Saturday, 8 August 2009

BBQ Weather


Do you know what the Brits call a 32-hour dry period? BBQ weather. And let me tell you something, I haven't eaten a lot of grilled meat this summer. So when the newspapers started erupting in 'BBQ Weather' headlines towards the end of the week, I made a plan. Not for a bbq, alas we don't have a garden here, but for a little excursion out of town.
It recently struck me that we don't know much of the countryside near London despite having lived here for the last 5 years. I know, what a shame. I like to think that a lack of time and good public transportation rather than a shameful absence of curiosity lie at the root of the problem, but now that we have moved much closer to a big station, there is really no excuse.

So tomorrow, my friends, the Neapolitan and I shall go and explore the Chilterns, an "area of outstanding natural beauty" in Buckinghamshire, just 45 minutes away by train from our new address. You know how seriously I take new ventures, so I planned like a maniac. I registered to a walking Web site that offers maps, photos and directions to no fewer than 4,750 walks throughout the country, I dug up walking shoes and those light-weight rambling sticks, I enrolled a few friends and, naturally, I planned a picnic.

The traditional way of approaching an English walk would be to plan it around a pub. But it is our first proper walk outside of London and I couldn't determine from the instructions whether there would actually be an open pub on the way. Not one to risk losing my troops to starvation on their first outing I decided we shall eat al fresco. I have this vision of us, spread on a blanket in a field, drinking warm wine and munching on slices of salami in the sunshine.

Part of the vision also sees us eating sophisticated picnic food of the type always handsomely photographed in the Sunday papers. We shall thus have frittata, for once this confection of eggs and potatoes has cooled down, it's incredibly transportable, yet it retains an edge of sophistication that appeals. It's also a versatile dish in which you can incorporate any mediterranean vegetable you may have languishing in the fridge.

Pepper Frittata (for 6)
10 eggs
4 red peppers
100g grated gruyere or cheddar (keep an extra table spoon aside)
10 smallish potatoes or 5 bigger ones

Turn on the oven to its highest temperature. Place your peppers on a tray covered with aluminium foil and roast them in the oven until their skin has turned black and started blistering.

While your peppers are roasting, peel your potatoes and cut them in half. Put them in a pan of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for a further 5 minutes, or until you can insert a fork without the potato breaking up. You want the flesh to still be firm.

Take out either a small lasagna dish, a round skillet or even one of these cake moulds with a bottom that detaches to help you turn them out in one piece. Butter the chosen dish.

Take your potatoes out of the boiling water and rinse them under a cold stream. Then slice them thinly, about the thickness of a CD case. Then lay half of them at the bottom of your pan.

Take your peppers out of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 180 degrees but leave the oven on as you will need it to cook your frittata. Rinse the peppers under cold water to cool them off. Pull out of the stem delicately, making sure to take most of the seeds with it. Peel off the skin. If you have baked them long enough it should come off easily. Slice the peppers in long strips. Cover your layer of potatoes with a layer of peppers.

In a separate dish beat the eggs until they turn pale. Season well and add the grated cheese. Pour half of that mixture onto your potato/pepper layer. Then start the whole process again. Once you're done, sprinkle some some grated cheese on top and put in the oven for 25 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Ma chérie,
    C'est toujours un tel "DELICE" de te lire !
    Nous revenons de vacances : ça faisait longtemps que je ne m'étais pas connectée.
    Toscana was gorgeous!
    Mille bisous à vous deux ;o)