Friday, 17 July 2009

Lunches in the Sun




Finally we have had a week of no rain. Summer is here at last. For the last few weeks it has rained a lot either in the morning or the afternoon. But thankfully this week we have been blessed with days of beautiful clear blue skies. This has been an excuse to eat alfresco. Bliss. Being in London over the Winter, I had forgotten what it was like to eat with the sun on your back. Ahhhh..
However this week of sun, has meant frequent trips to the garden to do some well needed watering of the veg I planted a few weeks ago. Hard life huh? The rocket, caverlo nero, parsley and radishes have all sprouted. Now just a waiting game till they are ready.
I ordered last week a wide selection of seeds from Seeds of Italy (The USA Branch). So hopefully they will be with me in a week or two. Then I can get planting…. How I miss salads. For some reason Latin America is not known for its good salad leaves.
I also started to cure a piece of pork belly last week. Just a simple recipe of salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns and a few herbs thrown in. I left it for 7 days, bit of a mistake as it was quite salty in the end. But apart from that it turned out ok. The next one I will leave it for 5 days and hopefully it should be ok.
The day I started curing it, I was dreaming of eating Petit SalĂȘ. My favourite peasant style French dish. Basically salted pork with lentils.
Firstly boil the piece of bacon with lots of stock veg and herbs for about an hour and a half or until the pork and fat are tender. Stain everything and return some of the stock back to the pan and add the lentils. Normally I would use Lentils from Le Puy, but this is Colombia and they only sell two types here. Brown lentils for soup and an imported type from Canada called Pardina. They seem to hold their shape better and work ok here. The lentils should be cooked in about 20 minutes. During this time slice the pork and add it back to the lentils to warm through. Serve the pork on top of the lentils for some fine French fare. A nice baguette would go well with this, but as we are in the middle of nowhere, so some Moroccan bread we tried out went just as well. A nice crisp white would have been great as well. Hey ho.
I used some more of the cured bacon in another classic French dish. Boeuf Bourguignon, which went well with some mashed potatoes and a hearty red.
I must however remember to slap the boy in the butchers who told me the cut “Posta” was brilliant for slow cooking. After 3 hours it was just beginning to become tender. Unfortunately we were pretty hungry by this time so we couldn’t wait till it was melt in the mouth tender.
I keep forgetting that slow cooking in Colombia means 45 minutes in a pressure cooker. They really love these machines. The devils work I say.
Hopefully if the sun holds out over the weekend I can feel the barbecue being lit. Then you know Summer is definitely here. J

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