There is something quite strange about working in the summer holidays when everyone else is at home. Today, for example, I returned home from work to the sound of the hoover.
I’ll give you all a moment to mentally digest that information.
Not only that, but the dirty dishes by the sink had most definitely been dipped and wiped in a bowl of very bubbly water and then taken out and stacked on the other side.
Once again, a moment is needed, I believe.
On the end of the hoover stood the wee boy, who had been merrily hoovering the first three stairs in the hall for a good ten minutes (apparently), and proceeded to do that glorious thing of talking over the sound, to let me know how comfortable I could now be, as there wouldn’t be any more bits on the floor, whilst son #1 gave me a blow by blow account of how the washing up had been accomplished.
Of course the other thing that happens during the holidays is that time, warps, as very slowly, the usual routine is no longer adhered to and a different pattern emerges. Similarly with food, the usual pattern begins to morph into a very different experience, as holiday food ideas start to make an appearance.
As part of our honeymoon, himself and I spent some time in Paris. Every morning we would go to a cafe round the corner from the hotel, for brunch. It was nothing special in terms of decor, lay out or typical French-ness, in fact it had the feel of a greasy spoon, or how the French may interpret that phenomenon. There were a couple of slot machines, bright overhead lights, a long serving counter and a very laissez faire serving staff who were extremely polite but you just knew that disagreeing with them on anything culinary would not be worth it. Which is perhaps what gave the place it’s charm. That, and the people who went in.
There were obvious regulars who went in for something specific every day. There were those who just popped in for a coffee, and those who stayed to drink their coffee. And then there were people like us. People who were easing themselves into the day, who went, not only for the food, but to just sit and watch the world go by.
It was a glorious place and one which makes both himself and I smile from the inside out when we recall those days. And always, alongside that memory, is the delight of discovering Croque Madame.
This is the most delicious of foods, and will set you up for the day. Moreover, it is the easiest thing in the world to make, as long as you have mastered the art of the poached egg.
Firstly, toast a good doorstop sized slice of white bread on one side, turn over and add a good slice of ham and some mature cheddar cheese. Toast on a low heat. Turn your attention to the egg.
I have to admit that it has taken me a great deal of time to feel confident about poaching an egg in just a pan of water, having so often used an egg poaching pan. In fact it has taken many, many failed poachings to get this right, and I am still working on the presentation, however, I believe the key to a good poaching is to put the egg into a small bowl or ladle before placing in the pan of boiling water. It’s worth mastering this method as I promise you the egg taste so much more delicious than the preprepared egg poacher method.
So, put a pan of water on to boil and add a sprinkling of vinegar. Once the water has begun to boil add the egg and wait for the water to boil again. Turn off the heat and leave for about a minute then dive in with a slatted spoon, removing any floating egg white that may have found it’s way to the top of the water. Beneath that is the perfect poached egg.
Place the egg on top of the now bubbling cheese and serve.
It will, without a doubt, leave you wanting more.