Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Lenten Thoughts

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Lenten Thoughts

Article excerpt

LENT is already with us, St Valentine's Day is on Sunday rapidly followed by Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday: two days of chocolates and pancakes, then a plunge into fasting and abstinence. I wonder if they still make Plum Shuttles or Valentine Buns in Rutland, which is now happily back on the map. Plum Shuttles were oval buns made in the form of a weaver's shuttle, containing currants and caraway seeds, and were carried around on St Valentine's Day. The day preceding was the feast day of St Catherine dei Ricci who had a terrible time in the Lent of 1542 when she meditated so heartrendingly on the crucifixion of Jesus that she became seriously ill; her body re-enacting the sufferings of Our Lord from the time of His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, through His scourging, His trial, His painful journey to Golgotha and His crucifixion. Then a vision of the risen Christ restored her, but she continued with these visions every Thursday until mercifully released from them in 1554, poor dear.

I'm glad to say that Kyle Cathie is republishing Patricia Wells's Bistro Cooking in paperback. I have always loved it and have made these pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, as I am not mad on the sweet ones. Crepes aux courgettes La Mere Poulard

8 oz of courgettes

1 large egg

2 tablespoons of thick cream

1 tablespoon of plain flour

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 tablespoons of corn or groundnut oil

1 oz of unsalted butter

This receipt originally came from the famous La Mere Poulard's restaurant which apparently served the best omelettes in the world, and still does, I shouldn't wonder.

Rinse the courgettes and trim off the ends. Shred the courgettes in a food processor or on a hand grater (very easy). In a stainless-steel strainer, arrange the shreds in layers, salting between the layers. Place the strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid, and, pressing out the liquid from time to time, set aside for 30 minutes, then squeeze out any excess liquid with your hands.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk the egg with a fork. Add the cream, flour and minced garlic, and whisk to blend smoothly. Add the courgettes and toss with a fork in the egg mixture. The mixture should just coat the courgettes. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and half the butter in a 12-inch nonstick omelette pan over a medium-high heat. When the fats are hot, but not smoking, spoon a heaped tablespoon of the courgettes into the pan. …

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