Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Early Birds.....

Here is an updated version of Bubble and Squeak. The traditional version was always made by my mother on Boxing Day, served with cold turkey, although she used to make it using up the leftover roast potatoes mashed with the leftover Brussels sprouts (normally made with mashed potato and cabbage). The recipe below is a lot tastier, and the 'greens' could be either cabbage or sprouts. Other root veggies could be used instead of the parsnips, and no reason why some cooked potatoes couldn't also be mashed in with some parsnips instead of using all parsnips, so plenty of room for adaptation. Of course this dish doesn't have to be kept just to be served on Boxing Day, and as so often happens with me, have given it a name that might just get help children to eat the greens they profess to despise. Serves 4 as a main dish, up to 8 if serving with cold meat etc.
Boxing Day Squabbles and Beak:
1 3/4 lb (800g) parsnips, cut into chunks
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt
half Savoy (or similar) cabbage, finely shredded
quarter pint frozen peas
juice 1 small lemon (or half a large lemon)
2 oz (50g) butter
salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds (or half tsp ground cumin)
1 tsp garam masala (curry powder)
1 bunch coriander (or other chosen herb) chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Put the parsnips into a pan with the turmeric and salt, cover with cold water and boil for about 10 - 12 minutes until the parsnips are very tender.
Meanwhile, in another pan, blanch the cabbage for 3 minutes in boiling water, until this also is tender, then add the peas and boil for a further minute. Remove from heat and drain.
Drain the cooked parsnips, and put back into the warm pan with the lemon juice and HALF the butter. Mash together, adding seasoning to taste, then - setting aside the remaining butter - beat in the remaining ingredients.
Heat the reserved butter in a large non-stick frying pan, and when hot, tip in the parsnip mixture, pressing it down to make a shallow flat 'cake'. Fry over medium heat until crisp and brown on the bottom, then using a fish slice, turn the cake over to cook the other side. It doesn't matter if it breaks, in fact this seems to improve it if the mixture is kept being turned as it browns, then broken up a bit to be, then pressed back down so that it eventually gets crispy bits throughout.
To serve, slide onto a warm plate and cut into wedges.

A similar recipe to the above (in that it is a savoury 'cake' fried in a pan) can also be adapted, using other cooked root vegetables but as the basic veggie used is onion, and most of us keep these in our kitchen, along with the secondary veg: the potato, hardly any need to find a substitute. Based on a Welsh dish, this is great comfort food. Hence the name I've given it.
Conway Comfort Cake: serves 6
4 oz (100g) butter
1lb (450g) onions, sliced
pinch of salt
sprig rosemary
2.2lb (1kg) potatoes (Maris Piper or Desiree type)
salt and pepper
Put one ounce of the butter into a frying pan over medium heat, add the onions, salt and the rosemary, cover and and cook for about 20 minutes until softened, then discard the rosemary. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter in a small pan, then pour this into a bowl. Peel the potatoes and cut into wafer-thin slices (easiest way to do this is use a mandolin, the thinner the slices the better the dish will be) dropping them as cut into the bowl of butter, and turning them so they are coated. Add seasoning to taste.
Line an ovenproof frying pan (or flame-proof/oven-proof dish) with baking parchment, then layer the potatoes into the pan slightly overlapping each. Best done in ever decreasing circles as once turned out this becomes the top layer and the more attractive it looks the more appetising it will be.
Once half the potatoes have been layered, spoon over the onions, then finish by layering over the remaining slices of potato.
Set over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes to help brown the bottom. then remove to the oven and cook for a further 45 - 50 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes before inverting onto a warm serving plate. Peel away the paper and serve cut into wedges.