Whenever I think of Picardy I think of the song “Roses of Picardy” and will break into song - singing the chorus only as these are the most famous of its lyrics (you will have guessed that I don’t know the rest of the lyrics!). You really wouldn’t want to hear me I assure you but it’s a lovely song all the same.
“Roses are shining in Picardy
In the hush of the silver dew
Roses are flowering in Picardy
But there's never a rose like you
And the roses will die with the summer time
And our roads may be far apart
But there's one rose that dies not in Picardy
'Tis the rose that I keep in my heart”
It’s a beautiful song written by Frederick E. Weatherley with the music written by Haydn Wood. It seems that Weatherly was a soldier of the First World War who fell in love with a French widow who protected him at her home in France.
It has been sung by many singers over the years and if you pop over to Youtube you can hear many versions of the song old and new. I must admit that my favourite are those sung in French – so romantic.
Picardie is without doubt a beautiful area of North Eastern France and with its close proximity to the English Channel and the United Kingdom is easy to get to for a wonderful break at any time of year.
The area is very much an agricultural region particularly dairy farming where you will see fat contented cows grazing in the fields along the way. From this area comes the best of butter, the thickest creams and the very best of cheeses including Maroilles and Camembert.
The countryside is also well known for fat, tasty ducks and for the famous apples farms producing cider and the apple liqueur Calvados.
The coastal area will give you everything you could wish for in the range of fish and shellfish so if you stop by anywhere along here you can be sure of getting the best of food from the local fish markets or restaurants. Also along the shores of the English Channel you will see lambs grazing on the salt marshes. These produce the unusual but delicate salt flavour of their delicious lamb.
The quality of their local foods provides us with the most wonderful French food so you can be sure of a good supply of these when you visit this beautiful region.
The market gardens of Picardy or the bortillons are famous for their vegetables and are often made into delicious soups. You will find leeks made into the most amazing gratins or the tastiest of pies and can all be washed down with the local beers. You will find strong cheeses such as the Maroilles are typical of this area.
The flavours of this region of France is of course closely linked to German and Flemish food and this can be seen with the stews and sausages, hams and famous quiche lorraine with bacon, cream and eggs.
Another famous food made with wonderful thick fresh cream for instance is Crème Chantilly which is a whipped thick cream infused with vanilla extract. Their butter too is simply divine, spread this on some crusty French bread and you will see what I mean.
So this month, for a simple recipe from the Picardy region of France I have chosen a tasty pancake filled with ham, shallots and thick cream. Very easy to make and if you don’t want to make your own batter for the pancakes you can always buy the ready-made pancakes at the supermarket.
We enjoy them with a side salad with whatever is in season for a light lunch or a supper dish but you can have them on their own and maybe enjoy two each!
Makes 6 – 8 pancakes
- 150g plain flour
- 3 eggs
- 50cl/500mls milk
- 4 slices of cooked ham
- ½ lb/250g mushrooms, peeled and chopped finely
- 1/2lb/250g shallots or onions finely chopped
- 2oz/50g butter
- 25cl /250mls double cream
- 3oz/75g grated Emmental or Gruyère cheese
Make the pancake batter by beating the eggs, flour, milk and salt together and leave half an hour.
Make your pancakes and keep them warm until you have made your filling.
Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onions or shallots until soft but not browned.
Add the chopped mushrooms and fry gently for another ten minutes.
Remove pan from heat and add two tablespoons of thick cream to the pan, mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.
Take each of your pancakes and put a slice of ham and then a tablespoon of the mushroom and onion mixture onto each one, roll up and place in a warm oven proof dish.
Put some cream over the pancakes and sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for about ten minutes in a hot oven until cheese has melted and turned a golden brown.
Your Ficelle Picardie’s are now ready to serve.