Sunday, December 19, 2010

Things to do with the family jewels ...

In recent news from the world of medicine, researchers have used human testicles  (male, fairly obviously) to restore pancreatic function in diabetic mice. We really, really need more studies like this. I mean, I bet there's not one of you that has not, at some time, stood sadly watching your beloved pet mouse frisking - slowly - around his cage and thought "Gosh! Wouldn't it be neat if I could donate one of my/my partner's (delete where not applicable) goolies so that little (insert name here) could lead a happy and fulfilling life, and never again have track lines from shooting up insulin?'

This is the sort of stuff real scientists should be doing. That, and of course working on reducing a megawatt semiconductor laser and associated power supply to the point where it can be implanted in a shark's head.

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned we were off to Bryan's for a housewarming last weekend? Well, we made it. And it was, in fact, us that were warming the house (apartment, whatever, let's not be picky) because the central heating certainly wasn't: he'd managed (god alone knows how) to get the gas turned on but the man that looks after the boiler was a no-show, so it stayed off. Whatever, we had enough to eat and drink, and the colour scheme was definitely warming.

Someone definitely loved fire engines. Or perhaps just painted them for a living.

Picked up Mal and Tony from Geneva on Thursday and dropped them home. We've strict instructions from Malyon not to frighten him or behave too wierdly: apparently she wants to keep him. Mind you, I'm not too sure she's really helping matters by telling him that I might be bringing the shotgun along ...

Do you know what I've done just now? At 11pm on a Friday night? Shovelled 50cm of snow from off and around my bloody car, that's what. Woke up this morning to find the world covered in white stuff - yet again - and when I went down to get the car I found her shivering and surrounded by snow. The snowplough had in fact come up our street at some ungodly hour of the moaning, and thoughtfully left a wall of snow about a metre high across the entrance to the little carpark below the cemetery where the Alfa lives, and looking at that and at the state of the roads it seemed pretty obvious that I wasn't going to be taking her into work.

Luckily Margo's little Suzuki is much better on snow than my poor thing with her fat tyres. Although the trip back home was a bit of an adventure: I had to get out and push on a couple of occasions going up a few little hills where the road was covered in slush on ice. Some of the cars behinds us weren't as lucky.

Today dawned bright and clear - and bloody cold, at -9°. But I very very cautiously manoeuvred the car down the hill to where the roads were clear and headed off to Chambéry anyway: we'd run out of wine and other vital supplies. Despite the season the supermarkets were still pretty deserted, which is always good. And the little man handing out slabs of foie gras on toast was there again, which was even better.

And as it's the season for goodwill and generous acts, I even searched out a little producteur at the market who does what they call "les legumes oubliés" and got some parsnip for Margo, to roast with the chicken tonight. (Should you ever find yourself in a French market filled with a desire for parsnip, the word is panais, by the way.)

Then off to Sophie's for the usual after-market apéro, and I made something for lunch that really is too good not to be shared. It's remarkably simple, and requires a glass of white wine to make the sauce, which would have to make it a favourite. It is - drumroll please - Turbans de saumon aux coquilles St-Jacques.

Basically, you start off with a fillet of salmon: not too thick. (I had to cut mine in half lengthways - lucky I just happen to have a decent filleting knife.) Then you remove the skin, which you should not throw away, because you'll need it later on. Now cut the fillet and skin into strips about 3cm wide.

Once this is done just roll up a scallop in each strip of salmon fillet, and wrap a strip of the skin decoratively around each roll: not only is it pretty, it acts as a sort of hernia girdle during cooking. Put them aside and start doing something useful, like getting whatever it is you're planning on eating with them ready. (Personally, I'd go - in fact, went - for asparagus. But pois gourmands - that's mangetout to you - would be good too.)

Ah, you also have to make the sauce. Which is where the white wine comes in. Amongst other things. Start off by chopping a small onion, ditto an apple: let them melt for a bit in some butter over low heat. When they've started to colour a bit add a dose of decent curry powder and the glass of white, and let it all reduce for ten minutes or so.

Under normal circumstances I'd use an immersion blender (yes, we got one when Malyon was still cute and toothless) or, in the worst case, a sieve to mix everything together: Sophie is not, unfortunately, that well-equipped so I wound up squeezing the apples and onions against the side of the saucepan with a spoon (to get the max of juice out) and straining the lot through a colander. Whatever works for you.

After all that, just add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, some saffron if you're feeling luxurious, and a tablespoon or so of butter: incorporate all that and keep it warm whilst you cook the salmon. Which is also simple (just as well, as you've probably finished off the bottle of white by now):  stick them in a decent frying pan on top of some sizzling butter for about five minutes to cook the underside, then put the lot under a really hot grill for another five minutes to finish the job.

Arrange on (heated) plates, slosh some sauce over, and there you have it.

Eventually Sophie had to leave for Aix, and I  had in fact planned on following her fairly quickly. As it happens the first 20 metres went fine: then I got to the uphill bit in the driveway, and it became clear that I was not going to get out without help. Luckily, I had the chains in the car: rather less luckily, it's been at least six years since I last had to put the damn things on, and the instructions are in Polish. Or Czech, or some other language completely lacking in vowels.

And the helpful little diagrams are sod-all use, 'cos by the time you've got the chains around the tyre they look nothing at all like the picture (it probably doesn't help that the things seem to spend their time in the box tying themselves into knots), and the little stick-figure drawing of a man with a smily face on the last page is nothing short of insulting.

Whatever, after a half hour of muffled cursing I finally got the things on, triumphantly drove the 40m up to the road, and then took the damn things off again. Bloody marvellous. And I bet I looked a right prat - could probably have sold tickets to watch the spectacle.

Anyway, Margo had some plates and stuff that we most emphatically do not want to see ever again to drop off to Bryan, and Mal, Jerry and Tony wanted to do some Christmas shopping in Chambéry, so I though that rather than go home to be welcomed by the dog I might as well meet up with them. Which is what I did.

Parked in one of the little side streets behind Curial, fell heavily on my arse getting out, and wound up at Cardinal's for a couple of beers whilst waiting for the kids to finish.

As luck would have it, there's a little bouquiniste on one of the little cobbled streets off Place Metropole who always has interesting stuff in the window. So although the light was poor and I didn't have a tripod with me, I took a photo anyway. Don't show this to your kids, they might start asking questions you do not wish to answer at this time.

1 comment:

  1. Is this a good time to observe that it's perlurry hot here?! Positively steamy, in fact, and Christchurch is never steamy!