Cumin roasted and fried squash, potatoes and cannellini beans…

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Cumin roasted and fried squash, potatoes and cannellini beans...

I reckon this is a dish I could eat a lot of, and on its own. It is a mouthful to say and indeed a mouthful to eat! And a fine mouthful at that.

I had a butternut squash but wanted to experiment rather than just roast it straight. I peeled the beast, cut it into rings then halved the pieces. I then cut about 8 baby new potatoes in half.

I gurzled – new word I just made up (and I like it!) – some olive oil into a roasting tin and scattered over 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds . I popped this into a hot oven – 200c- for about 10 minutes, then added (carefully mind) the squash pieces and the potatoes. I then put the roasting tin back in the oven for around 40 minutes.

I had a loin of pork in the oven roasting satisfyingly away to itself on a bed of 4 halved long shallots and when it was ready I rescued the onions and put to one side.

Whilst the meat rested, I took out the squash and spuds and added it all to a large frying pan to which I added the shallots and a 400 gm tin of drained cannellini beans. Oh, and a little pinch of a garam masala mix. A little salt and pepper was duly ground over also and stirred gently for 5 minutes or so whilst everything got romantically aromatic.

The smell was divine. Rapturous. Roasting it first and then transferring it to finish off with the beans and shallots was a good move, if not economical on the washing up side of things!

Just for the sake of completing the circle – my main intention was after all to draw your attention to the fabulous squash dish – I added 125 gm of vegetable stock to the pork juices in the pan plus a tablespoon of crème fraîche and some black pepper.

The whole meal was one of my favourite Sunday spreads for a while.

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Poor man’s pots with lemon & thyme pork chops…

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Poor man's pots with lemon & thyme pork chops...

This is a take on the famous Spanish dish of patatas a lo pobre – it is wondrous in its simplicity yet divine in its complexity of flavours. There is little like it – I could easily eat it on its own – or it could just as easily accompany anything from lamb to fish. I ate it in Menorca last August snuggling up to a snow white slice of monkfish and it was delectable – I swear I can still taste it when I close my eyes. That version was with green peppers. This one is based on Nigel Slater’s version from ‘Eat’.

For 4

750 kg baby new potatoes – scrubbed and halved
Olive oil
A red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 red peppers – deseeded and cut into thin strips
Large red onion sliced thinly
A clove of garlic finely chopped
Pinch of smoked paprika
Large knob of butter – about 75 gm
500 gm vegetable stock
A small bunch of basil finely sliced

Heat oil in a sauté pan. Place pots in cut side down with the chilli. Leave them for about 5 or 10 minutes while you deal with the peppers. Add them to the pan, then the onion and garlic. Then the paprika.

Pop in the butter and stir until all get coated nicely.

Leave again for about 10 to 15 minutes to get the potatoes browning in that very attractive fashion they have. Have a drink.

Then pour in the stock, bring to the boil, season a little. Cover with a lid and simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes until the stock has evaporated down a lot. I took the lid off for the last five minutes and crushed most of the potatoes ever so lightly with a masher to soak up the magical juice.

Stir in the basil at the end.

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I served this alongside a loin chop pan fried slowly in a little olive oil. Half way through cooking I grated over the zest of a lemon and sprinkled lots of thyme and black pepper.

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The resulting meal was one of those I simply wanted to prolong as much as possible – the flavours were straight from heaven – a Spanish heaven in this case – somewhere possibly just outside Granada or Zaragoza.

This is the grandaddy of the versions – but you could just do it with the spuds, onions, pepper and stock with a little seasoning.

If you have never tried this I urge you to. Soon.

Very soon.

Start the week with Bubble and Squeak!

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Start the week with Bubble and Squeak!

I have come across many books that actually give you a recipe for this wonderful leftover concoction. How odd! No recipe needed – just good left overs from your Sunday lunch or from frankly any day! We had a delectable rib of beef yesterday and accompanied it with steamed pointy cabbage – I am sure no doubt it has a proper name – but pointy cabbage does the business for me – it is cabbage – and it is long, thin and…pointy! I also made a smooth, delicious marsala gravy – and of course stunning home made Yorkshire puds. So…home alone at lunch today, out came the left over cabbage and baby new potatoes – I am saving the left over beef for tomorrow.

I chopped it up and then popped a knob of unsalted butter and a gurgle of olive oil into a pan and when it was hot I added a slice of Ayrshire smoked bacon cut into strips. When it was just cooked I added the cabbage and the potatoes. I left it on a medium heat until it became all nice and sticky and  just  a  little crisp.

This is an old dish, named after the sound it makes in the pan when cooking – though mine, I have to say, produced little in the way of squeaking, more of a low purr really – and was first mentioned in a cook book as far back as 1806 by a Maria Rundell in her marvellously entitled tome:

‘A New System of Domestic Cookery: Formed Upon Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families.’

Not quite as catchy as ‘The Naked Chef’ or ‘Kitchen Diaries’ but hey….

Well, whatever, it is a winner in my book – it is buttery and warming and despite its simplicity, humbleness and lack of pedigree or finesse it is absolutely delicious. And it made me feel good.

There are times for haute cuisine… and lots of times for Bubble and Squeak!