Long before the influence of Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, Sherlock or made-for-BBC movies, I fell hard for all things British. And the credit goes entirely to my high school AP English teacher. Outside the classroom she was a soft-spoken, conservative school teacher that hardly stood out from the crowd. But in her small room, full of wooden desks and shelves stuffed with classics, she was a vibrant, passionate storyteller who brought life to all of the stories she taught.
She painted a perfect picture of the pastoral English countryside, spotted with antiquated manors and stone cottages. She threw us headfirst into the dark, soggy, smoke-filled London of the Industrial age. She whispered the scandalous secrets told in the halls of the royals; affairs, treason and tragedy. She took us on a journey through the worlds of Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens and every month I stood in front of the class and gave my book report on one of the authors she had introduced us to. And unlike many of my classmates, I had not only read, but devoured my monthly reading assignment.
Perhaps her influence explains my preference for books, films and plays set in the United Kingdom. Or my pure glee when a week or two of soggy weather sets in. It certainly explains my choice of college major. And definitely my affinity for Alys Fowler and The Delicious Miss Dahl.
But I think the thing I love most about her leading me to fountain of all things Anglican, is the special place that British-inspired food has taken in my heart. Living in a similarly sodden landscape here in Oregon, the wealth of English comfort food recipes I’ve discovered is absolutely delightful.
My favorite as of late is the soul soothing Bubble & Squeak. Root vegetables are just about all we have left at this point in the year, and surely we’ve all exhausted every which way we know how to cook them. These cakes are a fresh way to get those veggies, while adding in a little extra warmth and coziness. I omitted the gravy since we are trying to eat a bit lighter these days, but the gorgeous, runny egg yolk from a farm egg or two, more than picked up the slack. Eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, these cakes were a bright spot in a dreary week, and I can see these becoming a regular winter staple on the Martin table.
For Bubble & Squeak straight from the source, here is Miss Sophie doing her thing. Gravy and all. I just love her, despite her perfectly abysmal knife skills.
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
- 1 yukon gold potato, peeled, chopped
- 1 celery root, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 Savoy cabbage, sliced
- Handful kale, sliced
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 farm eggs
- handful of parsley, chopped
- For the bubble and squeak cakes, place the carrots, parsnip, potato and celery root in a large pan of salted boiling water, and cook until very soft, about 20-25 minutes. Drain, and return to the pan.
- Roughly mash the vegetables together..
- Heat half the butter in a frying pan and soften the leek for 4-5 minutes. Add the kale and cabbage and saute until just warmed. Mix into the mashed vegetables and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Divide the mixture into 4, and shape into patties with your hands. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
- Once patties are cold, heat 1 Tbsp butter and olive oil in a saute pan. Cook cakes until golden and crispy, then flip. Don’t worry about getting them hot in the middle, once they are crisp on each side, line them all up on a sheet tray and keep them in the oven at 350.
- While the cakes are warming, cook farms eggs, over easy, seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve cakes with eggs and chopped parsley on top.
*Beautiful farm-fresh eggs from my new friends at Working Hands Farm. Thanks guys!