When we lived in Wales there was a fish restaurant we used to go to on a regular basis. It was unlike French fish restaurants but still had a charm of its own.
I used to have hake in batter, not fillet but hake being a round fish it can be cut in the same way as tuna, in sections, this with chips, mushy peas, French bread which was baked in the town of Barry just down the coast and the nearest thing to real French bread I have ever had in the UK. They also made their own tartare sauce using Hellmans mayonnaise and capers. For starters they had potted shrimp and gravalax, and kippers bigger than a dinner plate. For pud there was never any contest, it was fresh raspberries and cream with a piece of shortbread.
Sadly despite its immense popularity it was bought by a brewery chain who ran it into the ground and it eventually closed.
Anyway on Sunday I collected a large quantity of blackberries and a few raspberries and as we had some fromage blanc battu, whipped fromage blanc, we decided to make some shortbread to go with it. We were going to put sugar on the blackberries but they were so sweet and with the shortbread and the slight acidity of the fromage there was no need.
Making the shortbread could not be simpler, you need 9oz of plain flour, 3oz sugar, 6 oz unsalted butter straight from fridge. Mix the lot in a food processor or with a mixer until it turns into a single ball. Roll out as thick as you like and cut into shapes. a glass works fine if you dont have a fancy cutter. I put the shapes onto a buttered tin tray and prick with a fork then bake at 160c, 325f gas mark 3 for 30 mins. It works with blueberries as well.
The next recipe is a variation from a favourite book of mine, Floyd on France which my mum and dad gave me for Christmas in 1987 and whos recipes we have used over and over again, poulet basque being one of them. However as we do them from memory these days, we do not always stick to them to the letter. The tomato ketchup my wife made yesterday, made me want bacon and egg for lunch to try it. We grill poitrine de porc fumé as a substitute for bacon and I think it goes really well, I also fried some bread using vegetable lard.
So a kilo of tomatoes peeled de seeded and finely chopped, half a kilo of onions finely chopped, a kilo of red peppers de seeded and finely chopped, cook the three vegatables in oil for 45 minutes or until they are soft and like a puree. Strain through a fine sieve put back into pan and add 3oz of sugar, 3 large cloves of garlic finely chopped, 1 chilli finely chopped, we use tobasco, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon mustard powder, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 wine glasses of vinegar, we used red wine vinegar and large pinch powdered cloves. Cook over a low heat for about 2 hours stirring now and again with a wooden spoon until you have a thick red sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Next we have a wedding anniverary, the village lamb roast and then the dreaded karioke evening, I just got a new video camera, there may be moving pictures on my next our life in France.