"Remember that it will taste better the next day" Jane Grigson
A busy week is looming so it's possible there will not be many posts this week. For my sister and husband are coming to visit for a few days and they are jam-packed with lunches and dinners. I am only providing one of the lunches - and a couple of light dinners - maybe they won't even happen because of the lunches that will have preceded them. It will be fun, but I think I need to be prepared.
The biggest occasion for me to prepare is lunch on Thursday with friends as well, so after a lot of thought I have decided to make a terrine de campagne. Like this beautifully authentic looking one from Elizabeth David.
I have made them before, and really I should do it more often. Many years ago I even bought a Le Creuset terrine like this one to make them in. Every time I see it in the drawer I tell myself I should have another go. After all they are not difficult to make and are so impressive to serve.
"Lining the tin in bacon takes 5 minutes and the rest is like mixing meatballs." Not Quite Nigella
I really don't remember which recipes I have used though. Most likely Elizabeth David's although I may well have left out the pig's liver. Robert Carrier's duck terrine with orange is a bit too much of a faff - I mean he talks aspic, which I am not about to make.
"It is the first thing that travellers in France think of buying for a lunchtime picnic. In the midday shade of a walnut tree, or poplars bordering a canal, two or three pâtés are laid out on the cloth, with new crusted bread, good butter, fruit, cheese and wine - not always very good wine perhaps, but very good pâté, and each day's choice differing in flavour from the one before." Jane Grigson
That is so true. It is indeed one of the first things we buy when we get to France. I admit that often we just buy it in the hypermarket, but even there they are displayed in ceramic tureens and look as if they have been individually made by a French housewife. Of course they haven't, but they certainly look like it and there is always a huge variety to choose from. Duck, pork, rabbit with nuts, or fruit, or herbs. The variety is endless. And every little village has several.
"the simple pátés produced in unique variety in every village in France, above the size of a hamlet." Jane Grigson
She speaks of the village in which she stays in France having four charcuteries, and in each one there will be at least three different varieties. I can indeed vouch for that. The village in which I used to stay had at least three charcuteries I seem to remember. Jane Grigson even has advice on how to buy them:
"When you go into a strange charcuterie, be brave. Take your time and buy small amounts of all the pâtés. There will not be sulks and sighs à l'anglaise - nor murmurings from the other customers behind. An enterprising greed is the quickest way to any French person's generosity and kindness." Jane Grigson
And it is certainly true that the French take their time when buying food in small shops. My friend Sue and I once gave up whilst waiting for the local lady to buy her meat in a small butcher's. We were not as patient as the French and after about quarter of an hour we left and probably went to the hypermarket. Which is very sad.
Here of course we don't really have the luxury of choosing home-made terrines. You can buy pâté but terrines are harder to come by. So have a go at making your own. You don't really need a special Le Creuset dish - any kind of loaf tin or ceramic dish will do. Start by using somebody's recipe and when you have made a few, improvise.
"The seasoning of pâtés is a personal affair, but allow for the fact that foods to be eaten cold need more seasoning than foods to be eaten hot. It’s prudent to try out a small rissole (fried or baked), before irrevocably committing the pâté to the oven. Should you have overdone the seasoning, add more chopped meat, or – in desperate situations – some breadcrumbs." Jane Grigson
Some people think breadcrumbs make them lighter. So here are a few that I found to choose from: Jane Grigson; Raymond Blanc; Not Quite Nigella - a delicious looking Pork, pistachio and cranberry terrine; Nigel Slater - Pig's cheek and apricot terrine; Elizabeth David - Pork and spinach terrine; Maggie Beer - Chook and Pork Terrine; and Valli Little of delicious. - Simple terrine with cranberries and pistachios. And I think I'll go with that one - it's another pork and chicken mix. I think I've made the Elizabeth David spinach one before, and it was mildly disappointing.
And the taste improves on keeping, so I should make it tomorrow. I think it's going to be cooler tomorrow. And I can serve some of my new plum chutney with it. And cornichons of course. But what else? I could be utterly lazy and pretend I'm in a French hypermarket when I go to Coles or Woolworths tomorrow and just buy things that will look good on a plate. I could even do that melon salad thing again. Or maybe a quiche or a fish paste. Yes something fishy.