I’m a person that likes to complain. A lot. Indeed, my poor wife likes to mock me because about one out of every five things I say begins with the phrase “Do you know what really annoys me?”. Of course the usual response to that is a heavy sigh and an eye-roll, followed by “No darling, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”. What can I say? Some people are perpetually positive, and some people are more “glass half-empty”.
I’ll share my latest gripe with you, dear readers, since I’m sure you’re very eager to know. You’d think I’d just be happy that the darkness has gone; that summer is here; that the temperatures are in excess of a balmy 32 degrees every day or so. Well, I am, but I have a big problem. It’s not the perma-daylight that keeps me awake. It’s not the rooster which starts crowing at 3.30am, right when I’m about to finally drift off. No, it’s mosquitoes.
I knew about these obnoxious little trolls long before I came here. I knew they were prolific in summer, and of course they exist in France, but here… they’re just everywhere! Obviously, it doesn’t help that we live next to the forest and not far from a river – both prime breeding grounds for the little suckers, but after spending a weekend in the garden I’ve got about forty bites. Not cool. I have a bad habit of scratching them which ends up making the bite areas huge and inflamed. Bleurgh. Still – to end that little digression on a positive note though, I am thankful that at least I’m living in a part of the world which has a good handle on malaria and yellow fever and the like, so I don’t need to worry about catching something like that from the blood-sucking little parasites.
I did mention being in the garden though – I’ve now planted most things outside. All that remains is the potatoes, and I’m just waiting a few more days for those. The final list is marrowfat peas, leeks, beetroot, runner beans, some sort of red lettuce thing (whose name I can’t remember at all), tomatoes, red peppers, espelette peppers, cucumbers and squash. The potatoes that I’ll be growing are Blue Congo and Apache - sorry about the first link, I couldn’t find any English wiki link about the potato. Here’s one side of the greenhouse after my mosquito-filled weeding and planting session on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the garden, William enjoys helping out with the watering…
When you’ve spent a whole weekend digging, weeding, getting stung by nettles and bitten by evil insects then I think you could say you’ve earned a little rest, right? What better way to relax than with some coffee and cake by the river.
On to the food! I was shopping recently and saw an entire wheel of brie for half price (because it was approaching its “sell by” date – something I always find hilarious with cheese, since it’s probably been sitting on a shelf in a cellar in France somewhere for 6 months before even being shipped to Sweden). So home I went with this massive, calorie-laden disc and then I got a bit stuck as to what I could do with it.
Something I hadn’t made in absolutely years was fried brie (I think the “traditional” version of this dish uses camembert but I’m not such a fan of the stuff). In any case, fried brie makes an absolutely fantastic starter, or even as an hors d’oeuvre if you make the pieces bite-sized. Personally, we ate it as a main course. We didn’t want anything too carby or too filling, and so while this is quite a decadent dish, if you eat it as your only course it really is just the right amount.
I served it with some pea sprouts which I’d seen in the store recently, which were absolutely delicious, and of course a nice bit of redcurrant jelly (or lingonberry jam if you have it!).
- 2 x 150g pieces of Brie
- 40g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 3tbsps Plain Flour
- 1 Egg
- 2tbsps Redcurrant Jelly
- ~200ml sunflower or canola oil for frying
- Mix the panko and flour together in a bowl.
- Place the oil into a large frying pan and put on the stove to heat up. While the oil is heating, crack the egg into another bowl and whisk up to combine the yolk and white.
- Turn each piece of brie over in the egg until all sides are coated and then roll in the panko and flour mixture.
- Roll the panko covered brie again in the egg and then roll a second time in the panko and flour, being sure to completely cover any gaps.
- Once the oil has reached about 150 degrees Celsius, place the brie into the frying pan and fry for a minute or so on all sides, until golden brown all over.
- Serve immediately with the redcurrant jelly.
- If you find that your brie is quite ripe and runny, even before frying, then place it into the freezer for 30 minutes before making the dish.
- Lingonberry jam can also be used in place of redcurrant jelly. Anything which has a tart flavour goes very well with the full flavour of the brie.
- To pad the dish out into a main meal, serve along with something like, as per the photo, a spinach salad, fresh steamed asparagus and pea shoots, with a twist of lemon and a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzle.