Saturday, 19 October 2013

Bill of Fare - Sunshine at Suppertime

I think Fanny has chosen some light dishes for her end of partwork menus to try and counterbalance the flurry of flans. As before, they really bear no connection at all to what I've been learning or creating, but instead are just some ideas to have ready for guests round for dinner. I have to resist my temptation to roll out some savoury paste and make the starter for 'Bill of Fare One' into a tart though - it's Cold Ratatouille which only sounds slightly more tempting in French - Ratatouille Glacé.

I have to confess that Ratatouille isn't one of my favourites, perhaps it's the disappointment as a vegetarian of often finding it as the only option on a menu, and even then without much flavour or texture. The ingredients however are fresh and are some of my favourites - Aubergines (Fanny calls them Eggplants), courgettes (Fanny calls them baby marrows), peppers (Fanny calls them pimentoes), onion and tomatoes (Fanny doesn't have any alternative names for these). The technique is fairly simple, heat some oil, fry the chopped onion and peppers for a while, add the courgettes and Aubergines, cook for a while longer then add the chopped tomatoes.

Fanny urges me to cook them gently together until all the vegetables are soft and have made their own sauce from the juices and the oil, before seasoning. Lastly Fanny asks me to add 'une persillade' which is a garlic clove crushed together with some milled (which I hope just means chopped) parsley. My French gartronomy terms are coming along nicely!

Fanny suggests this is served cold as a hors d'oeuvre or hot as an accompaniment to a main meal. It looks different to any usual ratatouille - much more vibrant and less 'tomatoey' - adding the parsley  and garlic at the end of the cooking gives it a real flavour punch too. I am impressed, even cold! 

Skipping over Fanny's suggested main of Normandy Rabbit with Cider, it's straight to work on pudding - an Orange Meringue Pie. Oh, a pie. I thought the flans were finished...this version however has no pastry base thankfully and Fanny suggests is a very old and simple recipe which is a firm favourite in the nursery. Not quite sure which nursery she means though.

The technique is simply heating together some orange juice with fresh lemon juice and rind, mixing in some cornflour and water in a paste, adding butter and egg yolks - a kind of orange curd I suppose. Once thick and gloopy it goes into the serving dish to cool.

Fanny explains that the beauty of this simple old-fashioned pudding lies in the base being sharp and the meringue topping being sweet. The meringues are made in Fannys usual way and piped (of course) in a decorative manner on top of the orange curd. I copy Fanny's picture for inspiration, she would be so pleased with me! 

Then, into a low oven to dry out the meringues until they look like the colour of cooked biscuits apparently. Fanny is of course right, the base is lovely and sharp and the top crunchy and sweet - a lovely end to this particular menu, and a welcome light end to the flans!


  1. That orange meringue pie looks superb. The ratatouille sounds pretty good too.

    1. Thanks, tasted great too... It was lighter without a pastry base and would work well (almost said better!) in individual dishes!

  2. Ooooh now I have never thought on making Ratatouille with my left over aubergine, courgette and peppers from my fajitas. Think I will give that a try but think I will have mine hot as don't think I fancy it cold. :)

    1. Let me know how you get on! It was actually really tasty cold, I was surprised!