"Now cheer up, Toad," she said coaxingly, on entering, "and sit up
and dry your eyes and be a sensible animal. And do try and eat a
bit of dinner. See, I've brought you some of mine, hot from the oven!"
It was bubble-and-squeak, between two plates, and its fragrance
filled the narrow cell. The penetrating smell of cabbage reached
the nose of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the floor, and
gave him the idea for a moment that perhaps life was not such a
blank and desperate thing as he had imagined.
from The Wind in the Willows
by Kenneth Grahame
Oh please tell me you've read it.
I realize I say pretty much the same thing every Friday, but The Wind in the Willows is one of my all-time favorites. It's thoroughly British country, so the pages are full of lazy afternoons, tea and brunch, tweed and wicker baskets. And really...how could you not love a story so full of precious personalities, embodied in tiny woodland creatures?
Yes, I even love vain Mr. Toad.
The gaelor's daughter brings Toad bubble-and-squeak to tempt him out of his misery while he's locked up in a dungeon for stealing an automobile. (P.S. gaoler = jailer...who knew?!)
Bubble-and-squeak is traditionally made from the leftover vegetables made with a roast, mixed with mashed potatoes and fried to crispy perfection. The name comes from the sounds emitted by the vegetables as they fry up. We gobble up our leftovers before we have time to do much else with them, so I made mine from scratch. But if you have some hearty leftover veggies around, feel free to substitute. That's the point!
4 medium russet potatoes (~2 lbs)
1/2 large head of cabbage (~1 lb)
4 medium carrots (~1/2 lb)
14-16 brussels sprouts (~1/2 lb)
1 large sweet onion
1 extra large vegetable bouillon cube
1 whole bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp celery salt
Slice the potatoes into ~1" slices. Combine four cups of water and the bouillon in a large, covered pot. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and bay leaf, cover, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender (15-20 minutes). In the meantime, finely chop the cabbage and carrots, and quarter the sprouts.
Remove the potatoes from the broth with a fork or slotted spoon, discarding the bay leaf. Add cabbage, carrots, and sprouts to the broth, cover, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until vegetables are fork tender (3-8 minutes). In the meantime, chop the onion, and mash the potatoes with about 1 tbsp of oil, using a masher or whisk.
Strain the broth from the pot and add the now mashed potatoes back in. Add the paprika, allspice, and celery salt, and mix well. Add some oil and the onion to a large frying pan, and saute on medium high until onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Add them to the large pot and stir them into the vegetable mixture.
Heat the frying pan again, adding more oil if necessary. Spread the vegetable mixture in the bottom of a pan in a layer about 3/4" thick. Fry on medium-high for 4-5 minutes, until the bottom is browning. You should be able to separate the layer into pieces; flip these using a spatula, and fry the second side for another 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and repeat with the remaining vegetables. This will probably take 3-4 cycles.
It's totally worth it.