Traditionally I eat fish on Fridays. Not because I'm religious, because I'm not, but mainly because the fish on offer is more varied on Thursdays or Fridays, and the prices therefore more reasonable.
It happens sometimes that fish is not on the menu, but eggs instead - Friday's eggs are always better, the hens seem to be looking forward to the weekend and do the job better....
It sometimes happens as well, that I take a "vegetarian" meal on Fridays. This happens when the fish is too expensive and the hens haven't done the job!
I'm carnivore, and not long ago, any meal not containing meat was a wasted meal.
With age, lack of teeth, prices of meat, lack of large hunger or appetite, vegetables now take on a different aspect.
Don't get me wrong - I've always liked vegetables if the trouble was taken with them to cook and serve them correctly, originally, attractively, and not just throw them on a plate and warm them up in a microwave!
Today - I'm going to eat a dish of mixed vegetable purée, and I'd like to describe it to you, so keep on reading....
Firstly - you need access to good, fresh attractive, colourful vegetables that can be puréed, like the ones above.
OK - I don't have the leeks, I find they don't "purée" too well, but it's Autumn. In October there are the first signs of "winter vegetables" and Halloween isn't far off, so all the root vegetables like the turnip family and it's variations are all available.
The French terms, like "gourde", "potiron" spring immediately to mind as ideal candidates.
(Broccoli, Carrot and potatoes)
All the above vegetables ar the classical ingredients. Mainly root vegetables they are relatively long to cook, so to avoid losing the food value, I tend to cook them individually in those bags I always talk about - they call them "freezer bags" and you seal them with a little wire thing delivered with the bags.
The vegetables - peeled finely to avoid waste, washed in cold water, are placed with seasoning (salt, pepper possibly finely hacked onions, shallots, garlic, parsley etc) into the individual bags - seperately. This allows you to do larger quantities and use some for the puree, some in other ways. It also keeps the colours seperate, and allows the "assembly" on a serving dish in a very attractive manner, and the tastes apart.
These bags are all put into the VAPOUR COOKER - not a PRESSURE cooker, and allowed to cook until they are tender within their own juices. This can take quite some time, but in fact, the longer - the better.
In the bags, they won't lose taste or value but will be easier to purée, by hand or in a kitchen machine. The facts of the matter are such that you can only do yourself good by eating this type of preparation, except when you burn or scald your fingers when you start to purée the cooked vegetables, because, ideally this should be done whilst they are still relatively warm or even hot. You can leave the vegetables in their own bags, still sealed, and simply squeeze them with your hand - this will give a rougher purée which is my personal favourite. Kitchen machines can also be used, but they give - I find - a purée too smooth and too blended. If you can't support the heat, use a rolling pin, just put the sealed bags on a flat surface and slowly, without too much force to avoid bursting the bag, roll the rolling pin over the contents. Another advantage of using your hand is that you don't open the bags, so you can pop them either into the fridge or freezer for later use, or back into the vapour cooker or microwave to warm up for immediate use.
Of course, there are personal tastes which must be added, things like muscat nut, parsley or other herbs, butter, cream, and many more.
Don't forget - this is a dish of purée - not a soup, so as much liquid as possible should be forced back into the purée. Since the juice comes from the vegetables, a lot of the nutritional value is in this juice, so don't throw it away.
I always recall my mother's favourite quote when she served up vegetables, normally over cooked in massive quantities of plain water - "Here's your vegetables - I've already had the best part, I drank the juice....!" -
Gee, Thanks Mum! I was not asked in this survey.... Now then - you're ready for service. The nicest presentation, I find, is in a flattish, large wide platter. This allows you to put more and different vegetables, with their different colours, with a sprig or two of maybe parsley unchopped, or water cress - unchopped as well - although sprigs of dill and other things will go very well. Even green capers, whole - placed on top of the whitish cauliflower for example....Just let your imagination run riot......
Of course there are "luxury" versions of this dish, where vegetables such as asparagus, artichoke, chestnut even mushrooms are puréed, and they are also delicious. I just find that those particular vegetables can be served in such much more inventive and original ways, and they are expensive so they need more deliberation. In all the cases, I would suggest a light, dry white wine, well chilled, or a light in colour Rosé also well chilled.
As a dessert, keep on doing the "good for me" bit - what else than a selection of straight forward, fresh FRUIT? Wine suggestion - a sweetish dessert wine.
That's it - off to table........Bonne Appétit....!
iwmpop(mr le marquis) - Vauvert,France - Octobre 2010
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