French onion soup is comfort food at its best. For me it brings back memories of cold wintry Sunday afternoons. Finely slice 15 medium brown onions. Put a knob of butter and drizzle of olive oil into a soup pan. Gently cook the onions until they have started to really go a caramel brown. When they have reduced, add two teaspoons of sugar and cook. This whole process takes a good solid thirty minutes. When the sugar and onions have really started to caramelise, add 1.5 litres of really good quality vegetable or beef stock and 300 mls of dry sherry. Cover and simmer for another thirty minutes or so. This can be eaten straight away, but it is best to let it rest for several hours while the sweet oniony flavour develops.
It is pretty much essential to top a steaming bowl of soup with cheese croutons. I toasted a slice of fresh white french boule bread topped that with grated cheese and let this bubble under the grill.
We then had omelette with fine herbs….. chives and thyme.
This was followed by vanilla, raspberry and chocolate macaroons, and for H-G his homemade crab-apple vodka.
I am a proud Australian, and very proudly live in England with my English husband and English son. I love England and utterly, completely, madly, adore living on the Isle of Wight.
Naturally I have developed a deep love for English food, literature, culture. I particularly love a quintessentially English picnic, and a traditional afternoon tea. I am not a fan of cucumber but I go weak at the knees at cucumber sandwiches. The bread has to be crustless and white, and the cucumbers peeled and sliced very very thin. Add lots of salt and a thin smear of butter and you have the food of the Gods.
One of the first ‘English’ dishes I made for my husband was when we were living abroad. He mentioned that his favourite ever supper dish was fish pie – just like how his mum used to make. I had never heard of fish pie,- I immediately thought that it would be like the curried scallop pies I adored in Australia – creamy spicy scallops encased in pastry. No, it was creamy fish topped with mashed potato. I downloaded the recipe from Delia Smith’s website and made fish pie, which naturally we served with peas.
There are many recipes out there – some include capers or cornichons. Some use smoked fish. I very occasionally use one fillet of smoked haddock, but today I did not. My recipe was simple. I place 2 salmon fillets and 3 cod fillets into milk on the hob which I then heat until just about to boil. I then remove the fish and use the milk to make a white sauce. I then place the fish into a shallow oven dish, add the white sauce, a good double handful of cooked King Prawns and three boiled eggs which are sliced. This is then topped with mashed potato and cooked in the oven until hot and bubbling.
We served this with peas and fresh broad beans.
We rarely-to-never eat puddings but for a classic English summer supper, it had to be Eton mess. Eton mess was apparently traditionally served at Eton college during the summer cricket matches. It is possibly the easiest pudding ever – just fresh strawberries layered with whipped cream and crushed meringue. Divine.
Today is the first day of the summer school holidays. We are so excited Chez Gusto. 9 weeks away from school (although not, alas, from work or study for H-G or I) but school hols for Baby Gusto. I am determined to wring every single bit of opportunity out of the summer- no matter what the unreliable English weather holds in store.
Yesterday, the last day of school, was a half day. So as it was impractical to drop off B-G and then go home again I stayed in town. The day started with a banana and cinnamon smoothie at home
Then it was school drop-off followed by trashy food and a trashy book
I still had 2 hours to go, so I went to a new tea shop in Ryde, Hobbs. I really like this place. It is annexed to the very long-standing Hobbs watchmaker and jeweller, and as a cup of tea and a home made cheese scone costs only £2.50, it seemed the perfect place to prop and work on my tax law assignment.
Today however I left B-G to recover from his busy term and went to the local farm shop. This was my happy haul.
Free-range eggs, cherries, white peaches and glorious blood plums.
For dinner I served grilled steak and kebabs with salad and made my favourite blue cheese sauce. Just a clove of garlic, olive oil and St Agur.
This was followed by vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit from the farm shop.
baby Gusto went to bed and Husband Gusto and I sat and sipped tea and ate our way through the fruit bowl. This was quite literally what was left…..
Good, happy day.
This little chap has been visiting Cowes for some months now.
Our first walnut crop.
I try very hard to make only one meal for all the family. However there are days when I just know that Baby-Gusto is not going to eat anything on offer and then I am usually scratching my head trying to think of something he will eat. Last night we had potato and spinach curry, and I needed something easy for B-G. I tried something I have never done before but looked easy enough… ham and cheese pinwheels.
These worked really well, and although are probably not too high in nutritional value at least made a change from cucumber and boiled rice which is what B-G would eat every day of his life if he could.
I used puff pastry, then spread it with a mix of mayo and tomato sauce. (I know, I know….. I should have used passata but this was meant to be quick and my energy levels were low). I then topped it with sliced ham….
and then cheese….
roll and slice
then bake in a medium – hot oven for about 15 minutes or so.
This went down very well with Baby-Gusto. Sometimes just getting food into them is a win.
On the other hand Husband-Gusto and I had the world’s quickest potato and spinach curry.
Just potatoes, carrots and onions simmered in light coconut milk with a tablespoon of curry powder. For the last 5 minutes or so spinach was stirred in. This was a bit too soupy and next time I will try a trick that one of my favourite bloggers Annika suggested of mashing half the potato. Annika is from Estonia and I love looking at her adventures and food. Her potato curry recipe is here.
Just some random pics and eats from the week. I went to Quarr Abbey with a friend for afternoon tea. I am preparing a proper blog post but in the meantime.
Very good cheese scone with apple chutney.
A pirate festival at Ryde.
New tea-shop in Ryde, Hobbs. Loved this decor
I also loved that a simple cup of herbal tea was not extortionate. Proper blog post coming soon on that score too.
Best ever supper – tomatos and cheese on toast.