Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Glenda Bannington-Blythe's Sauté Potatoes with Thyme and Garlic (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

(If you haven't had the good fortune to meet Glenda before now, you might want to do a little background reading to bring you up to speed)

‘The thing is,’ rasped Roger as he reached out towards the willing, nubile Blonde, ‘No-one ever needs to know. It will be our dirty, filthy, torrid little secret’. The blonde giggled and fixed him with adoring eyes,

‘Oh Roger’ she breathed, ‘you are soo gorgeous and rich with such a big…’

ROGER! Roger! Why are you pawing at me? I asked you a question’.

Roger jerked awake from his afternoon nap in the hammock. He pushed up his boater and blinked at his wife Glenda.

‘What’s that?’ he snorted, ‘What? Did I say anything? Did I touch you?’ he added, guiltily.

‘No, well, you were muttering something about secrets and trying to grab me, another of your little fantasies was it dear?’

Glenda’s eyes were cold and her smile frosty, in contrast to the warmth of the bright summer afternoon. Roger chose not to answer and shifted a little in the hammock.

‘Well what is it woman? What do you mean by waking me?’ He eyed his wife with distaste. He could tell she had been doing menial work again for she wore a gardening apron with garden tools stuffed in the pockets. Why did she persist in doing the Gardener’s job? It was such a lack of breeding. Mummy had been right, he really was too good for her…

Glenda clicked her tongue impatiently,

‘Well, I’ve just had Adolphus Boswell on the phone, blathering about coming for apéritifs this evening with his new bit of Russian fluff, did you invite them?’

Roger frowned, still trying to dispel the image of his Blonde. Had he invited Addy? Oh yes, he’d invited Addy and his Russian girlfriend… Anya was it? He’d lucked out there, although of course she was only after him for Indefinite Leave to Remain, but still, good luck to Addy, the dirty old dog.

‘Ah yes, I did darling, didn’t I tell you? I think it was just an informal thing, you know, bit of champagne, maybe some Pimms, light finger food, that kind of thing, get Cook to do it. God knows we pay her enough, tell her to put her fat old backside into it’
He harrumphed and picked up the book lying in the grass by the hammock.

Glenda snatched up the book and hurled it into the lobelias, barely able to contain her venom,

‘The thing is dahling,’ she hissed, ‘it is August, and I’ve given Cook the afternoon off. There is no-one here to make some light bloody finger food except me, oh and of course, you!’ the snort of derision spoke volumes.

‘And furthermore, Adolphus informed me that Tanya is picky! Can’t eat gluten! Can’t eat eggs, or milk or nuts! She’s Russian for god’s sake, didn’t they spend years queuing for bread and starving under Stalin? You’d think she’d eat anything she can get her hands on! Fussy bloody Foreigner…’ and Glenda stomped off in the direction of the kitchen.

‘It’s Anya! Not Tanya! Seemed rather nice as I remember...’ called Roger, then ducked as a well-aimed pair of secateurs narrowly missed his head.

Glenda reached the kitchen and gently placed her forehead onto the cool granite work surface. She fingered the garden knife in her apron pocket and for a second imagined piercing Roger’s bloated belly with it. What a waste of a life this is, she thought, then jumped as she heard someone enter the kitchen.

‘Meesis! Hoh my Gohd! Meesis you is illness? I call ze doctorr?'
Rosa bounded across the kitchen and wrenched Glenda’s head off the granite, her troubled eyes scanning her employer’s face. ‘I call a ze doctorr?’

Glenda broke away from Rosa,
‘That’s enough Rosa! Calm down! You are sweet to worry, but really I’m fine, just a little fatigued’

Rosa’s eyes widened in delight, her hand flew to her mouth,

‘Oh Meesis! You a little fattee? You getting a tummy? You expecta da baby? Oh Meesis! Is good news! I thinka many time a baby woulda be a good in a da house!’ she beamed.

‘Pardon? Expecting a baby, wha..?’ Glenda was flummoxed, replaying the words in her mind, what on earth had Rosa misunderstood this time?

‘Oh I see Rosa, no, not ‘fattee’, ‘fatigued’, it means tired’.

Rosa nodded, concentrating,

Yes Mees, is becoz of da baby no? It make you very many tired’.

Glenda bit hard on her lip,

‘Rosa, I need some help…what’s that you’re carrying?’

‘Zees? Is ‘erb from ze ‘erb garden. In a Espain we call eet ‘tomillo’. My Mama she hot cook ze patatoes, den a she fry wiz ajo, in engleesh, is garlick, no?'.

Glenda nodded, smiling at this unexpected answer to her dilemma.

‘Well that sounds perfectly lovely Rosa, I would very much like to try your Mama’s, er Mother's dish. Please be so good as to make enough for four and have it ready by 7pm, do you understand?’

‘Yes Mees! I make it very good like my Mama! I make extra for you and da baby, you musta eat a very good!’

Glenda shook her head in amusement and headed for the cellar to find champagne.

‘I think we’ll drink vintage tonight’ she thought to herself, ‘I deserve it for the short notice and the special dietary requirements. Can’t eat gluten indeed!’

And shaking her head she descended into the cool, musty dark of the cellar.

Glenda Bannington-Blythe's Sauté Potatoes with Thyme and Garlic

Well! Who would have thought Glenda would be so intolerant of food allergies? I had her down as quite a pleasant person, but clearly she’s under a lot of strain being married to that pig of a man. We’ll have to cut her some slack this time I think. Anyway, the potato dish is tasty, a cinch to rustle up in a hurry, and although clearly not haute cuisine, will get you out of a hole when those unexpected guests descend on you. Serve as a nibbly dish with some chilled (vintage) champagne if you wish, or a light Prosecco if you’re feeling the pinch.

1-2kg potatoes depending on how many guests (more if you're cooking for a family of 6)

3 cloves of garlic and extra for garnish

a good handful of fresh thyme and extra for garnish

Olive oil to fry

Salt and black pepper

  • Set a large pan of salted water to boil, then peel and chop the potatoes into medium sized cubes

  • When the water is boiling, put the cubes in and leave to bubble for about 5 minutes, you want them firm, not soft

  • Drain the potatoes and leave them to steam for a minute or two. Cover the base of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil and let it heat over a medium heat

  • Carefully place the potatoes into the oil, stir briefly with a spatula, then leave them whilst you

  • Finely chop the garlic and fresh thyme (fresh really is best if you can get it, my sweet sister-in-law gave me some to grown in my garden, I'm so like Glenda really), reserving a little for the garnish

  • Grind some salt and black pepper over the sizzling potatoes, then turn them with a spatula, they probably won't even be golden yet, not to worry

  • Sprinkle the garlic and thyme over the potatoes, and leave for another 4 minutes or so

  • Now the game is to keep turning the potatoes every so often, but not too often or they will go mushy. You do have to leave them be so they can do their golden thing, this could take about 15 minutes (or perhaps more)

  • When the pots are done, place them into a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining garlic and thyme

  • Serve to the beastly Adolphus and his surgically enhanced Tanya, grind your teeth and heal your pain with vintage champagne. It works for me.

© Pig in the Kitchen 2009

Now this isn't really a main course is it? Perhaps a little light for a starter, but might do for a quick lunch? Shall we start a whole new category on my sidebar? Shall we call it, 'Lunch ideas and Assorted Sumptuous Stuff?' Oh I like that, good idea.