Saturday, 24 April 2010

Sheepish Saturdays

I live in a flat where everything, from the most basic porridge to the finest homemade four-course extravanganza, frequently but sporadically comes with a generous sprinkling of no, not love, but cat hair. Mind you, I do add a whole lot of love, too, and I love the little nipper who is sharing her hair so generously: but the split second when you realise that you have feline coiffe on your tongue, that cough that you stop immediately because it is just too eery, like coughing up a hair ball, so you swallow and feel a bit queasy and the dire need for another beverage, make it a strong one... it does make you wonder whether animals and food really go together. I never thought I'd have to contemplate this thought, given that I am a vegetarian.

The question of compatibility is less dicey in the case of animals and crime: cue Akif Pirincci's famous Felidae series with its boisterous tomcat detective (which I will resist from discussing, not least because I have not read it), and the delightful Glennkill (English title: Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story), by Leonie Swann. (Is animal sleuthing a German thing? Better not ask...).

George Glenn, shepherd in the Irish village Glennkill, is dead, cruelly stabbed through the chest with a spade. You'd think he'd see it coming, living in a place with such an unfortunate yet apt name, but he was too drunk to notice, living life on the edge (of his flock), and now his sheep face either a merger with a particular unpleasant neighbouring flock or an unmentionable trip in a lorry, ending in, um, food. There's Cloud, the woolly one; Miss Maple, the wisest of the sheep; Heather, a lamb who cannot forget what the shepherd did to her tail after she was born and is therefore not so sorry that he's dead; Othello, the black sheep; and a clover connoisseur who fancies himself a philosopher, too. The sheep decide to find the murderer: think stealthy tip-hoofing into the village, balancing on top of each other to peek through windows, and pretend-grazing to overhear conversations. This book may not be the best ever written, nor is it a classic. But it is good fun. The perfect read for a trip, whether to Ireland or not; and for meals featuring cat hair and feline company.

Feta tarte

Talking about sheep: this is my version of tarte flambee, featuring tomatoes and feta. It's like a pizza with shortcrust pastry instead of a bready base. Nom, nom.

Make a savoury shortcrust pastry out of the following ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour (all wholemeal, or mixed with some plain)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • some cold water
Chill in the fridge, and in the meantime, make a thick sauce out of
  • diced onion
  • garlic
  • a little olive oil to fry the same in
  • fresh and/or tinned tomatoes
  • pickled green pepper
...and anything else that looks good in the fridge: peppers are a good addition; mushrooms work too, though I'd add them raw rather than frying them with the onion.

Roll out the shortcrust pastry, making sure the shape of the resulting thin base represents your mood. If you feel OCD, by all means, make it round/square and smooth around the edges; but I prefer a blob similar to the woolly torso of a sheep.

Distribute the sauce on top, then sprinkle with
  • feta to your taste
Bake at medium heat (whatever that is on your oven) until the aromas waft through your kitchen and your cat starts drooling. Cat hair on top optional. Serve with a glass of red and some salad.

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Note: you may be wondering about my haphazard approach to cooking - most of the time I don't even measure, but more on that in another post. These recipes are for experienced everyday cooks who do not need to know how big the onion is to be diced, or how many grams of cheese go on top. The point is experimentation (more on alchemy in yet another post): go ahead, make onion rings instead of cubes; put mustard powder into the base; add some cat hair! This recipe is very forgiving. Guten Appetit!

1 comment:

Lorraine said...

mmm....sounds yummy!!
yes! measurements are for wusses! :P

reading this entry reminded me of my old homestay dad who made the best spinach and feta pie...wondering if you have a recipe for that? :)