* 800g 'beau' turnips
It was only when I was halfway through the process that I realised mine were not beautiful enough - and the difference that would make to the end result ...
* 2 eggs
* 300ml milk
* pinch nutmeg
* 1 soup spoon olive oil
* 30g butter
Where to begin? Probably by saying that if you are going to try this out yourself, you have to have a picture of the end product (see above) firmly in your head. You are making little wheel-like pancakes, although I felt that small flowers (see my pictures below) were more achievable for your average cook in a rush. Even my 'flowers' didn't quite live up to the promise of the picture, and I'd put that down to two factors:
1. My turnips were not 'beau' enough. They have to be beautifully firm (not fibrous at all), so that you can cut them thinly and evenly. Mine had been waiting in the wings for much too long.
2. I didn't have one of those handy little gadgets for cutting vegetables into the thin slivers that are essential to the recipe. These beau little turnips have to be as thin as is humanly possible (easier if you are French, and have the patience for that kind of thing). I now regret laughing at the many minutely varying vegetable-cutting gadgets I found recently in a German supermarket. They certainly had what I needed there, but I was too silly to notice it. Older and wiser now.
Anyway, with the picture of the end result in your head, proceed as follows:
1. Peel the turnips, wash them, and cut them into very thin rounds. (You have been warned!)
2. Plunge them into a pan of boiling, salted water for 1-2 minutes
3. Drain the turnips and leave them to cool before handling.
4. Beat up the eggs and milk, and add the dash of nutmeg.
5. Melt the butter and olive oil in a wide frying pan at a gentle heat.
At this point my heart was pounding, because the recipe requested that I lay out my shapes outside of the pan, spiralling inwards as for a French apple tart (again, see the picture above). There was helpful mention of the personal qualities demanded ('Cela demande de la méticulosité ), which I reckon must be among the top ten recipe book understatements of this young century. I took the cowardly way out and melted my butter and olive oil in the pan, as above, then created my shapes in the pan itself.
6. When your pancake is in the pan, pour a little of the egg mixture over it, and lightly salt.
7. Cook each pancake for 4-5 mins each side.
When it came to laying out the pancakes in the pan, I tried them in two ways:
1. Firstly, as one large pancake (first two pictures). If you have a very tiny omelette or crêpe pan, this is probably the best option of all, since you can keep the pancakes you've already made warming in the oven as you make more.
2. Secondly, as smaller flower shapes (second two pictures).
Bon appétit! This has got to be judged a French classic, since it showcases to perfection the way in which the French have raised packaging and presentation to a fine art. (Just try posting your usual lumpy Christmas bundle at La Poste - the shame is beyond imagining.) I would love to hear from readers who manage to make this little treat work visually. As to the flavour - it was delicately delicious (still a turnip!) An interesting entrée, although as a main course (sadly, as a vegetarian), I'd say it would go better with roast pork , or perhaps some kind of game, than a nut cutlet. But it is also a nice variation on an omelette, so I enjoyed. It's all in the combined nutmeg/turnip flavours. A little greasy, so I suggest you reduce the oil/butter quantities given above.
Wine? I was much too tired by the time I'd finished, but the recommendation is for a Coteau-de-l'Ardèche white. The Ardèche is a département in the west of the Rhone-Alps region: Pliny called the rocky gorges along the Ardèche river 'the valley of wine'. The wines of appellation coteau-de-l'ardèche come from the south of the département, and the most successful grape varieties are Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. I like the sound of a light, citrusy Chardonnay, also 'Duet' Chardonnay-Viogner (a blend of late-ripening Chardonnay and early-ripening Viognier), said to be very fruity, blending citrus, peach and apricot scents to the nose. And, oh, how I'd loved to be described as 'supple and racy'!
Rating? *** Easy on the oil, and remember to imagine beauty in the creation!