As her children set up lives of their own, Trish Deseine reflects on a new home, family life and old favourite recipes …
Writing this, as the sun comes up over the waves in the middle of the Irish Sea, speeding towards France after a magical few days in Dublin, it’s easy to be filled with excitement and inspiration for the year ahead. Most people think I’m crazy to sail instead of simply hopping on a plane, but this gentle (this morning, at least!) vast In Between gives peace, and clarity, I find – along with my last Irish breakfast for a few months. Looking back at last year, more than ever life feels like a series of circles whose forms have become clearer and stronger as time goes by, like the bones of ancient villages re-emerging from weathered hills and drying lakes. Only the strongest foundations will survive the assault of time and nature, and it strikes me that mine are built from an indestructible mix of French and Irish food, love and friendship.
Between countries and houses, and after almost a month without a kitchen, I’ve spent a lot of the crossing thinking about food: the wonderful restaurants we enjoyed in Dublin (Ooh, Corrigan’s soft serve! Uno Mas’ radicchio and pomegranate salad!), the recipes I’ll be bringing to Glossy readers over the next year, the entertaining I’m hoping to do in the new home I’m moving into tomorrow, and fleshing out the bones of my new French book.
Plus ça change? Perhaps. But this year, as life starts a new circle, a huge shift in the tectonic plates of my family history is happening. Two of my boys are setting up home, one in a classic Haussmannien (with, fabulously, a spare room), in the heart of Paris, with his beautiful girlfriend, Inès, the other in bucolic bliss not far from Giverny with lovely new wife Claire, puppy Tilly and a baby on the way. And just like that, literally, the tables turn. In the blink of an eye, I’ve gone from mum to grandmum, provider to provided to, cook to cooked for, host to guest.
My elder sons are thoroughly modern men. Both are professional cooks, and know how to sweep into action in my kitchen.
To paraphrase songwriter’s Neil Finn’s excellent words, ice will melt, water will boil, it’s only natural, and don’t get me wrong, my elder sons are thoroughly modern men. Both are professional cooks, and know how to sweep into action in my kitchen. Coco, my eldest, manages it all with calm, grace and humour. Tim, son two, even built a sort of mini brick oven in my fireplace once, from old tiles found in the barn, and roasted the most delicious chicken, alongside smoky carrots and turnips cooked in the embers. They both prep, cook and, most incredibly, when I think of their adolescent selves, clear and clean to perfection when the feasting ends.
But this new stage is different, I am entering their, and their partners’, territory. Our Queen, Nigella Lawson, wrote, “Everybody likes to think cooks are nurturing, but maybe we’re just controlling, controlling what people eat”. In my children’s kitchens, I relinquish control of planning, shopping, choreography and cooking, and while I am more than conscious of not becoming the collante (sticky!) maman and belle-maman, it is quite a marvellous prospect.
There are some recipes, however, that they will always make room for me to cook in their kitchens, the ones that are inextricably linked to parties, birthdays and random, precious times we remember together. No matter how precise my instructions to my boys might be, it’s only the way I cook the food that will do. That said, I hope my new daughters-in-law will approve, and actually like these heirloom dishes they will no doubt see turning up again and again on their tables. I have such awkward memories of trying to finish plates of my beloved belle-mère’s clammy-pink roast lamb and over-garlicked white beans that the family devoured, I would never impose such well-meant torture, and will gladly hand out culinary joker cards if needs be. Give me another 20 years, and I’ll let you know how all it went. In the meantime, Happy New 2023!
PHOTOGRAPH LOUIS LAURENT GRANDADAM / LA MARTINIÈRE.
TIM’S SQUID INK RISOTTO AND SEARED SCALLOPS
10 minutes preparation
35 minutes cooking
300gr Arborio rice
150g grated parmesan
200ml dry white wine
12 fresh scallops, debearded, corals removed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 generous tsp squid ink
1 litre shellfish broth
1.In a thick-bottomed saucepan, heat three good tablespoons of olive oil and gently sauté the onion and shallot until they become translucent. Then add the rice, stir regularly until it becomes a little transparent, then add the white wine. Stir well and heat over a moderate heat.
2. Add the broth little by little while continuing to stir, pouring a little in each time the rice absorbs it. Halfway through cooking (after about 10 minutes), add half of the grated parmesan which will thicken the mixture. Continue to mix while gradually adding the rest of the broth and parmesan. After 20 minutes you should have a beautifully creamy mixture. Add the squid ink and stir it through. Season with pepper and a little salt. Keep warm.
3. Heat a teaspoon or so of butter in a frying pan and sear the pre-washed scallops for two minutes on each side until crisp and golden. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the risotto.
COCO’S AROMATIC BROTH WITH GINGER, LEMONGRASS, COCONUT MILK, MUSHROOMS AND STAR ANISE
5 minutes preparation
15 minutes cooking
500ml vegetable stock (fresh if you have it, or made with your usual stockpot or tablet)
1 clove garlic, peeled, halved
1 stalk lemongrass – about 10cm
1 star anise
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, grated or finely chopped
A small handful fresh coriander, leaves separated from the stems
1 carrot, peeled, cut into thin rounds
2 or 3 white mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
400g coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp chilli purée or 1/2 small red chilli
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil with the lemongrass, garlic, coriander stems, star anise and ginger. Simmer for two to three minutes over low heat.
2. Add the carrot slices and cook for 5 minutes before adding the mushroom slices and simmer for another 5 minutes.
3. Pour the coconut milk, chilli and stir, season with soy sauce and lemon juice and serve the soup garnished with coriander leaves.
Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest fashion, beauty, interiors and entertaining news from THE GLOSS MAGAZINE’s daily dispatches.