I made this wee promo for the legend that is Sarah Savoy for her new cook book “The Savoy Kitchen, A Family History of Cajun Food”, and I thought I’d share it with you. Sarah also plays traditional Cajun music with her band The Francadians, and is one of the most awesome people I’ve ever had the pleasure of filming. Christmas is coming, and why not have gumbo instead of turkey this year? You can get the book via www.kitchenpress.co.uk or amazon, probably, and while you’re cooking up a storm you could listen to her on spotify, if you like?
For a while now I’ve been advocating that the Spill could expand to be more adventurous than just a music blog. After Zala’s painting success I tried photos, dead flop, no one came. So how about food? Everyone likes food, right?
So here’s a very simple and topical recipe that anyone can try; since we’re all in the middle of a tomato glut, at least I am.
I don’t know what I did wrong/right this year but we’re deluged with tomatoes just now in a way that’s never happened before and there’s only so many that two people can eat.
Just about every day I pick about 10+ lbs of fresh tomatoes, whatever we do there’s always that amount sitting on the kitchen counter, almost all Brandywine heirlooms, the best tasting tomato in the world, bar none! Gina gave me an ultimatum, NO MORE TOMATOES, she’d canned/salsa-ed and preserved enough to feed the the 5,000! And yet they kept coming and they will continue to keep coming, there’s many dozens still on the vines!
So today I decided to try something, Tomato Soup. It’s very simple, takes about 15 -20 minutes.
I always use peeled tomatoes in anything I cook, it’s just a thing about not liking tomato skins in food, so let’s begin by peeling the tomato’s.
It’s very simple, start with a saucepan of boiling water, have another of cold water in the sink. Add your tomatoes to the boiling water and keep an eye on them, depending on size within about 2-3 minutes you’ll see the skin begin to split; quickly scoop them out and into the cold water! With an apple corer scoop out the top stem, If your timing was right the entire skin should just fall away, if not, poke at it.
You’ll get a feel for the timing fairly quickly, if you leave them in the boiling water too long they’ll become soggy and cooked, too short, more difficult to peel, work at it.
Once you have a quantity of peeled tomatoes quarter them and set them aside.
Peel and slice half an onion and chop small. Saute it in a saucepan in olive oil ’til soft, add the quartered tomatoes and any spices that you think necessary plus some chicken, broth; I use organic and for 10+ lbs I used less than a quart. I add about a half teaspoon of very hot African peppers, it doesn’t make it hot but gives a lovely warm afterglow.
Let it sit.
In another saucepan melt about 3/4 of a stick of butter, when melted begin to add flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time with constant stirring with a whisk.
Keep adding until it gets very stiff and then add a ladle of tomato juice, stir ’til smooth and then add some more juice, keep going until it’s a creamy thick paste and then add it back to the original.
You’ll have a wonderful rich tomato soup much better than anything you ever bought from Heinz! Give it a few stirs and let it cool ’til the spouse/significant other/sweetheart comes home at 5 o’clock. He/she will think that you’re absolutely fabulous and will offer to type your impending cook book for you. Have a baguette at hand.
As they/she says, bon appetit! Enjoy and feel free to improvise freely, I did.
Let me introduce you to the newest member of the Abahachi household: Pat (named after my late father-in-law). Pat may look like a galvanised dustbin with a few holes in it, but this is actually my new smoker, in which I put to work the skills and knowledge acquired at a course last week (birthday present from Mrs Abahachi). So far I have smoked bacon, salmon, chicken, scallops (delicious), mackerel, cheese and salt; in this picture you can see Pat smoking some haddock for next weekend’s kedgeree, and at some point I plan to smoke some malt so that I can make Rauchbier. And if you come to the West Country Social – looking like mid-September, but there’s plenty of time still to register your availability – you’ll be able to sample some of Pat’s products, plus my home-produced cider, beer, bread, apple juice…
Beginning with apologies for a blatant format swipe of recipe and song from Steenbeck’s blog! It’s wonderful, if you haven’t yet checked it out.
Tincanman‘s challenge this week has started the gastric juices flowing. Some wonderful recipes (some new and some old family favourites) have been hinted at, alluded to and one already offered by Fintan on the Challenge itself.
