Sunday, 19 October 2014

J for Jersey

Dee:  “The channel island of Jersey has an interesting cuisine, incorporating both English and French influences.  For one reason or another we had to amend the recipes we settled on, but were pleased with the results.  The dishes we sampled were good wholesome fare which was simple to prepare but requiring care and attention to achieve the great home-cooked tastes.  One regret I have with this cuisine is not allowing enough time to prepare any ‘black butter’ which is a preserve made from apples, liquorice and spices.  I think this would have been great spread on some toasted bread.  Maybe I could make some in time for Christmas...”

Bean Crock
Dee:  “I have to confess that we didn’t cook this dish authentically, but we didn’t mess about with the recipe too much, so hopefully the end result would still be recognisable to someone from Jersey.  We used tinned beans, the only ones available being butter beans and a mixed bean salad, and added cubed tenderloin of pork, rather than a pig’s trotter.  First, we fried up the onions, added the cubed pork and browned it, then added it to a stock pot into which we had put the drained beans.  The whole lot was then stirred round and we poured in some chicken stock to just about cover the bean and pork mixture.  The whole lot was then brought up to the boil and simmered until the liquid had reduced to the consistency of a pourable gravy.  We served it with fried shredded cabbage and a slice of the cabbage loaf.  I was pleased with how it turned out.  A few simple ingredients made for a tasty and filling meal, perfect for the end of a sunny autumn day.  Better still, there was enough left over for tea tomorrow.”

Cabbage Loaf
Dee:  “I think I need to see this being made in situ, as I didn’t end up with a ‘real’ cabbage loaf.  The recipe said to lightly tie the cabbage leaves to the dough prior to baking, but I was a bit wary of doing this as I was worried that it would mess up the finished loaf, so I just laid them on top of the dough and hoped for the best.  When the baking time was up, I was left with crispy cabbage leaves covering a loaf with a pale top, so I put the dough, without the cabbage leaves, back into the oven for ten minutes to finish off the top and put the cabbage leaves to one side.  At this point, it might sound like a failure but it really wasn’t:  We ended up with a nice loaf which was a perfect accompaniment to the bean crock and cabbage, and the cabbage leaves made for tasty low fat crisps.  We should have used them as a garnish to the bean crock but scoffed them before we took the photo.”

 Jersey Wonders
Dee:  “This is another Jersey speciality that we compromised on authenticity for.  These distinctively shaped biscuits are supposed to be deep fried but in the interests of keeping the calories down, we decided to bake them instead.  There’s also a special way of folding them after slicing them down the middle to achieve their characteristic shape but we couldn’t replicate it so just went with as close an approximation as we could get.  Taste wise  they were sweet and crunchy, just like a good biscuit should be.  The deep fried versions are supposed to be more akin to doughnuts, but we were happy with what we achieved with ours.”

Soundtrack:  Nerina Pallot – Fires
Dee:  “I’d heard the single ‘everybody’s gone to war’ before, but the rest of Nerina Pallot’s music was new to me.  She doesn’t make traditional music of Jersey, but is probably the best known recording artist from there to date.  She’s very much in the country-rock-pop female singer-songwriter genre, alongside Natalie Imbruglia, Joan Osborne, Sheryl Crowe and Sophie B Hawkins.  The single was the clear stand out track for me, although the piano and vocal ballad ‘Sophia’ was quite pretty.  The rest of the album was easy on the ears and fine to listen to on a dark Sunday evening chilling out in pyjamas with a glass of wine, which is what we’re doing as we write this blog entry, so it’s all good.”

Next Week:  K for Kazakhstan

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