Late Supper

late supper

The thing about having to get somewhere at a certain time, after spending so many days in your pyjamas and reverting to your own, inner timepiece, is that it can, without warning, leave you feeling exhausted.

And so it was with the wee boy on his first day back.  Although we never get anywhere for the crack of dawn, the whole idea of having to be somewhere was unnerving for the wee one, although he did, eventually, get into the spirit of it all having remembered that a couple of his pals have birthdays this month, so there will still be large amounts of celebrating happening at some point in the very near future.

After picking him up from his first day back, and completing a few errands, we made our way back home.  A home which has acquired a new quirk.  We now have, to compliment the other temperamental gadgets, a heating system which refuses to acknowledge that you need sustained pressure in it in order to heat the house and water system.

Having warmed up so that we no longer looked as though we were smoking indoors when breathing out, the wee boy watched a couple of his favourite short films of the moment and I busied myself with household chores.

But why are you relating the mundane to us?  I hear you ask.

Patience my friends.

A little later on the wee boy popped upstairs to play in his bedroom and, whilst passing, I popped my head around the door to let him know that dinner would soon be ready, only to find him curled up on his bed, fast asleep.

It was 6pm.

Now I realise that some of you may not think that too early for a boy of 5, but he has been reverting to his natural timepiece which is in no way compatible with modern day living.  However, I hoped that he may sleep through until morning.

This was not to be.

Instead, as I was going to bed, he was waking up.  So after quite a bit of too-ing and fro-ing, we ended up sharing a very late supper of cherry jam sandwiches, and milk in the wee hours of the morning (photo taken by the wee boy).

Still not sure why I’m telling you this?  Well, because it’s moments like these that I relish.  There is no unusual ingredient and yet there is nothing like eating at a time when you’re normally asleep, in a place which is usually meant for something else.  A night-time adventure.  Nothing fancy you understand, just something a little out of the ordinary.  And in reality these moments are so few and far between, that when they happen it’s an opportunity to create little snippets of magic.

After all, I doubt there will be much chance of us munching away on cherry jam sandwiches together when he learns to make them on his own, although I am hoping for a few more late suppers before then…

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Potatoes Dauphinoise

Dauphinoise

We haven’t really sat down to eat a big meal since Christmas Day, so I felt it was only fitting that at the start of the year I should make an effort but keep it in the comfort zone, as our winter hibernation is truly setting in.

Also, I am loathed to pop out and buy food when there is still a plethora of things still sitting in our fridge that need using up. Albeit most of them are pickled affairs.

Anyway, all of this led me to plump for something I love, but rarely do, as we don’t often have cream in the fridge.

I have occasionally tried to keep cream in the fridge as almost all the cookery programmes i have ever watched, always seem to refer to it as an essential. However, I found that as we don’t use cream on a daily basis, once the correct amount has been apportioned to whichever recipe required it, any left over cream just lingers forlornly, slowly frosting away with no particular place to go.

I am trying to rectify this situation, hence potatoes Dauphinoise.

Officially, this is a gratin recipe as the potatoes, although sliced, are completely cooked in the oven.  But I don’t think anyone’s too concerned about semantics in this particular instance.

Anyway, put your cream in a pan and add a clove of garlic per 100ml of liquid. Grind in some salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer, and add the potatoes which have been thinly sliced, simmering for approximately 3 minutes.

The basic rule of thumb here is that you need double the amount of potatoes to cream.  And just to let you know, it doesn’t need to be all cream.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can use up all the cream you have and just top up with milk.  Or, if you prefer, go half and half.  It’s totally up to you.

Then, strain the potato slices into an oven proof dish, fish out the garlic cloves from the warmed cream before pouring over the top.

Cook in the middle of the oven, gas mark 5, for about an hour.  Longer if you prefer your spuds with a little more of a mush.

And it is at this juncture that I feel the need to point out the beauty of potatoes Dauphinoise.  It is a wonderfully diverse dish that you can tweak to your heart’s content.  You can add rosemary, thyme, or any other herb you love, to the cream mixture. You can grate cheese on the top (Gruyere is the cheese most oft mentioned but anything light and nutty will taste great), you can even, if you’re really thinking of living on the edge, add eggs to the creamy affair.

I will just add a word of garlic caution here.  I find infusing the cream with garlic is enough to compliment the other flavours in the dish.  Those of you who cannot get enough of the garlic flavour, may wish to grate, crush or chop your garlic into the cream and leave it there.  If so, I suggest one clove per 250ml of liquid will suffice.

Whichever way you decide to cook your potatoes, they always taste divine, and although traditionally they were cooked to compliment fish, I like to throw caution to the wind and cook them to compliment whatever I fancy, or even, sometimes, just eat them on their own.

One of the most delicious classic comfort foods around.  Enjoy.

Eggy Bread

photo (55)

The wonderful thing about having a little time at home with the boys is being able to kick back and relax about everything.  We don’t eat breakfast until at least two cups of tea into the morning, we don’t get dressed until we’re ready, we don’t clean our teeth until we get dressed and most importantly, we don’t rush anything.

Consequently, we have conversations about many random things, which I absolutely love.  Mainly because it reminds me that children are not on the same thinking plain as adults.  We concern ourselves with the practicalities of the when, the where and the with what.  We contemplate the structure of the day to ensure that people are fed and watered at regular intervals and philosophically engage our minds over the morality of issues du jour.  In other words, we engage with the world around us in a very considered and almost routine way.  It’s a habit.

Whereas children don’t, or at least shouldn’t, have that kind of mental responsibility of rigour, and consequently their minds are free to wander from subject to subject, almost at random, picking and choosing what will entertain them today.  Right now. With not a care in the world for the practicalities.  And rightly so.

As a result of this breadth of space, today we discussed whether it would be better to go to the Pink Banana as Luke Skywalker and a Storm Trouper or not.  I don’t mind either way.

Meanwhile, back on the culinary track, I decided to indulge in one of our favourite breakfast meals.  Eggy Bread.  Now some people call this French Toast, or Gypsy Toast.  I believe this is because the French discovered it was a good way to use up stale, or not so fresh bread, but thought I’d better check, and found this:

French toast was not invented in France*.  Pause for reflection.

Apparently, it was first mentioned in 4th Century Rome by a bloke called Apicius. Roman version of Michel Roux most likely.

Anyway, having looked into it further, the reasoning and recipe are still the same. The recipe.  Mix eggs and milk together into a bowl, add salt and pepper and then put in slices of bread which have been cut up into quarters.  Leave to soak.  I usually do one egg per slice of bread, and although today we used wholemeal bread, white sliced holds it’s shape better.  Both are delicious.

Once the bread is almost falling apart, fry a knob of butter in a pan and add the quarters.  Fry until browned on both sides.  You will find they puff up a little, which I take great satisfaction in.

Now then, we always have them with Tommy K or HP sauce, but they are just as lovely with honey drizzled over them, or fried in cinnamon and sugar. Either way, sweet or sour, they are a wonderful start to, what I hope will be, a very chilled out day.

*www.todayifoundout.com