Edit: We’ll start by asking you to share your favourite barbeque recipes here, adding an appropriate song or tune to go with the recipe. It doesn’t need to be a barbeque themed song – you can post that on the Challenge. We can cover grilling meat, fish, vegetables and marshmallows (!) next week, and salads and deserts after that, if there is sufficient interest.
I don’t really have time to do this properly, and I really ought to be doing several other things – but since everyone else is clearly in the same position, that is going to provide the theme for these last-minute stopgap EOTWQs. Apologies for the fact that they’re rather mundane, but it’s that sort of day, and in any case I’m hoping that in true ‘Spill fashion the most mundane questions will actually yield the most fascinating answers…
1. What domestic task do you complete every week without fail – or get very twitchy if for some reason you’re prevented from doing so?
2. What is the task that you will avoid doing by any means possible?
3. What thing do you always forget – genuinely forget, rather than accidentally on purpose – to do?
As some of you may recall, I recently had a trip to New Orleans . As a lover of jazz, blues and cajun/zydeco, this has been on my wishlist for years, and I was not disappointed (thanks for the research, ejaydee). I can see why Ray Davies chose to live there (until getting shot, and health problems, drove him back into the arms of the NHS). My yen to visit was piqued by the TV series ‘Treme’ (from The Wire’s David Simon, on Sky this Spring – highly recommended). Given the eclectic tastes of most spillers, N’Awlins is a music lovers heaven. Music oozes out of every pore. Buskers, bars, clubs & parades mean you are almost always in earshot of some aural pleasure or other (tho’ like everywhere else, some buskers are clearly trainees). And it’s ‘all the day, and all of the night’, as Ray would say. If that wasn’t enough, the place itself is such a treat. This is a US city where walking never died out as a mode of transport, and when your feet are tired there’s the streetcars and – for tourists – the mule carriages and Mississippi steamboats. Katrina remains an ongoing and shocking scar on the American dream. The population has halved, whole districts have been pulled down as health hazards and left as wasteland. Black families who had lived there for decades have seen their land revert to the city, if they couldn’t prove title. Others have had to downsize as the insurance and Government aid wouldn’t pay to rebuild what they had. But on the surface the place has been resuscitated, the French Quarter and Garden District are as gorgeous as ever, the joint is jumpin’, and the food to die for, despite BP’s best efforts (don’t miss catfish; bread pudding). We had a whale of a time there, and can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve spliced together a few musical moments off my camera, to give a little taster. If you’ve not been, add it to your list.
We were there for haloween, which as you can imagine is a big thing in Voodoo city. And the Saints were playing the Steelers. And there was an amazing annual 3 day music festival in City Park, which sadly I didn’t make. The Irish community had a parade. And the sun shone. ‘Party atmosphere’ just doesn’t do it justice. And at the end of the trip, you can take some of it home, via a credit card binge at the top record store, Louisiana Music Factory…
We haven’t had a food post for a while, so I thought I’d post one.
OK, it was a coldish and wet evening and I wanted some proper comfort food tonight – sausages with whole-grain mustard mash and onion gravy.
Sausages and mash is just one of the truly great things to eat. Porky loveliness plus silky mash and rich gravy. It is just heaven on a plate.
The sausages were Waitrose Gloucester Old Spot with sage, given a nice slow cook in a heavy black iron pan with a slick of oil (Matthew Fort-style sausage cooking) and the mash was made with Desiree potatoes that I put through the ricer and then reheated with butter, milk, Maille whole-grain mustard and finely chopped parsley.
For the gravy, I slowly cooked two thinly sliced red onions in some oil until they were coloured and beginning to caramelise, I added some flour, stirring to amalgamate the oil with the flour and added a slug of Marsala, making a roux to which I added some beef stock (I cheated here because I used a powdered beef stock base rather than a fresh stock) and simmered until it thickened slightly.
I love sausages with mustard, so I had a dollop of Dijon Mustard on the side, but English mustard would work well too.
As this was a hearty dish, most red wines would go well. We drank a Rhône red wine, a 2008 Vinsobres AOC, a wine that is a blend of Syrah and Grenache and a lovely fruity, spicy wine.