Paris, Second World War, and Music

A week in Paris by Rachel Hore due for publication October 2014

A slow burning but sure book that hooks you into finding out what happened next to the characters. Based on the type of events that really happened during the second world war, the story of the child and her parents and Paris really keep you waiting to hear the next part of the story.
I liked the idea of the music link-ups and really felt so sorry for all the trouble that the child went through and was astonished how balanced she ended up being, especially hearing about her ‘escapades’ during her escape from Paris and journey home to the UK.
Without giving the story away, there are two or more gentle love stories interwoven through time and Paris with the reality of life in the second world war told in a compassionate but accurate manner – no frills but truth.

Delicious was verdict of all!

Vegetarian Paneer Recipe:

This is my own variant on the traditional paneer and spinach dish that is so common in India and available as a side dish in many Indian eating places as Saag Paneer.

I have made it now twice for our garden group pot-luck dinners and each time people loved it, and in fact a certain husband ate 3 large bowls of it  on Monday night! I tend to vary the recipe slightly each time I make it, depending on what is in my fridge/freezer and also what seeds I have in stock but this is close enough to what makes it good…. I have given quantities for 2, so just multiply up if you have more to feed. Note fresh spinach and tomatoes make a great difference to this dish – never use tinned and frozen only in an emergency!

Paneer recipes: Variants depending on your taste!

For 2 people:

120g Paneer cubed.

Red pepper eg Romano as this is sweetest, sliced.

Gd bunch of fresh spinach chopped.

Handful of chopped fresh coriander.

Either tinned tomatoes chopped, fresh tomatoes chopped approx 1Lb, or tom puree

2 tsp chilli oil or 1 small fresh chilli finely chopped – adjust to heat required, red or green, and size or amount;

Veg stock as needed during cooking.

2 tsp korma paste.

2 tsp onion base (Waitrose make this) or small red onion.

2 tsp coconut, lemongrass and ginger base (Waga Mama make this) or 1” fresh ginger sliced thinly (I find that using it from the freezer makes it easier to peel and then slice thinly).

1 clove of garlic finely chopped.

1 tsp dried coriander.

1 tsp dried cumin.

.5 tsp nigella seeds (black onion).

.5 tsp turmeric.

1 tsp garam masala.

Black pepper as liked.

Rapeseed oil – organic is best, especially 1st pressing. 1-2 dsp. Note the difference in taste this gives.

 

Optional additions: (choose one!)

Tomato puree or passata if want more tomato depth.

1 stick celery finely chopped.

Swap spinach for bunch swiss chard

Add apple if like sweet taste

.5 tsp cinnamon

Small handful curry leaves

.5 tsp fennel seeds

.5 tsp of any seed combination that an Indian shop offers eg mango powder or…

 

Side dish:

Plain greek yoghurt with some mint sauce stirred through.

Basmati rice or naan

 

Method:

  1. Heat large pot. Add oil and heat a little more. Fry onion for approx 3-4 mins whilst chopping pepper etc, add pepper, celery, apple if using. Add chopped fresh tomatoes. Add chilli, ginger and garlic. Keep stirring and fry each addition for around 2 mins. The mix should begin to soften and the onion to become golden.
  2. Add any bases if using.
  3. Add paneer and fry 4-5 mins until paneer begins to colour.
  4. Add seeds, korma paste, and any other flavouring. Fry 1-2 mins stirring to ensure that paneer is well covered.
  5. Add stock, or tinned tomatoes, or passata plus water.
  6. Leave to cook approx 20 mins checking every 10 to ensure that there is enough water. Check that fresh tomatoes are well softened.
  7. Add spinach and cook 5 mins. Stirring through sauce.
  8. Add fresh coriander after turning off the heat and stir through.

 

Serve with rice etc.

The yoghurt may be necessary if you have made it too hot.

Cobbles and Fountains

We stayed in La Palma’s old town of Santa Cruz de La Palma. LA Palma street with cobbles This is a mostly car-free, narrow alleyed, cobble streeted, wooden housed and balconied Spanish style town. Cobbles seem to be no object for the stiletto heeled locals! That said, I did find the local fashions rather stilted and overly fussy – over smart or over sparkled and over loud in many cases. I confess I did attempt to go shopping but was surprised by how little in the way of clothing I could find to buy!

Now jewellery was somewhat of a different matter, although again many styles were over large and over ornate. Still the pearls are always tempting as is the green volcanic rock they call olivine, but also known by the trade as peridot in some cases it appears. When polished up to a glitter with facets it is a lovely colour.

Due to Spanish regulations there are no hotels in this particular town but we hear that a boutique hotel is due to open shortly.

So we had to stay in an apartment hosted by a charming German women called La Fuente (means Fountains or Sources). Sure enough there was a tinkling fountain in front of the hotel. La fuente was a traditional old Spanish style house that had been added and re-worked over several years and now rose up 6 stories to a roof top terrace if you could climb the stairs with a grand view of the town and  the rooftops.

rooftops

It had a number of major advantages:

  • It is only an alleyway distance from the seafront ;
  • It is on a major pedestrianised street;
  • And if you are lucky, the apartment has a window seat and window onto this street. This gave us a wonderful view of the Easter Parades – more of them later.
  • But don’t expect to be able to do much cooking – just 2 rings and very little in the way of crockery and pans etc.. but
  • There are lots of eateries all down the street and you are opposite a good pizza place.

La Palma also had an interesting artifact in the middle of town – a replica Spanish ship. Not quite sure of the reasons for this, but it was very attractive especially at night when lit up.

Overall, this is a very pleasant tourist town with coloured buildings all attractively painted with the trim picked out in contrast colours and squares and churches and…. not forgetting that the mountains (well volcanoes) press right up against the edge of town ad a collapsed mountain is just at the very edge (a caldera) and the sea is there too.P1010415 P1010416 P1010394 P1010376 P1010375 views of Santa Cruz de La Palma

night view