[Note: This post is a couple of days late being assembled. I switched to the new Beta version of Internet Explorer 9 and found that I could not edit the text of my bloog on the WordPress website. I subsequently downloaded the Mozilla Firefox browser and it works perfectly]

At last I seem to be getting back into some moderately serious cooking. Today I made a meal for my friends Tony and Costello. I started by cutting some salad leaves from the lettuces I have growing in my garden. These have been wonderful over the summer months but they are starting to bolt now; I think this will have been the harvest’s swan song. I added a few slices of red and yellow peppers for colour, some chopped spring onions, and cubes of pear for interest. I grated a sprinkling of lemon rind onto the plates and made the dressing with olive oil, lemon juice and a good pinch of Colman’s English mustard powder.

Assembling the ingredients

For the main course, I made coq-au-vin-blanc. I have a large Le Creuset pan that takes a 1.5 kg chicken perfectly. I make this with carrots, parsnips, shallots and garlic. Once the vegetables have been peeled I fry them in the pan, take them out, fry the chicken briefly, put the veg back in around the chicken and then fill up with boiling stock. I put foil over the breast and transfer the pot to the oven for half an hour. Then I remove the foil, whack in a bunch of button mushrooms, and stick it back for another half hour or there abouts. The stock I made with white wine and water, onion, carot, and celery. I made a muslin herb bag and cut the herbs from my garden for this (rosemary, sage, thyme, and bay leaf).

A lot of peeling and chopping goes on (shallots)

I also cooked some potatoes with a full head of garlic which I broke into peeled cloves. I mashed the potatoes with the garlic and a little butter. I carved the chicken and plated it up with the mashed potato and the vegetables that had cooked with the bird. I made a gravy by reducing the stock in the pan. Normally, I would have thickened it with a little flower in butter pellets but this time I used a small amount of corn starch.

For the pudding, I made some meringues and sandwiched them together in pairs with a filling of fromage frais mixed with marscapone cheese (I flavoured this with a teaspoon of vanilla essence). I plated the meringues in soup bowls with some fresh raspberries and blackberries. For good measure, I put a spoonful of the cheese filling on top of the fruit, too.

The wonderful shape of home-made meringues

For once, everything went according to plan, and it was absolutely delicious. It was necessary to devote most of the day to shopping and preparing the ingredients. I made lists and worked methodically through the various stages of the cooking, in a relaxed fashion. In the evening, I did drink rather a lot of red wine, I have to admit.

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