Many of you may know by now that I am attempting to learn French cuisine. This is a new skill set for me as living in London and working long hours for years (decades in fact) left me with a penchant for take-aways and little ability in the kitchen – at least where cooking is concerned.
Anyway, I realised shortly after I moved to France that cooking was going to have to be done, we’re too far from the shops to nip out for last minute shopping and too far from a take away to be disorganised, and I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I am aided in my new venture by my neighbours, a French cookbook and the man who owns the bakery where we used to have our bread delivered from – don’t ask, I don’t know how this happened – it just did!
I have been watching Master Chef the Professionals and How to cook with Heston Blumenthal – it all looks so easy. I thought I would attempt Le Crumble with crème anglais and a fruit jus. All seemed to go well, I used defrosted fruit from my freezer – all organically grown by me; crumble mix – not too shabby; crème anglais – like a dream. Jus – not quite as I planned. I am much taken with the word jus (pronounced joo) – it sounds so chefy.
I made up my jus mix – I sieved the juice from strawberries, rhubarb and gooseberries, added a little port and some red wine and some sugar and put on the oven to boil to be followed by a period of simmering and stirring.
While I waited for the pan to reach boiling point, I nipped into my study to quickly look something up on the internet. Later I started to smell something very acrid and realised that the room was filling with smoke.
I ran into the kitchen but I couldn’t see what the problem was as visibility was so poor and the pungent smell of burning was so bad I could hardly talk for coughing – my jus!
I managed to get the pan out of the door without setting fire to my hair (I have done this before so I am very conscious not to hold flaming saucepans near my head) and aired the house out. The animals saw this as an opportunity to run amok adding to the chaos as smoke billowed out of all the doors and windows – thankfully none of the neighbours called the Pompiers (fire brigade) which would have been really embarrassing.
The lesson learned this week therefore was I jus(t) have to try harder.