Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Sixty years ago, the English writer GK Chesterton wrote, `If an Englishman has understood a Frenchman, he has understood the most foreign of foreigners. The nation that is nearest is now the furthest away.' We even chose to measure the distance between differently . . . for us it's miles . . . for them kilometers . . . We tend to think of them as roly poly individuals wearing berets, with ropes of garlic hanging around their necks . . . and then tend to think of us as being rather "toffee-nosed" and tasteless . . . capable only of cooking a good roast beef.
Our relationship has always been tenuous at best . . . a real love/hate kind of thing! We noticed when on those times we have spent in France . . . you can get delicious cheeses from all over the world . . . but there are no British Cheeses, or at least we have never been able to find them. The Toddster finds that very hard to take . . . a world without cheddar is a world that is missing something very dear to his heart!
I do like French food as a whole though . . . well with the exception of brains and snails . . . oh and frog's legs, that is. (Just imagine all those poor frogs having to get around in wheelchairs! Poor things! It may taste like chicken . . . but . . . um . . . I'm not fond of chicken with freckles. 'Nuff said!!)
Anyhoooo . . . I do love most French food, and I think most Brit's do. A lot of the higher class restaurants here in the UK carry French dishes on the menu . . . seriously. Love . . . hate . . .
This is a delicious salad, which one might easily find in any French Bistro . . . but, when you look at it . . . it's not really any different than an English Salad . . . except that it uses a tasty vinaigrette instead of salad cream.
For years the English did not do salad very well . . . and indeed, it can still be very difficult to find a decent salad when out and about here in the UK. Britain . . . a salad does not have to be just a bunch of lettuce leaves, some sliced cucumber and tomato and spring onions on a plate, with a squeeze packet of salad cream on the side (If any dressing is offered at all, it often isn't. What's with that???).
A salad can be as diverse as the people who enjoy eating them. To some . . . that aforementioned combination might well be the salad of their dreams! To others . . . well, it's sadly lacking.
Early on in our marriage when I told Todd I was making us a salad for lunch, he turned up his nose and said . . . "I don't really like salad. Salad is boring." Well . . . he had never had one of mine and now he quite likes it, I am very happy to say!
I can say with all impunity . . . I have never served him a boring salad. A salad is only as good as the ingredients used, and the dressing you choose to drizzle over it. Fresh ingredients, with a delicious combination of colours, textures and tastes . . . with an incredibly scrummy dressing . . . perhaps some crisp croutons, homemade please. That's what makes a good salad GREAT! Nom! Nom!
This literally means "Composed Salad." The ingredients are layered on top of each other rather than being tossed together. I love the tangy vinaigrette.
For the salad:
1 small French Baguette
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
60ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
6 rashers of streaky bacon, rind removed
150g of salad leaves (about 4 cups)
6 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thinly
4 hard boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
For the Dressing:
60ml of sherry vinegar (1/4 cup)
80ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
3 tsp of good quality Dijon mustard
1 tsp runny honey
fine seasalt and cracked black pepper to taste
Put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a screw top lid. Give it a good shake. Set aside.
Preheat the grill to high. Cut the bread into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the garlic and oil for the salad. Brush this mixture onto both sides of the bread slices. Toast under the grill until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm. (Don't let them burn!)
Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet until crisp. Place onto paper kitchen toweling to drain. Set aside.
Layer the salad leaves in top of each of 4 chilled places. Top with the bread slices, and bacon broken into chunky bits. Top with the egg and tomatoes. Give the vinaigrette another shake and drizzle some over each salad. Pass the remainder at the table.
Ohh, by the way, speaking of salads . . . I don't know if you noticed or not but my newest Cookbooklet is out! The Great British Picnic. It's a fabulous little booklet if I don't say so myself. Twenty Eight brilliant pages containing over 36 new recipes, including several types of flavoured mayonnaises, flavoured butters, beautiful sandwiches, delicious spreads, a variety of cool soups, refreshing beverages, picky bits, cakes and general scrumminess, all perfect for celebrating the summer season in a very British Picnic Way. (We are great picnickers over here!) It's available now, for a limited time up there in the right hand sidebar of my page. I really had a lot of fun putting this together. It will only be available until my departure to Canada at the end of this month, so you will want to act quickly if it is something you want to have.