This weekend we went to London, so that I could attend a day-long work meeting and Simon could meet some friends. The good part was we got to stay with my brother, Stuart, and his wife, Lisa, and their menagerie - by which I mean a dog and a cat. Their personalities are dramatically different (the dog as opposed to the cat, not Stu and Lisa): the cat is like a very cool teenage girl, who expects to be waited on and betrays little sign of neediness, whilst the dog - a cocker spaniel - is like an eager toddler, thirsting for human attention. I'm not an animal person (and that is an understatement) but I have a particular soft spot for that little dog. She sits and gazes imploring at you while you eat, beseeching you to hand some food over to her; she likes to have her tummy tickled. I've asked Stu to send me a photo of the animals so that they can make a guest blog appearance; I don't know if he will oblige. Anyway, animals aside, it was a good trip; the trains were a bit late both ways, and pretty late on the return leg of the journey, but it was nice to see my brother and sister-in-law and I managed to read two novels on the train (one each way): School's Out by Christophe Dufosse and The Girls by Lori Lansens, both of which are compelling in completely different ways. The former is a sort of French answer to Donna Tartt's The Secret History; it is menacing and intelligent and suspenseful, with the usual dose of French weirdness. The latter I expected to hate, but didn't, because the girls of the title - craniopagus twins, which means joined at the head - are portrayed very convincingly.
I realize I am off-topic, but then that isn't anything new. Yesterday I was too tired to embark on the usual Sunday marathon bake session but I did want to try something new for lunch - hence the warm salad with crispy bacon and Jerusalem artichokes (I am a fan of Jerusalem artichokes. I know many people are not). I like warm salads - they manage to make you feel you're eating healthily (the green parts) but they aren't rabbit food either; they are substantial enough to keep you going. This salad involved scrubbing the artichokes and boiling them until tender; then cooling, halving and setting them aside. Meanwhile I washed and sliced radicchio and little gem lettuce and placed in a bowl with chopped flat-leaf parsley. I sliced the bacon and fried it in a little olive oil, adding the arichokes and sliced red onion when the bacon was golden, and continuing until the artichokes were crispy. I then divided half that pan between our plates, before adding balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the pan, mixing, and tossing the pan's contents over the salad leaves in the bowl, before transferring it all to the plates.
The salad was delicious, in the way that warm salads with bacon inevitably are; calling it a salad is probably a bit of a con, since it seems somewhere between salad and fry-up, but that has to be a good thing. Jamie suggests varying it with sausage instead of bacon - I can imagine it working well with garlicky Toulouse sausages and new potatoes replacing the artichokes. I might feel compelled to experiment.