Miss Galindo’s Canape

I love the concept of the canape. All the fla­vours of an entire plate­ful, heaped extra­vag­antly into one per­fect mouth­ful. But I’ve just dis­covered some­thing I love as much as the canape, and that’s the deriv­a­tion of the word. Canape was coined in 18th cen­tury France and means ‘sofa’ — a wel­com­ing, capa­cious, invit­ing seat on which to place a host of con­vivial part­ners. The per­fect descrip­tion of the best kind of canape, in other words. I haven’t enjoyed a word so much since I dis­covered ses­qui­ped­alian — a very long word which means a very long word.

Idle thoughts about sofas took me to Eliza­beth Gaskell, the Vic­torian nov­el­ist and bio­grapher of Char­lotte Bronte. In 1859 Mrs Gaskell com­bined a group of stor­ies under the col­lect­ive title Round the Sofa. Char­ac­ters gather around the sofa of Mrs. Dawson to hear her account of Lady Lud­low. The sub­sequent story of the Count­ess, her feck­less son Lord Sep­timus and her loyal com­pan­ion Miss Galindo became one of the most com­pel­ling strands of the bril­liant BBC tele­vi­sion adapt­a­tion of Mrs Gaskell’s work, Cran­ford.

This is the canape I’ve devised in hon­our of Miss Galindo, the spin­ster daugh­ter of a Bar­onet. In Mrs Gaskell’s story she struggles uncom­plain­ingly to sup­port her­self and I figured it was time she was treated to a little lux­ury. So in trib­ute to the vali­ant Miss Galindo, here’s an edible sofa to enjoy while sit­ting on a sofa, read­ing Round the Sofa.

CANAPES OF SCALLOPS ON A JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE CRISP WITH ARTICHOKE PUREE AND PANCETTA

  • 500 g Jer­u­s­alem artichokes, scrubbed but unpeeled
  • 200 g fresh scallops
  • A little lemon juice
  • 1 large knob butter
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 200 ml ground­nut oil
  • Season­ing
  • A few fresh thyme leaves
  • Around 6 slices pancetta

Reserve one large, evenly shaped artichoke — put the oth­ers to one side to use for the puree. Slice the reserved artichoke very finely with a man­dolin. As you slice, place the pieces in a bowl of water which has been acid­u­lated with lemon juice. The lemon will stop the artichoke from discolouring.

Dry the artichoke slices. Heat the ground­nut oil in a pan until very hot — it should be about 1.5 cm deep. Test the tem­per­at­ure by put­ting a cube of bread into the oil and check­ing that it fries crisply. Lower the artichoke slices care­fully into the oil for around two minutes until crisp and brown. Remove from the oil and place them on kit­chen paper while you pre­pare the other ingredi­ents. (The crisps are deli­cious on their own, with a little sea salt, but you want to end up with enough crisps to part­ner the scal­lops, so count carefully.)

Bring the remain­ing artichokes to a sim­mer in a pan of salted water and cook until soft.
Puree the cooked artichokes, along with the but­ter and cream. Sea­son to taste and keep warm.

Fry the pan­cetta until crisp and remove from pan. Using the same pan, add a little olive oil and fry the scal­lops for a couple of minutes each side, until golden. Don’t over­cook them or they will become tough.

Assemble your sofas by heap­ing a tea­spoon of puree on a crisp, pla­cing a gen­er­ous shard of pan­cetta on top and crown­ing with a thyme-topped scal­lop. Squeeze a few drops of lemon over the scal­lops if so inclined. Eat imme­di­ately — no-one likes a soggy sofa.

Bed Socks, Gold Shoes and Pancetta Salad

If you were to stop by my house at around 6 o’clock each morn­ing, you’d regret it. I’ve per­fec­ted an effi­cient but hideous early-morning out­fit to take my daft span­iel for a walk. Pyja­mas, dress­ing gown, woolly scarf, gloves, bed socks and my teen­age son’s giant-sized school shoes (the only foot­wear large enough to accom­mod­ate the super-thick red socks). They’re the kind of leather mon­stros­it­ies that Pippi Long­stock­ing would have worn — ‘black shoes that were exactly twice the length of her feet.’

Clearly this is an out­fit I try to avoid being seen in. But just in case you’ve ever spot­ted me in those coal-skuttle shoes, can I just point out that these are the shoes I’d rather be known for.….

I had friends to sup­per last night all of whom have, for one reason or another, had a miser­able week. I’m a great believer that in these cir­cum­stances, good food, good com­pany and good shoes can some­times help. We dressed up to the nines and although the food was frugal every­one felt bet­ter by pudding.

We ate pan­cetta and chest­nuts — one of those recipes that looks and tastes as though it took more time and trouble than it did — always a good thing. But it has one spe­cial ingredi­ent that involves a trip to Ikea — often not a good thing at all, unless you’re in the mood.

Pan­cetta and Chest­nuts With Pea Shoots and Herbs

Serves 6

350g cooked chestnuts

250g thinly sliced pancetta

Soft salad leaves such as pea shoots, rocket, lamb’s lettuce and herbs — noth­ing that’s frilly or rasps the throat

2 table­spoons gravlax­sas, the sweet mus­tard and dill sauce that accom­pan­ies gravad­lax and can be bought from Ikea. I know that sounds a little odd, so if you don’t trust me or if you can’t or won’t go to Ikea, you can make it your­self by whisk­ing together 2 table­spoons of Dijon mus­tard, 1 table­spoon caster sugar, 1 table­spoon white wine vin­egar and 1 egg yolk. Drip 150ml of ground­nut oil into the mix­ture to form an emul­sion and then add 1 table­spoon of chopped dill and some seasoning.

4 table­spoons olive oil

2 table­spoons best bal­samic vinegar

Squeeze of lemon juice and a little lemon zest

Season­ing

Break up the chest­nuts and fry them in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes until sizz­ling. Stir in the gravlax­sas and put to one side. Add the pan­cetta to the pan and fry until crisp. Again put to one side. Dress the leaves in olive oil, bal­samic, lemon juice and a little zest. Sea­son the leaves and then tip the pan­cetta and chest­nuts over the top. Serve warm with a loaf of good sour­dough bread.

When I first joined the BBC I was shocked to dis­cover that TV news-readers wore posh jack­ets and ties above the desk but jeans below. In an inver­sion of news-reader style, we ate our pan­cetta and chest­nuts with thick coats above the table (my boiler is up the creek yet again) and, in my case, a frothy net skirt and the divine gold shoes underneath.