Post #468 A Drizzly Day in Holland Park

April 12, 2016 at 11:43 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

There’s a British sitcom (a Britcom for the uninitiated) we watch religiously here in our household.  We have the DVDs and the books.  It’s a cozy family series which takes turns and ups and downs and remains hilariously funny even after the 50th watching.  It’s called As Time Goes By and it stars, among others, Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer.  I won’t go into details because it stretched over 11 seasons with specials, etc.  The reason I bring it up is because so much of the action takes places in kitchens or restaurants.

As Time Goes By

British cuisine used to suffer from a notorious reputation for being bland, but watching so many television shows on cooking, baking, comedies, drama, and seeing their cooking, I can see that’s a reputation that’s far from the reality.

In As Time Goes By, I’ve watched the characters make lamb chops in the broiler.  Just before putting them in, they lay a sprig of rosemary on each chop.  This is a brilliant idea.  The flavor of the herb not only gets into the meat in a delicate manner so it’s not overpowering, but the scent of the rosemary infuses the room.  People’s mouths are watering in anticipation long before they bite into the chop, and they’re tasting the rosemary through their nose enhancing what they’re tasting through their tongue.

Once, I saw Judi Dench make a simple and elegant dessert by putting hulled and quartered ripe strawberries in parfait glasses with a spoonful of sugar.  Fresh whipped cream and a sprig of mint went on top.  Berries and cream.  I’ve eaten bowls of this stuff and never been disappointed.

One time, they made afternoon tea for a special guest and made cucumber and cress sandwiches.  The thing that impressed me most was the actors actually ate the sandwiches (finger buffet, of course) during the scene until there were none left, and the expressions on their faces were ecstatic.  They were really enjoying the food they were eating.  And eating they were, something you seldom actually see on American television.

The lead male character is famous for making an “explosive chile con carne” the other characters can’t go near, much less eat, but which he enjoys with gusto.  Curry is feature often and described as “screaming hot”.  Another character, a housekeeper, is fond of inventing mixed cocktails, although she is no amateur at making the standards.  Her most famous concoction she calls simply “Vroom!”

Carrots and potatoes feature often in domestic scenes, whether in bliss or in warfare.  In one scene, Judi Dench has asked Geoffrey Palmer to shell peas for dinner.  As they bicker back and forth about whatever the episode is about, he keeps shelling peas until he has nearly half a gallon.  “You’ve shelled enough peas to feed a regiment!” he’s told.  “Well, no one told me to stop,” is his reply.  Later, when another character turns down an offer to stay to dinner, Mr. Palmer replied (very drily) “There aren’t enough peas, anyway.”

Our lives center around meals and many of the scenes from this Britcom show that.  It’s one of the things that make it feel natural and comical and very heartwarming.

I’m going to offer a recipe here from another show, one that I haven’t yet tried, but can’t wait to do so.  It’s from The Two Fat Ladies, and Jennifer is making what she calls a Huntsman’s Sandwich.

  • One loaf sturdy white bread, unsliced
  • One 2 pound sirloin steak
  • One pound large mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 table spoon oil or butter

Cut a one inch slice off one end of the bread, then core the bread by taking out the crumb, leaving the crust and about half an inch of crumb around the interior intact.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet and add oil or butter.  Sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper.  Put steak into the skillet and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, making certain the steak is rare and juicy.  Set aside.

Add the mushrooms to the skillet and quickly sauté them until they are browned and crispy and starting to release their juices.

Place the steak into the cavity of the bread, bending it slightly to make it fit if necessary.  Add the mushrooms, stuffing them into all the recesses.  Add any pan drippings either directly or by sopping up with leftover bread crumb.

Place the cut end onto the bread loaf, then wrap tightly with butcher paper.  Tie it up into a tight package with a lot of string.  Put the package on a plate large enough to hold it, and put a very heavy weight onto it and put in the fridge.  Let it sit like that for several hours, or overnight.  This will cause the juices to release and intermingle and get soaked up by the bread.

Cut out of the string and paper, and slice into one inch thick pieces.  Serve cold, or room temperature.

Enjoy

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4 Comments

  1. It’s funny, growing up I wasn’t particularly knocked out by my mom’s cooking. So often it was roasts, roasted chicken, etc. Mostly ” meat and potatoes” kinda fare,
    It wasn’t until I got older, traveled abroad some, and my tastes matured that I realized my mother was a GREAT cook… she just cooked very British/Irish . And I especially understood after seeing an interview with a Brit restaurant owner who explained ” The British believe the food should speak for itself and not be hidden under too many spices or sauces”.
    Looking back there are SO many meals I wish I could go back and eat again, My mom’s cooking was amazing.

    • My mom was an Irish cook, too. She didn’t like cooking and was never very inspired. There were a few things that she did well, and we waited for those nights, as kids. Chicken and Dumplings, Tacos, Fried Chicken, and Roast Turkey. I’ve always preferred the “flavor of food” without the sauces, seasonings, etc. When done right, food just tastes good. Although there are other kinds of foods that have to have the seasonings, sauces, etc. Lift a glass to the moms, right? 😉

  2. I remember watching that being made on the two fat ladies show. And I’ll have to try and watch this show.

    • This show is wonderful. Judi Dench at her best.


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