lancashire Hotpot” because two Lincolns are involved in the story of this recipe…… but before I talk about the Lincolns, let me talk about a Trevor…….

This recipe was actually requested by Trevor, a friend from my dim and distant youth. A friend with whom I have had little contact until relatively recently when, thanks to the wonders of Facebook, we have managed to share the odd conversation. He lived about half a mile from me, at the bottom of the hill, and we used to “knock around” quite a bit in our early teens. I also enjoyed being in his mother’s kitchen, enveloped in all those wonderful aromas whilst watching her bake.

As a couple of tykes we got into all sorts of scrapes! I recall on one occasion I went on a camping trip with him and his parents. I remember being surrounded by families and caravans as we discussed the inner workings of a toy rocket, that was absorbing all our attention, with a single-mindedness that only the young can display.

99 Winewall

I lived at the top of the hill (Archive Photograph)

I remember the toy consisted of the rocket, a base structure and a pumping mechanism. We had to pump air into the rocket and then let it go, the compressed air giving it the power to fly high into the sky. The instruction booklet made it quite clear just what the maximum amount of pumping was.

I mean come on games manufacturers, how can you think that a couple of young rascals aren’t going to give it an extra pump or two, or ten? Using true scientific method, we started to steadily increase the pressure to see just how high we could make it fly……….

 

To read the rest of the article and to see the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Traditional Rice Pudding

07 Traditional Rice Pudding

Whilst cooking the Coney in Confit for last week’s article I decided to cook a rice pudding too. I cooked the coney on the traditional wood fired stove, which is an “all or nothing” cooker. I can’t just heat one of the rings on the hob, or not heat the oven. I could probably have a dozen pans going at once and several things baking away in the oven.

08 Wood fired stove

When using this stove I almost always decide to cook a couple of extra meals, perhaps something for the following day, perhaps something that is easy to freeze for a later date, or perhaps a pudding, in this case a rice pudding. I particularly like the recipe I have for you today, because it is so easy. It is almost a pop in the oven and forget sort of recipe! There are perhaps few basic ingredients like rice, for example you can:……………….

 

…………..I would recommend that my Spanish readers give my rice a try in spite of it being cooked in a non-Spanish way. I know that many Spaniards believe that British food is way below par, but did you Spaniards know that more than one British person believes that Spain’s internationally acclaimed cuisine is lousy? I suspect that the real problem is that for some Brits, Spanish food is too different, something they are not used to eating.

More than one British diner has turned their nose up at snails, whole baby squid, pig’s snout, sheep’s brains or edible thistles to name but a few.…………………

 

To read the full article and the recipe please click here.

 


2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge