Blogging gets you into some fun things. A few weeks ago I received an email from a writer called Rosy Thornton with the header “A cheeky request“. Her new book book, Tapestry of Love is coming out in paperback at the start of October. A fictional story of a divorcee, Catherine Markstone moving from England to the French Cévennes Mountains. This is a story of a woman falling ” in love with a place and its people: a portrait of landscape, a community and a fragile way of life.” Rosy was inspired by a holiday in the region more than 20 years ago.
This is France, so food plays a major part in the book with tastes of the region; figs honey , home grown vegetable soups, foraged foods , walnuts , chestnuts, mirabelles & wild boar from the forests. Plenty of people growing and eating their own food. To complement the book Rosy had put together a series of recipes and she asked if I would be interested in trying both the recipes and the novel. As well as being food-obsessive I am a rabid reader especially of fiction
For me the use of food in literature transports me better than descriptions of buildings or landscapes. Recently I prepared Fried Green Tomatoes from one of my favourite books FGT at the Whistlestop Cafe . The Norwegians descendants of Lake Wobegon by Garisson Keillor honoring their ancestors with an annual Lutefisk hit and every time I read Haruki Marukami I yearn for Japanese noodles on a hotplate. Food in books is a double edge sword I couldn’t eat whole eggs for year after reading Margaret Atwood’s Edible Woman
The greatest exponent of food in fiction for me is Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel whose book Like Water for Chocolate begins each chapter with a delicious recipes, quail with rose petal sauce and chillis in walnut sauce.
The first recipe I tried from Tapestry of Love was a simple Guinea Fowl recipe. Originating in West Africa French people often keep these pintades, on smallholdings, however they are still classed as Game and generally you start seeing them for sale in England from September until December. Generally smaller than chickens they can dry out so you need to be careful with cooking.
This recipe was Roasted Spatchcocked Guinea Fowl with Rosemary . I adore anything with rosemary ( I am growing cuttings from the massive plant by our front door in preparation for moving house) Spatchcocking is sublimely simple and always makes me feel like a real farmers wife, I also added roasted some fresh figs studded with pancetta (Cumbrian) alongside the guinea fowl , both of these ingredients mentioned in the book.
I made this for Friday night dinner, the rule for which is that is must be served from a large platter from the coffee table and eaten with fingers while watching movies ( Wild aren’t we! ) . The guinea fowl were eaten one at a time pulled apart tender meat with crispy skin ,dipped into the roasting juices . Hunks of sweet oozing fig and crispy pancetta.
I also made some lentils simmered in white wine with onions, garlic ,carrots celery and herbs (bay leaf, thyme and parsley). Nutty nuggets with softened vegetables, I love lentils cooked in this way either hot or cold.
Tapestry of Love is out on the 14th of October 2010 available to order from Amazon , I was going to give my copy away but it’s so good I have to send it to my mum.
Next recipe will be a Wild Boar Stew ( made with Pork) including Chestnuts & Kale.
Spatchcocked Guinea Fowl with Rosemary Figs and Pancetta
2 guinea fowl ( One per 2-3 people)
a good handful of rosemary sprigs
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Spatchcock the guinea fowl there are plenty of You Tube videos to assit you here
- Rub the spatchcocked fowl all over with the olive oil and crushed garlic, season well, and stud liberally with rosemary sprigs place in a roasting tray on a bed of rosemary , also put into the tray fresh figs which have a piece of pancetta inside them
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. and roast the 35-40 minutes (until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted), basting once after 15 minutes.
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes then serve with all the juices for dipping
200g of lentils
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 Bay Leaf
100ml of white wine
1tsp of salt
- Fry the onions , celery , carrots , garlic in olive oil
- Add the lentils , wine , bay leaf, salt and enough water to cover
- Simmer for 20 minute until softened
- Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley