For me, there is nothing quite so wonderful as a lazy afternoon spent, on my own, with a cup of tea and a new cookery book to look at. So you can imagine my joy when my friend Angela lent me her copy of Ripailles by Stephane Reynaud. As soon as I found the time I plunged in and lost myself in a world of classic French recipes and beautiful, simple photography.
This weighty tome is a sheer joy to read with simple recipes using great ingredients. However, it also reveals itself as a prime example of a strange quirk in my nature – I choose recipe books based on how they look and feel and the pleasure I take in reading them, not because I want to cook, or even eat, everything in them.
If I am honest I would probably make no more than 20 or so of the 299 recipes in this book; I have no interest in making Salade de Museau (pork head salad), I refuse to eat fois gras and the smell alone of anduillettes (offal and tripe based sausages) is enough to have me running for cover. But I love reading about them. Is that a little perverse? I really don’t know for sure but I believe that my general cooking is improved by learning about new techniques and ways to pack flavour into simple dishes. I may be fooling myself but at least I am a happy fool.
Having drooled liberally all over Angela’s copy (sorry about that) I dropped some very heavy hints and received a copy of my own for my birthday and I still can’t seem to put it away – it sits on my desk waiting to be adored – it’s just that kind of book.
One recipe that I have made (twice) is Filet de Cochon a la Dijonnaise (Pork Loin with Dijon Mustard). This is a simple, elegant dish, rich with cream and layered with delicate flavours. Buy good quality, outdoor reared pork and you will be rewarded with a tender alternative to a roast. I served the dish up with green veg and new potatoes from the allotment which worked perfectly with the rich cream. Be warned, there is a lot of sauce and you will be tempted to eat far more of it than is good for you. Martin and Lyssa (No 2 daughter) thought it was good enough to pour into a mug and drink but I am working on a less artery threatening way of using up the leftovers. I would welcome your ideas…
1 kg Pork Loin Joint
2 Cloves Garlic
300 ml Veal Stock (or Beef Stock)
150 ml White Port
300 ml Single Cream
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
Finely chop the garlic and shallots.
In a heavy pan brown the pork loin all over in the butter. Add the shallots and garlic and soften gently. De-glaze the pan with the white port (if you don’t have any you could use white wine instead), cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.
Add the stock, re-cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Add the cream, cook for a further 30 minutes and season.
Just before serving stir in the Dijon Mustard.