At school today a friend of mine told me they had seen a couple of swallows not far from me near Wavre. I’m dead jealous, I’ve been looking out for them over the Dijle for a couple of weeks.
Although not yet a summer, finally there is a different feel to the air. There was rain, for example. I’d forgotten what rain was like. Snow, yes. Sleet, yes. Damp muggy fog, yes. But not rain. It was like a foreign substance, for a while, and I was moved to take the covers off my potatoes and to start checking each day for signs of Broad Beans. The Jerusalem Artichokes have also gone in. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve grown them, the last time was in Spalding. The tubers I get here are much less knobbly and easier to peel and I hope for a good crop. They’ve taken the place of the runner beans, providing a living and fruitful screen for the woodstack. ‘Jerusalem’ apparently is a corruption of girasol (‘turn to sun’ or sunflower in Spanish) and in a long, hot summer (yeh right) they will even flower.
Easter was too early for new season lamb and I wait for not only that but also Jersey Royals and Asparagus. I’m not a fan of ‘continental’ white asparagus and refuse to eat any from Peru but as with Strawberries, choose to wait for them to come into season here in Northern Europe. Kentish Asparagus, Jersey Royals and of course, Wepion Strawberries. These are the signs that Spring is in full swing.
It’s all this anticipation which leaves me a bit flat when thinking about what to eat. What I want to eat isn’t available, yet. I need something to carry me over, a bridging meal. Something which promises warmer weather but will keep me going during the cool evenings. Something simple.
Onion and Apple Pie (Cornish)
I don’t want to give quantities here, but 3 apples and medium-large onions should be a good start. Peel, core and thinly slice the apple. Peel and ring-slice the onions thinly too. Oven needs to be hot, 200°C.
It’s like a Cornish Dauphinoise, in a pie!
Line a pie-tin with shortcrust pastry. Put in a layer of apple rings and cover with a layer of onion rings, finely chopped sage, pepper, salt, and a pinch of mixed spice.
Keep alternating until apple and onion are used up. I like to add some bits of Cornish Yarg (the ‘wrapped in garlic leaves’ one) as I go too. Put good-sized bits of butter over the top (or clotted cream) and cover with a thin crust.
Bake, brushing with egg first if you like. Eat hot. You probably don’t need any accompaniment. Green salad? Watercress? Nah.