A favourite here in Misse, Porchetta is a rich dish and a little goes a long way.
Porchetta is a classic Italian pork roast. It has been recognised with a 'prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale' (traditional agricultural-alimentary product).
The original is made with a whole small pig, which has been gutted, de-boned, stuffed with herbs, garlic and wild fennel then spit roasted. It is commonly seen in this form in Butcher's shops and is bought by the slice. It can be eaten warm or cold.
There is an abundance of wild blackberries around us. Last week we picked at least 10k\22lb of them. Some went into a Southern cobbler (recipe to come), but the rest were destined for jam\jelly.
My issue with blackberries: the seeds; I can't bear them. So seeds out, but I needed to know if they improve the flavour, so we ran an experiment.
We blended the blackberries raw, then de-seeded them using a kitchenaid with the fruit/vegetable strainer attachement. We then made two batches of jam\jelly, one with a muslin\cheesecloth bag of seeds and skin, the other without. To my great surprise our group thought that the jam made without seeds had the fuller earthier flavour.
I should also mention that the jams\jellies that we have been making are what I refer to as 'adult' jams and jellies. The 1-to-1 proportion of sugar to fruit makes sense for commercial producers, but using less increases the concentration of fruit and the flavour.
A dish rich in flavours but easy to prepare, I have been making this version for several years.
I like to use Turkey or chicken escalopes as they have a subtle flavour and absorb the other flavours used, but pork or veal will also work.
We were reading through Elizabeth David's 'Summer Cooking' yesterday, it was first published in 1955. It was surprising to discover that she had already started discussing the advantages of free-range poultry back then.
We have a large crop of aubergines\eggplants in the garden. Both the traditional purple and the creamy white variety. It is this latter variety which gave us the name 'eggplant' as the berries, technically they are berries, resemble eggs.
This was an experiment from last week, that turned out very well. A friend brought me a large bowl of Quetsch plums. It's a variety commonly grown in Alsace and is most often used to make tarts, plum brandy and Slivovitz. We already had 'Liqueur de fruits' scheduled for our course this week, so wanted to try something else.
We have been preparing oven-dried tomatoes so it struck me that this might also work with plums. I discovered that Martha Stewart had given this a whirl some years ago, but I wanted purer flavours.
The resultant dried plums can be used for sweet or savoury dishes. I have posted a recipe combining some of them with aubergines\eggplants.
We have been growing artichokes in the garden, but I mistakenly planted a globe variety. I have decided to let these bloom (see photo below) and will then replace them with 'violet de provence' artichokes for next year.
Catherine de Medici is credited with introducing Artichokes to the French Court in the first half of the 16th Century. By the end of the century artichokes were cultivated throughout France, Spain and Italy. Britian never succumbed to the artichoke's charms and to this day, they are a rarer sight.
This recipe uses the 'violet' variety of artichoke. This variety is normally about 5cm\2 inches in diameter and more elongated than the globe varieties.
I have given a lot of visual tips on handling artichokes to help those less familiar with them.
It was a busy Sunday morning here, with a lot of dashing around, so we were grateful that Caitlyn thought to prepare us a 'Southern' brunch.
We have had a bumper crop of green zebra tomatoes this year. Caitlyn selected the larger and firmer ones from the vine as they need to hold together.
As a Brit, of a certain age, the phrase 'Fried Green Tomatoes' is indelibly linked to 'at the Whistlestop Cafe', the UK title of the 1991 film, starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, based on Fannie Flagg's bestselling novel.
A hot summer's day calls for a cocktail with a bit of a breeze flowing through it. Something that refreshes, but also gently reminds you it's not just fruit juice in that fancy glass. Nothing fits that bill better than a champagne or sparkling wine-based cocktail. And we especially like mixing them here at Circle of Misse since there are so many excellent bubblies available from our local Loire Valley producers. This drink, the French 75, with its cool gin overtones, summery citrus notes, and celebratory bubbles, beautifully Frenchifies that most sun-friendly of drinks, the Gin and Tonic.
It reportedly originates from Henry's Bar in Paris, where it was created sometime in the 1920s to celebrate the famous French 75 rifle used in World War I. The idea being, according to the Savoy Cocktail Book, that the drink "hits with remarkable precision." As with most famous cocktails, origin stories abound, including one that a World War I flying ace created it and another that it's a British drink brought to France by Americans. A bored bartender at Henry's in Paris rings most true.
Our first 'Fruits of the Garden' course has begun and this recipe was the first of the jams that we created.
A hint of wine can impart a sophisticated and adult flavour to jam. I discovered a fairly ancient bottle of Cabernet d'Anjou recently. It was past its best for drinking, but made an excellent concentrate for the jam.
We used small golden plums picked from the Circle of Misse garden. They have a sweet and intense flavour, but one must not forget that once heated the skin will raise the tartness of the fruit.