Brand-new, I'm so retro


Oh goodness, where do I start? I'm a firm believer in those Sunday stalwarts, in traditional cooking, the cooking of my mother and my grandmothers... You could transport me to the 1950s and I'd be perfectly happy puffing away on a cigarette, in some waist-cinching dress in my loungy interior as I swirl my cocktail. It's like Mad Men redux, really, but I digress.

In recent weeks, I've been revisiting some of the dishes of my youth. The unctuous, creamy chicken and mushrooms of a bouchée à la reine (or vol-au-vent, as it is sometimes known) and some French fries made up today's lunch. It is still one of my favourite quick lunches.

Then there was the tomate crevettes, or tomatoes with shrimp.
Now I feel that it is my duty to enlighten you on the shrimp wars that are waged in this household. My SO, who hails from the US, firmly believes that a shrimp should be a large, pink object, which we call a prawn. Here, in Europe, however, we have grey shrimp, which live in the North Sea. (Never mind that after being caught, they are routinely shipped to Morocco for peeling and then shipped back to us in here in the EU. Then again, we don't believe in that, we never did and we never will (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Instead, in this household, the shrimp are bought cooked and we spend an inordinate amount of time peeling them ourselves.)
This dish involves scooping out a tomato, tossing the shrimp in some mayo, spooning it into the tomato and then sprinkling said mixture with some chives. Usually I set said dish on the table, only to watch my SO crinkle her nose and say something along the lines of 'but they're the grey shrimp... they smell so fishy'. Cue my incredulous look. Yes, you will remember that they hail from the North SEA (!).
These days, however, I take a bit of dry sherry, some oil, some white wine vinegar and beat it quickly into a dressing. Mix in the shrimp. Cut up and deseed some of our home-grown cherry tomatoes. Scoop out an avocado and spoon in the mixture and devour it. Yes, let's face it, we all need our vitamins.
And then, my grand finale, the dish which guided me through many a Sunday lunch as a child: poussin à l'estragon. Unfortunately, my first girlfriend's nickname was petit poussin. Imagine her horror when she found out what I ate one Sunday lunch and the ensuing two-day cataclysm of silence. These days, I borrow from a Nigella recipe, and toss them in the oven with a few sweet potatoes, cinnamon and cumin and a liberal sprinkling of olive oil.

So there you have it, just another old-fashioned girl ragging on about her old-fashioned taste in food...

Now tell me, do you like old-fashioned food?

PS - photography is not up to scratch, but I wasn't really paying attention as I was trying to juggle getting dinner to the table and thinking about my blog...

It's been a while...


Of course, that's not to say that I didn't eat in the past few months. Those of you who have seen me/know me in real life would confirm that this statement is true. For, dear reader, the past months have been a bounty for me.

I have spent hours, nay days in the warm sun of a Belgian summer, forsaking the lure of London (and its swine flu) for greener pastures and sandy beaches. I have eaten freshly-caught fried fish, excellent salads, delicious courgette flowers, succulent peaches and extravagant desserts. In short, I did not waste away. This was also the first year that we used our garden space to our advantage, growing figs, lemons and tomatoes and garden herbs. The tomatoes, it must be explained, were our munchkin's idea. On our forays in Florence, she ventured into a beautiful flower store near Piazza della Signoria, lured undoubtedly by the divine perfume of the gorgeous flowers in it, and then pitter-pattered over to the wall full of beautifully packaged seeds. Cherry tomatoes and courgettes, she chose, and I dismissed the packets as an illusion by its nature sweet after we returned to the homestead.

But, no, my SO and the munchkin decided to flex their green fingers and sowed them. The harvest (which is still ongoing) yielded a bumper crop of tomatoes and many a delicious pasta was concocted with them. After all, in this house, oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, basil and black olives are enough to satisfy the hungry horde.

So below, I leave you with a photo of some home-grown freshly picked tomatoes and basil and the promise of a next post on the retro girl that I am. But first, I must venture out and enjoy the Indian summer.


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