Brexit Pepper & Onion Chutney

peppers-2786684_1920The date 31 January 2020 is bound to become infamous. On this day the UK is leaving the European Union.

The Bank of England has now further downgraded the prospects for the UK economy to be at the lowest level since the Second World War!

As part of the fallout, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ability to pump more money into the “left behind” regions of the UK is now threatened. These were the former solid-Labour seats that trashed Jeremy Corbyn’s already shredded reputation and for some strange reason gave Mr Johnson a majority in last month’s General Election.

It is such an exhibition of madness that I felt moved to mark the occasion by making something to preserve this nonsense in the memory for a long time to come.

The preserve I have adapted is one Delia Smith picked up from her friend Di Knab, a former fashion model and stylist who moved with her husband Peter and set up a cookery school in the mid-1980s in a house called Le Baou d’Infer in Provence.

As Delia says it is “a jewel of a recipe” and the result is terrific served with good bangers, kebabs, left-over pie or pate and cheese.

All I have done is add a sliced red onion but the whole thing is a powerful reminder of the simple pleasures Mr Johnson persuaded enough ignorant people to turn their backs on by voting for Brexit.

Ingredients

2 large peppers (red, yellow or green or a mixture)

1 medium red onion

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 fl oz (25 ml) vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Start by trimming the peppers and cutting them into a ¼ inch (5mm) julienne of about two inches (5cm) long.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil with the vinegar and two fluid ounces (55 ml) of water in a saucepan and then stir in the honey.

Bring this liquid to a simmer and add the peppers and onion, stirring them so they are coated.

The next step is to cover the pan so the peppers and onion soften over low heat. They will be tender after about 20 minutes.

After this take the lid off and raise the heat to evaporate most of the liquid. When the mixture is removed from the heat, season with the salt and pepper, allow to cool, and then put it in some clean jars.

Every time you add a spoonful of this joy to your food, just remember how good life used to be before the nonsense that is Brexit.

Image by Kai Pilger from Pixabay

The Autumn is upon us, time for something cheesy, rich and satisfying

Tartiflette

September, the ninth month of the Gregorian calendar, but the seventh in the Roman calendar from which it takes its name, is when the weather starts to cool.

Today, Meteorological Autumn is upon us. Astronomical Autumn has yet to come. But it is the month of blackberries, potatoes, courgettes, aubergines, onions, and tomatoes.

As the abundance of summer’s flowers and forage die off, milk tends to become grassier so real cheeses (rather than the mass produced versions) change in flavour. As the cold weather encroaches butterfat and proteins start to jump.

The beginning of Meteorological Autumn on September 1 also marks International Bacon Day. The celebration began in 2000 when a group of students in Massachusetts deemed the flavour so delicious that bacon deserved its own holiday. They were probably right.

The average temperature is now around 16°C and as the month progresses, temperatures will decrease even further. It’s time to start thinking about cooking some warming food, and what could be better than an unctuous bowl of Tartiflette. If you have a stomach for potatoes, bacon, and cheese then there is nothing like this dish that originated in the 18th-century but recently got a shot in its arm.

Nowadays the dish is traditionally made with Reblochon cheese because the marketers at Union Interprofessional Reblochon decided it would be a glorious way of boosting sales of this rich cow’s cheese.

I have decided, therefore, that it is no sacrilege to combine the other traditional ingredients with much easier to locate creamy tangy Brie. Mixed with the smoked bacon lardons and potatoes it makes for an unusual but no less appealing twist.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 300g smoked lardons
  • 1 thinly sliced large onion
  • 5g fresh thyme leaves
  • 284ml Double Cream
  • 300ml milk
  • 3.5cl white wine
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1kg thinly sliced potatoes, such as Albert Bartlett Roosters
  • 250g thinly sliced Brie

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to around 180°C and lightly grease an ovenproof dish of about 1.5-litre. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and lardons on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until they start browning.
  2. Prepare the thyme leaves, keeping a few back for garnish. Place the herb, cream, and milk in a large saucepan. When this starts to simmer, add the potatoes, and cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Prepare the lardons by sautéing with a knob of butter, add the sliced onions and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Then add the white wine and crushed garlic clove and cook for 3 minutes. Then add this sauté to the potatoes and season with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Place half the potato infusion in the base of the prepared dish, and top with half the sliced cheese. Repeat, ensuring you finish with a layer of cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, and the top is golden and bubbling. Garnish with thyme and serve with a crisp green salad and chunks of Sour Dough bread.

Cook’s tips

You can assemble all of this so it’s ready for the final cooking several hours ahead of even the day before. When it’s cool, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until needed. Because you are cooking straight from the fridge, when you have removed the clingfilm cook for an hour (ie an extra 15 minutes).