That’s tuna pasta bake in French. Everything sounds better in French. I love tuna pasta bake, or tuna casserole as I called it growing up in America, but most people tend to see it as stodgy, flavourless, and terminally uncool. I hate to imagine the tuna pasta bakes they’ve had, because for me it’s one of the tastiest, most satisfying comfort foods around.
Tuna pasta bake is based around either a béchamel sauce (milk thickened with a flour and butter roux) or a mornay sauce (béchamel with added cheese). Béchamel is one of the four “mother sauces” of classic French cuisine, and probably the easiest to make of the four. You just take equal measures of flour and butter (about a tablespoon of each per cup of milk) stir it over medium heat until it forms a paste and just BARELY starts to smell nutty and turn the palest shade of toasty brown, and then add the milk and stir like crazy until it starts to thicken. Simmer it over low heat for a few minutes until it’s as thick as you like and season with salt and black pepper. White pepper is traditional to keep it all smooth and lovely and white, but I like the black specks.
Sunday night I decided to dig up some confit pork (a recipe for another day ) from its lardy home in the back of the fridge to serve with polenta chips (one batch of your favourite savoury polenta, spread in a pan, cooled in the fridge, cut into chips, drizzled with olive oil, and pan fried on each side ‘til browned and crispy). What with all this richness and creaminess, some bite was needed. Enter the pickled cabbage, which Americans would refer to as vinegar slaw (and as far as I am concerned, a much superior product for most applications than its more popular cousin, mayonnaise coleslaw).
Breakfast time! Japanese udon noodles stir-fried with chopped ham, tabasco, sesame oil, and soy sauce, topped with a fried egg and a big pile of Korean kim-chi (a birthday present from my lovely friend Dan). I’ve covered two or three countries in this bowl, so it’s not authentic or anything, but it sure was tasty – especially after I broke the egg yolk and stirred it through (also not authentic – the fork! Sorry about that. I was just being lazy). The udon noodles, which come stir-fry ready from Taste the Orient here in Leeds, took just a couple of minutes to heat through with the sauces and ham, and the egg just took another minute, so the whole thing took about the same amount of time as your typical toast-and-egg breakfast. And it’s soooo good! Seriously, I wish you could taste it. If I wanted to take a little more time and make something more substantial for lunch or dinner, I would stir fry some vegetables in with the noodles – mushrooms, peppers, pak choi – and maybe add a little chopped ginger and garlic. Faster, easier, and tastier than takeaway.
The world might not need another food blog, but I want to write one, so here I am. On these pages you will find reviews of the restaurants, shops, markets, pubs, and bars that I encounter on my travels in the wilds of Yorkshire, as well as recipes, links, and general food-related chatter. Enjoy!