Friday, February 17, 2012
50 Women Game Changers in Food - #35 Delia Smith - Bubble and Squeak Rösti
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...She is as prolific as Martha Stewart and her voice is heard bell-clear in Britain. I speak, of course, of Delia Smith who is this week's honoree on our journey through Gourmet Live's list of 50 Women Game Changers in Food. She may lack the passion of Elizabeth David, and lead a life that seems almost bland by comparison, but in Britain this plain spoken woman is a force to contend with. Why? I quote now from a profile written about her in The Independent. "Is there anyone who appears duller than Delia Smith? Maybe not; but I would suspect that there are millions of people who are precisely as dull as her: us." Now in her 70's, Delia Smith was born to a working class family and, by her own admission, was just a middling student whose young life was marked by a lack of appreciation. She had no formal training in cooking and, as it turns out, her skill was honed because she wanted to be seen in a more favorable light by a man she had fallen in love with. When that didn't work out, she resolved to become a cook. She arrived in London in 1960 and while working at a travel agency, had dinner in a restaurant called The Singing Chef. She was captivated by the food and soon became a dish-washer at the restaurant. She, by degrees, moved up the restaurant hierarchy and went on to become an assistant at food photo shoots. Her reputation was made when she was able to quickly replace a pie that had been dropped just before a shoot was to began. Word got around and people started to listen to her safe, dependable and basic instructions. She became interested in trying to revive an interest in British food. In 1969, she met Deborah Owen, a newly married literary agent who she taught basic cooking techniques. That acquaintance lead to a job at the Daily Mirror and her career has been on an upward trajectory ever since. Many find her food to be ordinary and her handling of ingredients to be passionless. Yet there she is, larger than life. Her fans, obviously, outnumber her critics. She is Britain's bestselling cookbook writer and the 23 books she has written have sold over 21 million copies worldwide. She has often said she is not a cook. That's probably true, but that overlooks her influence as an arbiter of British eating habits and the way her country cooks. The food world is chock full of saints and sinners who have captured the imagination of the public for reasons that are not always clear. A large segment of Britain heard Delia Smith's voice and responded to it. She has had their ear ever since.
Bubble and squeak is a traditional English dish that is usually made with leftover potatoes and cabbage. The vegetables are fried in a pan until they are well-cooked and brown on both sides. The name comes from the bubble and squeak sounds they make as they cook. This recipe uses fresh vegetables and them cooks them rosti-style. Rosti potatoes are a Swiss dish that is a cross panfried and potato pancakes. Delia's recipe calls for the use of spring greens. Spring greens are actually young, tender cabbage plants that are sold as loose heads of thick green leaves. They do not have the hard core which is found in the middle of fully-grown cabbages. I have never seen them, so I used green the cabbage leaves she suggested as a substitute. This is a nice dish. Mine did not brown in the oven, so I finished them in a skillet before serving. Here is Delia Smith's recipe.
Bubble and Squeak Rösti...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Delia Smith
1 pound boiling potatoes (about 3 evenly sized potatoes weighing about 5-oz. each)
3 ounces spring greens or green cabbage (trimmed weight)
2 ounces mature Cheddar, coarsely grated
1 level tablespoon plain flour
1 ounce butter
1 dessert spoon olive oil
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1) First scrub the potatoes, then place them in a medium saucepan with a little salt. Pour boiling water over to just cover them, then simmer gently with a lid on for 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then, while they are cooling, remove any stalks from the spring greens or cabbage and finely shred the leaves into 1/4-inch slices. This is easy if you form them into a roll and then slice them. Drop the spring greens or cabbage into boiling water for 2 minutes only, then drain and dry well.
2) When the potatoes have cooled, peel them, then, using the coarse side of a grater, grate them into a bowl. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then add the grated cheese and greens or cabbage and, using 2 forks, lightly toss together.
3) To assemble the rösti, shape the mixture into rounds 3 inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Press them firmly together to form little cakes and dust lightly with the flour. If you want to make them ahead, place them on a plate and cover with clingfilm – they will happily sit in the fridge for up to 6 hours.
4) To cook the rösti, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F., placing the baking tray on the top shelf of the oven. Melt the butter and add the oil, then brush the rösti on both sides with the mixture. When the oven is up to heat, place the rösti on the baking tray and return it to the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the rösti over and cook them for a further 10 minutes. Once cooked, it's all right to keep them warm for up to 30 minutes. Yield: 8 rösti.
The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Delia Smith today. I hope you'll pay them all a visit. They are great cooks who have wonderful blogs.
Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden, Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Kathleen - Bake Away with Me, Sue - The View from Great Island Barbara - Movable Feasts , Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Most Lovely Things, Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Next week we will highlight the career and recipes of Edna Lewis. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information no later than Monday, February 20th.