Wednesday, June 30, 2010

earthquakes, pillow talk and the great American burger

We had an earthquake here today. I was working on my laptop after lunch when the whole house started shaking and making shifting sounds, as if someone was moving furniture around. I thought I'd imagined it but when I checked on the Centre Sismologique Euro-Méditerranéen website, it was mentioned as having a magnitude of 4.2. Not exactly a force majeure, I grant you, but disconcerting none the less.

In Savoie, new builds and renovations have to be constructed to zone 2 seismic standards, or "elastically", to quote BB tonight, and regretting it instantly, I asked him what that meant:

"Do you understand the difference between elastic deformation and plastic deformation (here we go). Take an elastic band and a plastic ring pack on a pack of beer (I'm not listening. Look! I've got my hands over my ears and I'm humming loudly. La la la la).  If you pull the elastic band, bla bla bla ..."

After the miserable wet start to the summer, we're into our fourth consecutive week of glorious BBQ weather and my recipe de l'été is this, from Jamie Oliver: great American burgers. The pre-cooked translucent red onions keep them moist and the addition of breadcrumbs and parmesan stops them from shrivelling up to half their size the way most home-made burgers do. An absolute must for the barbie season.

olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and finely chopped
breadcrumbs from 4 slices of bread, crusts removed
500g (1lb 2oz) good-quality lean minced beef
1tsp sea salt
1 heaped tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic, beaten
handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Fry the onions in some olive oil until softened (about 10 minutes) and leave to cool.

2. Put the cooled onions into a large bowl with the rest of the burger ingredients. Use clean hands to mix everything together really well, then divide into 6 equal balls for burgers and 18 equal balls for smaller sliders. Roll into burger-shaped patties about 2cm thick.

3. Cook on a BBQ or in a griddle pan - about 3-4 minutes each side.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

quick message part 2

That was a pretty feeble re-entry into the blogosphere, I know. About as impressive as a dull thud. But I just needed to get the ball rolling again. And talking of balls: I've been glued to Wimbledon, but I have a small window of opportunity before Federer v Bozoljac, so here goes.

I got back from Paris after three months away and BB looked as if he'd been dining on dry crusts, he was so thin. I had omitted to leave instructions on what to do when the frozen dinners run out! So what tasty Cordon Bleu repast do you suppose I whipped up for him? Sea scallop carpaccio with cauliflower cream and Imperial caviar? Herb-encrusted breast of plover with a red wine and elderberry reduction? Blue lobster stew with sage, caramelized onions and young leeks?

Nope. A crisp sandwich.

What you do is: take yesterday's bread, spread it with some unsalted butter and sprinkle on a packet of salt and vinegar crisps which you've bashed up with a rolling pin. Oh, the irony!