Still, not wanting to shy away from a challenge I updated my cookery book database (a little OCD I know but it evolved from logging all our books into Excel when we moved house the last couple of times and is very useful - even if it does clearly state how many cookbooks I own, 230 but don't tell anyone). I then asked Joe to add a random function especially for this challenge (VLookup and Randbetween apparently (???!)). Bracing myself I pressed F9 to update and the function picked Floyd on France by the flamboyant Keith Floyd.
I'm a bit young to have fully appreciated Keith Floyd when he was at his prime (that's the story I'm sticking to anyway). I was probably still at school when he was gracing our TVs with his cooking and wasn't that interested in watching cookery programmes at the time. I bought the book second hand several years ago, not long after we bought our first house in France. It came highly recommend with lots of great reviews but, I have to admit, I've never cooked anything from it. Now I really see the point of your Random Recipe Challenge, Dom!
Slightly concerned about the amount of butter I was going to have to use and how much wine I was going to have to consume while cooking I selected the recipe using a combination of the very technical method of "eyes shut" with "open and point". My random recipe this month will be Potatoes with Prunes and Raisins or Pommes de terre aux pruneaux et raisins, a dish from the Savoy region of France. It comes under the vegetable dish section and like many French vegetable dishes they've manage to sneak some bacon in. Mr Floyd suggests that it can be eaten as a pudding (it does have a very large prune and raisin ratio) but frankly with the bacon and potato I don't get it as a pudding. His other suggestion is as a "sweet and sour vegetable dish to go with a little roast leg of pork..." which sounds a much better idea to me. The recipe is as follows:
Potatoes with Prunes and Raisins or Pommes de terre aux pruneaux et raisins
Serves 4 (I made half the quantity, which, as side dish, would be plenty for 4 as it's pretty rich).
3 large potatoes, peeled and grated, well rinsed, drained and dried
500g prunes, stoned, soaked and drained
250g raisins, soaked and drained
Dash of eau de vie (I used bourbon)
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
500g diced bacon
|Ready to go into the oven|
|The finished dish|
I have to say I was a bit dubious about this dish to start with, without this challenge I can't imagine it would have caught my eye (it certainly hadn't for the last 8 years of owning the book!). Its ingredients were all good but not something I would necessarily put together, especially in these quantities, however the end result is tastes pretty good. It's definitly very sweet - maybe lose the extra sugar and some of the prunes, their taste is very strong, but as an accompaniment to some grilled meat it's lovely. In my opinion it's more of a wintery dish with some game as Keith Floyd suggests. That said, I would be tempted to cook it to go with a barbeque in the summer.
Thank you for the challenge Dom, it was good to try out something I wouldn't normally have choosen to cook. It was also good to rediscover this rather forgotten book - not long after buying Floyd on France we moved to France and, don't tell anyone, but after a while, I found myself not really liking French food (sacre bleu!). I think there is some truth in the reports of French cooking being in decline, certainly in some areas of France. We used to live in the Languedoc and virtually gave up eating out as the quality of most restaurants was so bad. However flicking through the pages of this book I've been reminded that there is some fantastic cooking out there and some great recipes to try. I'm off to dig out my other French recipe books for a browse and maybe a cook.