Trying to make the Ratatouille from Ratatouille

Comfort food. Such a strange term. Makes me think of neurotic bulimics smearing chocolate eclairs over themselves.

The scene in Disney’s Ratatouille, where Remy the rat-chef prepares the dish for Anton Ego, the blisteringly arrogant food critic brilliantly voiced by Peter O’Toole, provides a far better insight into what comfort food is.

And along the way it shows you how to make a fantastic looking ratatouille.

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Fragrant Crispy Pork Belly with Parsnip Puree

My wife showed me some pictures my youngest sister posted on Facebook last night. She and her husband (check that; her husband – my youngest sister is married. How old am I?) treated themselves to a trip to The Fat Duck, home of the food wizard-cum-scientist Heston Blooming-utter-nutter-thal or whatever his name is.

She noted that the menu took about three hours to get through, which it should do given it’s £200-a-head. The pictures of the food items looked very familiar – and they are to many foodies of course because you see them on TV – whisky jellies, snail porridge (which looked alarmingly green – I mean like fluorescent green), various foams, foggy mist-like creations and so on.

Heston Blumenthal is an interesting character – well known over here in Blightly; elsewhere I don’t know. He is the antithesis of the better known Gordon Ramsay. Where ‘G’ is a shouty, sweary cartoon-like creation, Hessie is more menacing – shaven-headed, thick rimmed spectacles, piercing stare.

But my personal preference in the celebrity cook stakes is Tom Kerridge. A man mountain, Kerridge cooks things that I can relate to – food you can find in a gastropub. Things like bacon joints braised in maple syrup, carrots cooked in loads of salt, butter and sugar…you get the idea.

But just because it’s food that you understand, and looks like something you recognise, doesn’t make it any easier to cook. Oh no. Try pork belly.

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Pork Wellington

Just spent a day Christmas shopping. Whilst lying in bed reading the news on the (crappy) Samsung tablet (why didn’t I get an i-Pad) it suddenly dawned on me that if I didn’t get off my arse and go shopping today then I wasn’t going to get another chance. And that wouldn’t do. A lot of disappointed sproglets, and don’t even get me started on the wife’s reaction.

So I went right on in to town. Battled the hoards. The squealing brats with their uncouth parents smoking fags and swearing at each other. Sulky youths trudging around. But I did it. I purchased things for about 10 people. It is done. No more! And to celebrate I created this sumptious creation – courtesy of my favourite Hairy Bikers!

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Mushroom Cobbler

I found this recipe in The Sunday Times. It’s a Marcus Wareing creation. He’s a chef who is described as a ‘perfectionist’.

In my mind that means he is incredibly scary and has no sense of humour. I suppose you can’t have a sense of humour if you are a professional chef. I mean think about them – Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc – they aren’t exactly a laugh a minute are they; in fact, even with that happy-chappy exterior, you know Jamie Oliver didn’t build a multi-million pound empire by calling everyone ‘mate’.

And now it turns out that our very own Nigella has been cooking up more than just chocolate soufflé. I personally find it hard to believe that she was whacked out of her head whilst presenting Nigellissema, but it might go some way to explaining why she has a permanent look of bliss on her face.

Anyway back to Marcus, a very serious chef who doesn’t smile. Here is his Mushroom Cobbler.

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