As the weather begins to turn here in England, I find myself craving for really hearty, comforting, food for the soul. The kind of food you smile at or smile thinking of. The kind of food your fork lingers over. Most importantly the kind of food you finish then curl up onto the couch and sleep a blissful sleep…
For now I’d like to share three examples of the kind of food that makes me just simply happy…
- Chorizo Fried Eggs on Ciabatta
- Classic Fish & Chips with Mushy Peas
- Steak Au Poivre with Pommes Darphin
Let’s get right to it, shall we? As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite weekend pastimes is to cuddle up with Chris and watch BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen. Just a couple weeks ago, we watched the well known British chef Sat Bains (who runs Nottingham’s only Michelin-starred restaurant “Restaurant Sat Bains”) whip up one of his family’s favorite brunch dishes – Chorizo Eggs with Scallops and Coriander Salt. As neither of us had had breakfast yet, Chris got inspired to run out to the store and make us breakfast. He came back and did a wonderful job of whipping up this incredibly satisfying breakfast below. It’s incredibly simple but made even better with high quality sausage and high quality bread. Any spicy sausage would really do. For the bread, Chris nipped to our local Italian delicatessen (Filippettos) for some ciabatta. Believe it or not this little delicatessen is perfect. The owner is actually Italian and many of his products are imported directly from Italy (with the packaging written in Italian only!). If you’re ever around, you must have some of their ice cream… But more importantly they have a wide variety of cured/smoked meats and fresh bread.
As you can see Chris added his own little addition of mushrooms sautéed in butter… I think any egg-lover will agree with me when I say there’s something SO satisfying about breaking a perfectly runny yolk. The gooey liquid spills out everywhere and drips off your bite of egg, spicy/smoky chorizo, buttery mushroom and crispy but light toasted ciabatta. And that’s when I look over at Chris and remember why I love him :-) Because he knows exactly how to make me happy!
Now I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it before. I swear I must have but in my half-attempted search I couldn’t find any previous posts about it. But the next food that is such an English classic is fish & chips with mushy peas. First let’s talk fish. Now I obviously don’t pretend to be a connoisseur on fried fish. I also think it’s fair to say that everyone has their different preferences – from type of fish to skin on or off to light or thick batter and so on. For some fried fish must never taste like actual fish and for others fried fish only ever comes from the frozen food section. In my very first blog post, I talked about my fried fish experiences in New Orleans which is an entirely different experience all together since they often use corn meal instead of flour. I’ve had my fair share of fried fish before I met Chris, but I must say – you really shouldn’t mess with a classic. Leave it to the Brits to do it so right – or as they say ‘properly’.
I used to hate skin on my fish – cooked any which way. But I don’t mind so much anymore. When the fish is fresh (I like cod or haddock) and that batter is light and just so crispy, you’ll actually convince yourself that what you are eating is good for you. I mean, forget the deep frying, you’re eating your omegas! You get your necessary starch from the potatoes and your vegetable in the form of peas. Well rounded! I sound like Chris now…
Before I go off and write a whole post about the important factors of the perfect fish and chips, I want to get back to the mushy peas. The funny thing is I have never seen peas cooked like this in the States before. Basically it’s dried peas that are soaked overnight and cooked with some salt and sugar and possibly some mint. It kind of reminds me of when my mom would make split pea soup after Thanksgiving with the leftover ham. For some reason not many Brits actually like mushy peas. Of Chris’ family, friends and former work colleagues, Chris’ dad and I are the only ones I know who love them! There’s something about having a bite of crispy fish with cool tartare sauce and warm mushy peas… Mmmmmm. Okay I have to stop looking at this photo. It’s making me sad that I can’t have any right this minute..
But before I move on – interesting fact from this Times article on the history of fish and chips. Apparently it’s a theory that fish and chips originated in East London where
the close confines of the tenements meant the fried-fish tradition of Jewish immigrants would have come into contact with the potato-based diet of the Irish
Right – I wanted to end with this because I’m quite proud of how perfectly I cooked this dish. As you all know, I can be quite carnivorous. And since I’ve just finished a course at FRENCH culinary school, it is appropriate I share a bit of steak au poivre with pommes darphin. Otherwise known as pepper steak, steak au poivre is one of those incredibly rich dishes that make you wonder how the French are (generally) so slim and live for so long! At our chef’s request, my steak came out perfectly rare which is just how I like it. For the sauce, some use red wine and others use cognac. Some add veal stock for added flavor and richness, and of course it helps when that veal stock is made fresh for you! For me though, you can’t really go wrong with any of these variations. Just don’t let the cream over power the other flavors!
What you see is called pommes darphin which is very similar to a rosti except that a rosti is usually made with cooked potato and a darphin is made from raw potato. Either way it’s potato cooked in clarified butter and who would say no to that! If you’re curious for instructions, shoot me an email.
Mmm – well I hope you enjoyed all that… What are some of YOUR soul foods?