Friday, December 4, 2009

the law is a (horse's) ass

Our fireman friend Titi came round yesterday looking for some legal advice on French planning law - from me, a Scottish criminal lawyer. I'm quite often asked for advice on legal problems as varied as (French) divorce, (French) debt recovery, (French) liquidation, (French) land disputes, (Italian!) consumer law, (American!!) consumer law (I actually wrote a vague 'I know my consumer rights and will take you to court unless ...' letter on that occasion and got some money back for the boy), but they all look at me in disbelief when I try to explain that the law is completely different in every country and anyway, I'm not an expert in any of these fields in Scotland, never mind anywhere else. But they just don't get it.

Titi's being taken to court by the mairie for building an impressive wooden shelter for his beautiful new horse (unlike Nainbo's unimpressive one for his donkeys) without planning permission.

I appreciate you can't have people building willy-nilly all over the shop, but we're talking about a horse-box-sized construction in the middle of the woods to protect his animal from the harsh winter elements - not the Elysée Palace. Ultimately the mairie  could allow him to leave it there but they're making him pull it down and we can't help thinking that this is an act of petty retribution for Titi resigning from the local council. (I could say a lot more here about local planning laws and how zones suddenly change from non-constructable to constructable depending on who's in office and how much land the incumbents have - but then I would probably become an (involuntary) expert in (French) libel law.)

Anyway, he's refusing to pull it down so we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

BB managed to wrench himself away from the kitchen table and Adventure Rider today (it almost required medical intervention and skin grafts!) but left 25 metres of water pipe for the new house uncoiled round and round the kitchen and the sitting-room in an attempt to straighten it out. Have you ever tried balancing a hot tray of chicken kievs whilst playing Chinese Ropes with 25 mm plastic piping at knee height? Thought not.

This was a Ready Steady Cook meal because all I had in the fridge were two chicken breasts, an egg and some butter - and some two day-old bread, a clove of garlic and potatoes and herbs from the garden. So I made chicken kiev and hasselback potatoes with sage - which was very, very tasty.

Chicken Kiev

Serves 2
2 skinless chicken breasts
2 large knobs of butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 dessert spoon finely chopped herbs, such as parsley and/or chives
1 egg
Plain flour for dusting
Olive oil

1. Place each chicken breast between clingfilm and pound using the flat side of a mallet to about ½ cm / ¼  inch thickness.

2. Mash the butter, garlic and herbs together and form into 2 log shapes.

3. Place the butter at one end of the chicken breast and roll up, folding the sides in as you go, to completely enclose the butter. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Coat the chicken in flour, dip in the egg mixture then coat with breadcrumbs.

5. Heat some olive oil in a frying-pan and shallow fry until the kievs are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and place in a moderately hot oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.

Hasselback Potatoes with Sage

Peel some potatoes and make small slices ¾ of the way through each one all along it. Tuck some torn sage into each slit, brush with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in a moderately hot oven for 45-60 minutes until soft in the middle.


Mlle Paradis said...

Sounds like you both deserved that meal!

Pene said...

I think you were very creative.
The trick to slicing potatoes when making hasselback potatoes is to sit the potato in a big spoon. Then the knife hits the sides of the spoon & doesn't go all the way thru the spud.

Sarah said...

Mlle Paradis - I certainly did after the balancing act!

Pene - Good tip. Thanks!

Kathie said...

We made these the day you posted them (sans sage leaves). They seem to bake a bit faster than regular baked spuds, and seem like a cross between baked and fried potatoes; only needed a light dusting of salt, no extra butter or oil or sour cream. Will definitely fix them again. Thanks for sharing this recipe!