flour power….the rise and fall…

I remember buying a box of Fecule de Pomme de Terre many years ago. The very fact that I can remember this bears witness to the vagaries of an aging mind. I can’t remember if I’ve just put the kettle on downstairs but a tiny cream and green packet, bearing a name that at the time meant nothing to me, is absolutely clear in my mind….as is the little shop in Old Compton St, Roche Brothers, that, like the cream and green packet, is no longer with us. Since that day, in the 1970’s, I have used fecule de pomme de terre and other similar vegetable flours, which are wonderful thickening agents for gravy or good for making quick and simple soups in the manner of de Pomiane, on many occasions. For some reason I never used them for thickening sauces such as thick cheese sauce and always fell back on a basic roux. However, recently I have found the idea of making a sauce from a base of butter and flour to be less and less attractive: flour power has lost its charm for me and those attractive little boxes have long been relegated to the back of the cupboard.  The turning point was a cauliflower cheese which I have never particularly liked, along with macaroni cheese, because of the heavy flour based sauces. It occurred to me that warming creme fraiche in a pan, stirring good grated cheeses into the thick warm cream, pouring that mixture over the prepared cauliflower and cooking it until golden and bubbling was going to taste just fine: and it really did and does. This simple gratin of asparagus was made in an even simpler way and comes from the pages of Tender by Nigel Slater. A thick layer of seasoned creme fraiche was spooned over a pile of cooked, and still warm, asparagus spears followed by a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. The grill, without which there is no gratination, is not working in our oven so the dish was put into a hot oven until cream and cheese were both bubbling and as brown as an ill advised sun bather…with white patches.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2018, asparagus, Baking, Cheese, Cooking, Cream, creme fraiche, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, gratin, Humour, Memory, Parmesan, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to flour power….the rise and fall…

  1. jmcheney says:

    Quelle bonne idée! Crème fraiche is more appealing these days than flour. I’ll using it sine mora -while the asparagus lasts! Merci beaucoup, Roger & Nigel. Judith

  2. glad you like the plan….I couldn’t change back now:)

  3. Ardys says:

    You have just hit upon a very nice sounding option which I will try, since I can no longer eat wheat flour! Bravo!

  4. Mad Dog says:

    That looks delicious and what a great result without grils. I wish the shop was still there – I don’t think I’ll find Fecule de Pomme de Terre in i Camisa or the Algerian Coffee Shop. Perhaps French Click can be of assistance…
    No doubt this comes in handy for the ironing too!

    • Roche Bros introduced me to and made available for home cooking so many of the good things that are the bases of French cooking….unpasteurised Reblochon, big bunches of basil, proper tomatoes, excellent charcuterie…..and all without grils.

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    You paint a picture of the ageing male mind beautifully. It resonates with me and makes me smile inside.

  6. I’ll have to buy some on my next French shopping trip… Great idea

  7. Linda Duffin says:

    I am absolutely drooling here. I have enormous amounts of asparagus at the moment and I’m so nicking that Nigel Slater recipe, thanks!

  8. Very nice! We don’t have a lot of choice in veg flours over here, usually it’s just corn flour.

  9. yummy, that’s made me feel quite hungry, and it’s only just gone 10!! 🙂

  10. What a brilliant idea! I like the idea of creme fraiche. It makes the cheese float and you get that tangy flavour of the Parmesan cheese. I was never partial to cauliflower using the
    ‘old’ cheese sauce. Too thick and heavy with flour filler. Having cauliflower and other veggies, I always believed you have to taste them, not camouflage them. BRAVO to your culinary taste buds! Love it! 💖

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