Another day (or week or something), another book to read and another couple of dishes from the Bistro Cooking book by Patricia Wells.
Only two more posts to go, though: I’m running out of books from that cubby. So today we have:
A veggie gratin! With… courgettes and aubergine and stuff. But mostly those two things.
Hm… I may have bought too much… the recipe specified small courgettes and aubergines, and I got big ones.
I’ll just use half as many.
So choppy the aubergines into rounds…
… and the zucchinis…
… and the onions…
Are you seeing a pattern here?
Oh, and then choppy the thyme. Well. Scissoring the thyme.
I think that should be a hit disco song: Scissoring the Thyme.
And then everything into the gratin dish. That’s a gratin dish, right? So first rubbing the garlic on the bottom of the dish. That’s very old-fashioned, I think? Rubbing the garlic? It’s from before they realised that you could actually eat the garlic instead of wave it around the dish…
And then all the onion on the bottom, sprinkled with olive oil and thyme…
And then just layering. Aubergine…
And then repeat for another three layers, and there’s thyme, salt and olive oil on each layer.
Those tomatoes really smell tasty, as does the thyme. I have no idea what this will all taste like in the end, though… I’m surprised that I wasn’t supposed to peel the aubergine, for instance.
And then all foiled up and into the oven for an hour. With the foil over the entire time? Hm. I’m guessing this is gonna come out really… wet?
I have to admit to being all sceptical and stuff.
So while it’s er cooking, let’s look at the book:
It’s Yann Andréa Steiner by Marguerite Duras. Oh la la; a totally French day today.
I’ve only read a handful of Duras books, but it’s been decades, I think… I’ve watched a bunch of her movies, though: They’re fabulous.
Let’s read the first three pages of this book:
Oops! It’s a Norwegian translation, so I guess I’ll just read that on my own…
Yes, looks pretty good.
The gratin is done! Hm… looks quite fresh, still, and not as wet as I was expecting.
Hm… this isn’t really meant to be served as a mains (heh heh, I can imagine the French shock at the thought), but I haven’t eaten anything all night, and I didn’t make anything else, so.
Hm… well, it is just these veggies, and it’s not very… filling?
But it has all these bright flavours. The tomato flavours dominate, but there’s also a very fresh thyme thing going on here (as opposed to a cooked thyme thing), and then the courgettes. I don’t really taste the aubergines, but there’s a very… edible nom nom thing going on.
It’s not a thing that makes you go “OH MY GOD THIS THING”, but it’s a thing that I found difficult to stop eating. The flavours are just so light and bright; it seems like you’re eating nothing at all.
So I finished off almost half? a third of this thing?
That’s like abnormal.
Very edible. I guess it is really a sum of the ingredients, but it doesn’t take anything away from them either, but instead allows them to be themselves.
So now that I’ve done the er starter, I’m doing another starter: But this time it’s fishy!
So it’s got these ingredients…
Salt cod, watered for a couple of days, and then steeped for 15 minutes…
And then into the food processor.
Blitz blitz, along with some hot olive oil and some hot cream.
It’s a brandade!
It’s very tasty… as a starter.
I totally love salt cod, and I was getting tired of eating this during the first toast, so it’s not a good er dessert.
It’s very flavour forward: The garlic is… a lot. The texture is quite pleasant, but it’s something you want to eat like 70g of and not 700g, which is what I think I ended up with.
I like it. But I think some would find it challenging: It’t really fishy, and it’s really garlicey. Perfect half-a-toast kind of thing.
Goes really well with the book, which is kinda ruminative and vague. It’s not quite clear how these characters are connected, or whether Duras is just imagining thinking about these children while shacking up with this Yann Andréa Steiner…
It’s pretty spiffy. And very brief.
This blog post is part of the Bistro
Cooking & Books series.