Saturday, 27 September 2014

In need of comfort

by: Mr Robot

I've been feeling pretty rubbish for a while. Mrs R passed on some ghastly virus and no amount of rebooting or applying the HotToddy_3.0 patch seems to shift it. Hopefully the week of planned system downtime in a couple of weeks will sort things out.

In the meantime I've been turning, as I'm sure we all do, to food of consolation.

Happily we've had a decent summer this year which has given probably our best ever crop of tomatoes. So a homemade tomato soup has been high on the agenda.

Ruddy marvellous

Two full trays of the ruddy beauties roasted with a bit of olive oil, seasoning, basil on the tray of mainly-cherry and thyme on the one of mainly-big (no science behind that, btw - it just seemed a nice idea). Oh, and some garlic of course.

Then just simmered awhile with a light vegetable stock and perhaps a dash of Worcerster sauce if you're feeling flamboyant. Blitzed up, seeds n' all - I considered passing through a sieve but was feeling too crappy to be bothered.

You don't have to be poorly to enjoy this, but it helps

Inspired by Tony Nayor's excellent How to Eat series on the Guardian's Word of Mouth, I've had monstrous cravings for a good beef stew. So I made one. The key ingredient here being half a pint of Bishop's Finger.

Beef. Beer. Bread. All that's missing is More.

Finding some short-rib of beef at the butcher I was driven back to my beloved Proper Pub Food by St Tom of Kerridge. His recipe calls for about a week of marinading but I fudged it with just a day of veeeery slow cooking. Vital to any Kerridge dish is a damned good stock - not least for the texture it gives.

Naturally I should've used beef but couldn't find any bones (bloody chefs nick 'em all don't they) so resorted to an excellently splidgy pork stock instead with a beef boullion cube tossed in. Worked remarkably well.

Shiny shiny.... Shiny beef of Kerridge

His glazed carrots are a must (if a tad reflective!) and I was quite pleased with my tower of crushed potato and not-crushed cabbage.

The sauce is amazing. It really is. Buy the book just for that.

We've already talked about Bun bo Hue but it's so good I just wanted another look. We've still got about 2 pints of in the freezer you know - it really is a very generous recipe indeed.

Finally, with the air picking up that certain autumnal feel, thoughts turn to Toad in the Hole, regarding which all must bow before Nigel Slater. A batter livened up with mustard (Ringwood brewery's excellent Old Thumper mix in this case) and the finest sausages you can find wrapped in streaky bacon. That is all.

All images (c) PP Gettins


  1. That all looks so tasty! I really want to make some tomato soup now. I've heard of toad in the hole, but being American I've never had a chance to have it. It looks delicious though. Hope you're feeling better!

  2. Hey Jessica, thanks so much for getting in touch. Really sorry not to have replied earlier but our notifications seem to be bust and, frankly, I don't expect comments so never look for them!

    Anyway, I'm vastly better now - thank you.

    Hope you did the soup. Heinz tomato was the goto cure-all when I was little so it's the ultimate comfort for me. With toast and lots of butter. Brought to me by Mum but probably best not to tell the wife that :-)

    Can't imagine what it must be like to live without Toad. You poor thing. I'll try to work out a recipe that doesn't breach international copyright laws.... Forgive the dumb question, but can you get British-style sausages over there, or is it all franks & chorizo? If the latter I can work out a sausage recipe too: this posh wrapped-in-bacon version makes sausage casing redundant anyway.

    What's comfort food to you? Over here we basically know of chicken soup in NY (thanks to Woody Allen, mainly), and broadly Jewish & Italian food as being generally comforting - but that's about it. I bet we're missing loads - any suggestions?

    All the best