Elizabeth David

Posted on April 22, 2010


I am reading, or should I say rereading, French Country Cooking By Elizabeth David it’s a wonderful book, first published in 1951. You would imagine it to be dated but not so, in fact, it feels new and I think that the reason is  that it talks to the reader like he/she is a foodie.  It assumes that we have at least some skill, it does not give exhaustive lists of ingredients exactly measured, it just tell you how to make the dish.

This in fact puts me in mind of the lovely Nigella when she is on the TV. They are very much alike those girls, they both have so much lust for food that they cannot comprehend anyone around them not being the same, this then creates an atmosphere that is infectious. The other thing I like about Liz is that, although she likes to talk about food, her recipes are short and to the point and below is a sample menu taken from the book :

To start : Moules Au Gratin

She firstly tells us to prepare 2 oz of butter pounded with a clove of garlic then add finely chopped parsley. Then open the uncooked mussels  using an oytser knife,  a dozen per person; dot a little of the butter on each mussel.  She then simply arranges them in a fire-proof dish, heats them till the butter is  melted, then  pours a cup of fresh cream mixed with about 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese  over them then just pops the dish in a hot oven or under the grill to brown.

The Main: Escalops De Veau Sophie

She beats  out very thin escalops till flat and seasons with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Then for each escalope she uses  a thin slice of ham or bacon and half a hard-boiled egg, lays the ham on the meat and the half egg on top. She rolls up each escalope and tie’s it with thread  then pan-fries  in butter for 10  minutes,  adds a glass of white wine and simmers, covered, for a few  minutes more. Once again no list of ingredients because you don’t need one.

The Side Dish: Pommes De Terre A L’ Echirlete.

You are instructed to cook whole, fairly small, potatoes in just enough water or stock to cover them, add 2 cloves of garlic  then cover the pan.  She tells us that by the time the liquid is absorbed they should be cooked. Now we transfer to a frying pan with a tablespoon of goose or pork fat,  and cook them slowly until they are browned. Turn them over a few times. and they are done – simple as.

For Dessert: Coffee Chestnuts.

She advises us that 36 chestnuts will feed four. These are to be skinned and peeled and then go into enough water to cover with 2 tbls of sugar,  simmer till soft and drain. In another pan (double boiler ) we simply combine two egg yolks, a tbls of sugar, a cup of black coffee, 2 tbls of cream, and a glass of dark rum. We are then told to simply stir over a low flame until the mixture thickens then pour the mixture over the chestnuts. Now I don’t know about you guys but that sounds like my kind of dessert, it’s got 2 of my favourite ingredients in A: booze B: simplicity.

That’s my sort of menu

What did you say “where the hell is the spag bol“!!!

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