Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck
Roosting on the gate

2011 - My second year of blogging in Brittany

I felt I would like to share some of the photographs I have taken so far this year and some from other years. I live in a beautiful part of Brittany and just love being here. It's a lovely place to photograph and enjoy being in through all the seasons and hopefully this blog will show you where I live my life.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Baking again and Snowdrops

I’ve been baking again.  How I love to make my loaves now that I’ve got my recipe off pat and can gather and add the ingredients without consulting my printed reminder.   I love the huge china bowl with its golden yellow outside.  Not a true Mason Cash bowl, officially called a “cane bowl” because of the colour created by the local clay, but a generic example which is just as good.   I no longer realise it isn’t the traditional model which my mother used and which I used to stand by in the hope of gliding my fingers round the white glossy interior to collect the last scrapings of raw cake mix.
As I open the paper wrapping of the strong white bread flour there is always a teaspoonful of its white dust trapped under the creases of the top fold, and the powder drifts across my wooden kitchen table settling like snow on the verges of the lane.  I so enjoy opening a fresh bag of flour and of sugar too but I always hold the sugar bag over the sink so the grains hidden in the origami of the bag top fall harmlessly onto the stainless steel so I don’t hear the crunch underfoot.
This week I made my first white plait loaf.  I  understand that you're supposed to plait from the centre out to the ends by turning the tray around half way through, but I just plaited straight down from the top, like I used to do for my daughter Libby's hair.  It worked well and it was a lovely loaf both to eat and aesthetically.

While the oven was hot I popped in a fish pie which was covered in breadcrumbs made from the remaining end of my last loaf.
It was lovely especially the sauce - so tasty and yet not overwhelming the cod and prawns.  In case anyone wants to make these individual fish pies, here is my recipe.

125g of cod per individual pie              2 shell-on prawns per individual pie
Petit pois                                            Lemon
Milk                                                    Celery leaves
Parsley                                               Bay leaves
Cornflour                                            Butter
Salt and Pepper
Pour some milk into a lidded flat pan and add three bay leaves, a few sprigs of parsley/stalks and a couple of celery leaves, salt and pepper. 
Put cod, without bones, into pan and top with butter before putting on the lid.
Gently poach the fish until almost cooked and remove fish to a plate.
Slake some cornflour with milk and add to the fishy milk in the flat pan stirring continuously while it thickens and cooks through, then remove from heat.
Shell the prawns.
Place the shells, a chopped garlic clove, parsley stalks, a little milk and butter in a small saucepan and cook for a few minutes.
Pour the contents of the saucepan into a liquidiser and blitz.
Use a ladle to push the result through a sieve to remove shells and bits.
Add the sieved pink sauce into the flat pan and mix well with the white sauce.
Place a good spoonful of sauce into the bottom of each 10cm/4”ramekin.
Flake a good layer of the cod onto the sauce.
Next sprinkle petit pois into the ramekin.
Place two shelled prawns on top of the peas and sprinkle with a little lemon juice.
Spoon more sauce in until it covers the prawns.
Add another good layer of fish and sauce nearly up to the top of the ramekin.
At this stage you can place them in the fridge, clingfilmed, for breadcrumbing later in the day or tomorrow.   Remove from the fridge an hour before cooking. 
When you are ready to cook, blitz bread into crumbs to give a good final layer on the pie fillings.  Then put ramekins on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes until heated through and golden.   Salad or chips – you choose. 
I ate my first one with fresh, peppery watercress.  I picked some roots from my neighbour's, currently with all this rain, fast flowing stream and put them in my fish pond which has pumped water running through it.  

You can double click any photograph to see it enlarged.
The leaves are large and wonderful to eat with a little fresh ground salt sprinkling their leaves.
My grumpy neighbours in Cornwall had watercress growing in their stream but refused to allow me to pick it.  They were mostly away as it was a holiday home, so for ten months of the year I enjoyed fresh watercress in salads and sandwiches.
On the banks of the watercress stream there are bright clumps of brilliant white snowdrops - just lovely.
 There are catkins - fully developed now - on the young hazels bordering the little triangle of grass outside my west facing kitchen window.
In spite of the dreadful winds and rain we are experiencing so far this winter, nature is managing to carry on and bring a little beauty to the village.
Three things I like:
1.   Being able to use my washing machine again after having the water turned off for two days of plumbing repairs.
2.   Hearing from my Deerhurst-based cousin that so far, their flood defences are working.
3.   Looking forward to lunch with friends the day after tomorrow.


  1. Fish pie for tea sounds lovely, must try!