Sixty years ago, the English writer GK Chesterton wrote, `If an Englishman has understood a Frenchman, he has understood the most foreign of foreigners. The nation that is nearest is now the furthest away.' We even choose to measure the distance between differently . . . for us it's miles . . . for them kilometers. We tend to think of them as arrogant individuals wearing berets, with ropes of garlic hanging around their necks . . . and they think of us as being rather "toffee-nosed" and "tasteless" . . . capable only of cooking a good roast beef!!
Our relationship has always been tenuous at best . . . its really a bit of a love/hate kind of thing! We noticed, on those few holidays we have spent in France, that you can get delicious cheeses from all over the world, but there are no British Cheeses. At least we have never been able to find them. The Toddster finds that very hard to take . . . a world without a good cheddar is a world that is missing something very vital!
Anyhoooo . . . I do love most French food, and I think most Brit's do. A lot of the higher class restaurants here in the UK carry French dishes on the menu . . . seriously. Love . . . hate . . .
This is a delicious salad, which one might easily find in any French Bistro . . . but, when you really look at it . . . we are not talking gourmet here. Simple ingredients, well prepared and put together with care.
For years the English did not do salad very well . . . and indeed, it can still be very difficult to find a decent salad when out and about here in the UK. I am always so disappointed when the menu in a restaurant says salad is included, and it comes and . . . . salad is a few limp lettuce leaves with a slice of tomato and a slice of cucumber on top . . . . and NO dressing. If you ask for dressing, you are given a squeeze packet of salad cream. (Salad cream has its place, but when I pay for a salad in a restaurant, I want a decent dressing.) Is it so hard to get it right???
Salads can be as diverse as the people who enjoy eating them. To some . . . that aforementioned combination might well be the salad of some people's dreams! To others . . . well . . . it's sadly lacking. Early on in our marriage when I told Todd I was making us a salad for lunch, he turned up his nose and said . . . "I don't really like salad. Salad is boring." Well . . . he had never had one of mine and now he quite likes it, I am very happy to say!
This literally means "Composed Salad." The ingredients are layered on top of each other rather than being tossed together. I love the tangy vinaigrette.
For the salad:
1 small French Baguette
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
60ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
6 rashers of streaky bacon, rind removed
150g of salad leaves (about 4 cups)
6 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thinly
4 hard boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
For the Dressing:
60ml of sherry vinegar (1/4 cup)
80ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/3 cup)
3 tsp of good quality Dijon mustard
1 tsp runny honey
fine seasalt and cracked black pepper to taste
Put all of the dressing ingredients into a jar with a screw top lid. Give it a good shake. Set aside.
Preheat the grill to high. Cut the bread into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the garlic and oil for the salad. Brush this mixture onto both sides of the bread slices. Toast under the grill until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm. (Don't let them burn!)
Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet until crisp. Place onto paper kitchen toweling to drain. Set aside.
Layer the salad leaves in top of each of 4 chilled places. Top with the bread slices, and bacon broken into chunky bits. Top with the egg and tomatoes. Give the vinaigrette another shake and drizzle some over each salad. Pass the remainder at the table.