Saturday, May 12, 2007

Empire strikes back

The war between imperial and metric forces has ended in a ..... victory? ..... triumph? ..... lowkey compromise. There will be no more prosecutions of market stallholders for selling potatoes in pounds (imperial) instead of kilos. Wow, that was thousands of pounds (sterling) well spent on legal proceedings. The stallholders feel vindicated and the bureaucrats fell justified. That's Europeanism at its best.

Now that I don't risk being locked in the Bastille, I will admit that I have always used imperial weights in my kitchen. It can actually be quite tedious because most ingredients come in metric packaging and new cookery books use metric measures, which I have to convert into lbs and ozes. I don't have anything against metric measures but I love my old scales and I haven't found any brass metric weights to use with them. As I'm being truthful, I have to admit that the American cup system is far more sensible.

Here's my favourite French Onion Tart recipe converted into imperial measures (there is something extremely gratifying about defying the French!):

For the pastry:
4oz butter
8oz flour
pinch of salt
iced water

For the filling:
2lbs onions
2oz butter
1 tbsp oil (olive or sunflower)
3 egg yolks
8 fluid ounces double cream
2oz gruyere cheese, grated

Rub the butter into the flour. Mix with enough iced water to make a soft dough and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Roll out the pastry to fit a 9 inch tart tin, place greasproof paper over the pastry and fill with dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes in Aga baking oven (200 celsius, 390 farhenheit), remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Heat the oil and butter and gently cook finely sliced onions until soft. Beat egg yolks with the cream, combine with the onions and grated cheese and pour mixture into pastry case. Grate nutmeg over the top..

Bake for 30 minutes (same temperature as above), until mixture is golden brown.

Serve with green salad and a wry smile at the 'goings on' in Brussels.

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