Pa’s birthday lunch
by pascale smets
behind the scenes
This summer my Pa turned 90. The family gathered, as they do every summer, to celebrate in South-West France. The event was photographed for The Telegraph Magazine by the unbelievably talented and delightful Nicolas Blandin.
Included here are some of Nico’s pictures of Pa’s birthday lunch that didn’t make it into the article and some recipes there wasn’t space for.
Pineau des Charentes is a regional fortified wine which is available in red, rosé and white. I like red Pineau the best. In winter, like sherry we serve it at room temperature, but in summer it is lovely served with herb and citrus ice cubes.
Herb and Orange Peel Ice Cubes
So simple, so delicious.
I use an ice cube tray that makes cubes 5cm square because no one likes a watery drink. Use a potato peeler rather than a zester to get big flat pieces of orange peel, and put 1 piece per ice cube plus a little herby sprig. We used Savory, a herb used in Southern French cooking – harder to find in the UK, but herbs like thyme, rosemary, marjoram, lavender or borage work perfectly too (and if they are flowering even better).
A delicate green, herb mayonnaise perfect with salmon.
200ml mayonnaise, bought or home-made.
(Homemade is nicer but I often use good quality ready made mayo when I’m short of time.)
150g green herbs and leaves, a mix of spinach, watercress and parsley, ideally 50g of each.
2 tablespoon chopped tarragon
2 tablespoon chopped chervil and/or chives
Juice of a lemon
Basic mayonnaise recipe
2 egg yolks
100ml neutral oil like groundnut
100ml olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and white pepper to taste
The trick here is to go very slowly. Initially whisk the egg yolks either by hand or with an electric whisk until slightly thickened then add the oil, literally one drop at a time, each time making sure it has been thoroughly incorporated before adding the next drop. Once approximately half the oil is added you will have a thick glossy emulsion; at this point thin with the lemon juice before adding the rest of the oil in a thin steady stream whisking all the while.
The video below shows me and my sister-in-law Nan at the halfway stage.
for the ‘verte’ part
Blanch 150g of mixed leaves and herbs in boiling water until just wilted.
Remove and place in an ice bath to stop them cooking and preserve the colour.
Drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible from your wilted herb mix.
Place this mix in the food processor with the other herbs and purée to as smooth a paste as possible.
Unless you have a Nutribullet or similar you won’t get a very smooth purée, but that doesn’t matter.
Mix this through your (approximately) 200ml of mayonnaise, adjust the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
The Sauce Verte can be made in advance and is possibly better the next day when the flavours have had time to develop.
When you peel back the charred vine leaves the skin comes away too, revealing beautifully cooked flesh.
The fabulous platter is by South African ceramicist Corinne de Haas; it has clever little holes on the back so it can and hang on our kitchen wall when not in use.
The little vases are old glass yoghurt pots, the cloth is fabric on the roll, the chairs and tables were borrowed from the local Salle des Fêtes (village hall) everything else is from PASCALE Store.
LEATHER APRON XL£155.00
MANON YELLOW APRON£55.00
SABINE BLUE APRON£60.00
TURQUOISE PLATTER SMALL£25.00
GLASS JAR CANDLE£3.50
SALAHEDDIN STRAIGHT GREEN GLASS£11.00
FELICITY IRONS OVAL PLACEMAT£34.00
CORINNE DE HAAS LONG EMBOSSED PLATTER£320.00
6 CLEAR RECYCLED GLASS TUMBLERS£29.00
HOUSEHOLD HARDWARE RECYCLED GLASS CARAFE£24.00