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Friday, 12 April 2013

Food, Men and the Weekend...

By Rémi Guillot

Tartiflette is a guilty secret that should be hidden from the health police at all costs. It’s full of the best-tasting things in life: crispy bacon, fried onions, potatoes, cream and cheese. You know what that means. The dish comes with a health warning in every mouthful - naughty, but extremely nice.  In the days before refrigeration, people worked hard on the land from dawn to dusk. When you spend all your time producing food, you don’t want to let any of it go to waste, and this is a delicious way to take in calories and use up leftovers at the same time.

Tartiflette might have been designed with today’s late-night fridge-raids in mind, but as all my family have sedentary jobs I only make it on rare occasions, as a treat. I put it together from scratch, with whatever is to hand. For instance, ham sometimes stands in for the bacon. If I use it, I just add it when the onions have softened as it's already cooked. 

For four people you’ll need: 
Half a pound of bacon rashers, snipped into bits
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic, to taste.
Roughly a pound and half of cooked potatoes, sliced
Half a cup of thin cream
Grated, meltable cheese

Fry the bacon bits gently in a pan with a little oil until they start to crisp. Add the sliced onions and crushed garlic (if used), and carry on frying the mixture gently until the onions soften. Carefully fold in the potato slices - you don’t want them to break up too much. Season with salt and pepper, then  carry on cooking until the potatoes start to brown. Stir gently now and then to keep everything an even colour.
Turn the mixture into a shallow tin, and drizzle the cream over the top. Add a thin layer of grated cheese, then toast under a grill until the tartiflette is piping hot all the way through, and the cheese topping is bubbling and golden.


After driving through a plate full of that wicked temptation, it takes will power to get moving again. Here's some inspiration, in the shape of Daniel Dolan. Daniel shows what dedication and determination can do. Film of Daniel at work is included hereto show a little of what it takes. My own son saw The Nutcracker when he was five years old and from that moment on, he wanted to take ballet lessons. In those days I thought like Billy Elliot’s father, but I soon learned there’s no place for sissies in ballet, whether they are male or female. It’s really tough, but it’s character building, too. Much against my better judgment, I booked my son in for lessons a few years ago and he's taken to it like a duck (if he was a girl I’d say a cygnet) to water. It’s been the making of him, and thanks to the wonderful Miss Joy, the hours he spends crouched over his computer are balanced by shorter periods of intense but carefully guided activity. 

Many places run ballet classes for adult beginners. When I watch Son Number One doing his exercises it looks very restful, but if I try out his movements, it feels too much like a workout. It uses up loads of calories, so it’s ideal for dedicated Tartiflette fans although I think I’ll stick to running!

This weekend I’ll be working on getting my Spring newsletter together. You can sign up for it by visiting http://www.christinahollis.com, and clicking on the link. New subscribers will get my free recipe for French Bread - the perfect accompaniment for Tartiflette.