Friday, March 11, 2011

For Angie: Bubble and Squeak with Honey-Ale Onion Gravy

I admit there are two aspects of today’s article that require explanation.

First explanation: Bubble and Squeak

As much as Bubble and Squeak might sound like the name of a Saturday morning cartoon show in which the two main characters take turns dropping anvils on each other, it’s actually a marvelous English dish dating back to World War II. In a time when many foods were in short supply, there was a need for new ways to make sure nothing was wasted, and so a dish designed to make creative use of leftover meat, vegetables and potatoes developed.

Today Bubble and Squeak (a name most sources agree comes from the sound the patties sometimes make when being pan-fried) is just as often made with newly-cooked ingredients, but its value as a classic English way to serve leftovers remains. The recipe below uses newly-cooked ingredients, including the traditional cabbage, but feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand. (I’ve also put the meat - sausage, in this case - into the patty, but it’s just as proper to make the patty from potatoes and vegetables only and serve the meat on the side.)

The real point here is the general method: combine cooked vegetables and potatoes (and, if you like, meat) into a patty, and pan-fry it into something wonderful. And it’s also worth nothing that your Bubble and Squeak patties will be just as good for breakfast as they are for dinner.

In the photo above, the patty is shown with a tomato omelette as a side dish. (Today’s article includes recipes for the patty and the gravy. I hope to cover omelettes as a separate topic very soon.) You can also serve it with a salad, soup, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Second explanation: Who is Angie and why is Ben dedicating, of all things, a recipe to her?

In the profile connected to her wonderful blog, "Can You All Hear Me at the Back?", Angie described herself this way:  “Little, chubby (ok, fat then), blonde, beautiful, fibber (well, blonde's right...approximately), disabled, deaf and daft. I enjoy making sugar flowers and am reasonable at it, though they probably wouldn't win any prizes.” A more comprehensive description would have included her being a charming, inspiring English lady whose brilliant light and spirit illuminated the many lives she touched through her blog posts and e-mails. Regular readers of this blog have seen Angie’s comments on my posts many times.

A few days ago I was shocked and saddened to learn that, around the end of January, Angie took ill and passed away. There are literally people all over the world who will miss her. Were I a musician or poet I’d want to write a great song or poem in her memory.  As it happens, I’m neither of those things, but I do like to cook some, and so it is for Angie that I make my first foray into English cuisine. I strongly suspect the whimsical undertones of Bubble and Squeak would appeal to her.

And now, I’d imagine she’d be telling me to stop talking and get to the recipe already!

This recipe makes 6 burger size patties.
Put a large pot of water on the stove over medium-high heat. When it has started to boil, put three medium potatoes with the skins on into the pot and cook until they’re fork tender. (For medium potatoes, this should be about 12 minutes after the water has started boiling again after the potatoes were added.) When the potatoes are done, drain them well and set them aside for a few minutes until the crackling sound stops. Cool (and, if desired, peel) the cooked potatoes, add some butter (about 2 – 3 tablespoons) and mash until chunky mashed potatoes form. This should make about two cups of mashed potatoes. (Of course, if you already have left-over mashed potatoes, just use them and skip this step!) 
Next we’ll make our cooked meat and vegetables. (Unless you already have leftover meat and vegetables, in which case just use them! Are we seeing a pattern here?)
After the potatoes have been removed from the water, boil one half of a medium  cabbage till tender, about 3-4 minutes. When the cabbage is done, let it cool enough to cut, then dice it (1/2” pieces).

Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Cook 1-1/4 pounds of turkey sausage meat (cases removed) in the skillet till browned, then remove the meat from the skillet and set aside.

Using the same skillet (and adding a little more oil if necessary), saute ½ a diced medium onion, 1 diced green pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. When the vegetables are soft, add the cooked sausage to the onions in the skillet and mix well.

To the skillet, add the chopped, boiled cabbage and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook the mixture till lightly browned (about two minutes).

Transfer the cooked vegetable mixture to a bowl, and fold in 2 cups of mashed potatoes till blended. Using your hands, form about 6 patties, each about ½” thick. Working two at a time, cook the patties in the pan till browned and just a little crisp, about 3 minutes per side, adding butter or oil as needed.
To make the honey-ale onion gravy:
In a skillet, sauté a diced onion in 3 tablespoons of butter, then add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and stir until smooth. Add a bottle (12 ounces) of English ale (Bass or similar)and 2 tablespoons of honey. Cook on high till it thickens to a gravy for topping the Bubble and Squeak patties.
If you’d like a cookbook style, notebook ready copy of this or any other Kissing the Cook recipe, say the word and it shall be done!

See you next week with another recipe adventure! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. (Or, as Angie would no doubt say, “MWAH!”)


  1. You are so right about Angie!! My eyes got teary while I read your tribute to her. I miss her dancing mouse comments on my blog. You honored her with such a beautiful post about her, Ben.

  2. P.S. Thank you for the definition of Bubble & Squeak because I have always wondered what the heck it was!!! :)

    P.P.S. I believe I found your blog through Angie!

  3. Hi Ben - - - seems we were doomed to ONE day find each other's blog since I too was a HUGE Angie fan AND the mother of Keri.

    I've noticed your little icon at both of their blogs and wondered about you - - - who you were and how they BOTH found you etc.

    Just yesterday I went back to Angie's blog to see if anyone had been able to post an article there telling of her loss. I then looked in the comments to see if there was anything there - - - and found yours.

    I believe you and I felt just the same way about Angie.

    I will confess, that while she was still living, still blogging, still commenting, and still e-mailing I deluded myself into believing I was her "special bloggy friend." Now I know the truth - - - she loved us all. She was special to us all.

    I still grieve her loss.

  4. Thank you both so very much. (And a warm welcome to my site, Keetha! I am glad you found me. It seems we connected through not one, but two marvelous ladies.) Angie was special indeed, and so alive that is difficult for the heart to recognize the reality of her passing. You're completely right that Angie's heart had equally genuine love for many. She truly will be missed.

  5. Thanks, Sandra. As you can see from the other comments above, Angie touched a lot of us. She really will be missed.

  6. Here I am! Angie sent me over. Truthfully, I came over from Martha's blog when I saw your comment. And, I love to "kiss men who cook". My husband cooks. Both of my sons cook. It's a good thing. And, to come here, find you and realize you knew Angie is a really good thing!!


  7. Welcome, Bonnie. It is a great pleasure to meet you, and to know you're from a household that loves to cook. I hope I measure up! (And, you know, I don't doubt for a moment Angie had a hand in working through Martha to send you over. :-) )

  8. Ben, I folowed you oever here from a comment you left on Angie's page. She would have loved this. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady. I miss her every day. I was so shocked when her sister called me to tell me of her passing. I couldn't believe it . . . still can't. I was able to attend her funeral and it was lovely. I don't think up to the point of her passing, her family (other than Keith) had actually realized just how witty, brilliant and wonderful her blogs were, and how very much loved she was the whole world over. I loved her dearly. We talked every day and set the world to rights every time. I truly believe that Angie lives on in those who knew and loved her, warts, anorl. xx

  9. Welcome, Marie, and thank you so much for your comment. It especially means a great deal to me coming from someone who knew Angie so well. Ironically (or perhaps fittingly, depending on how you look at it, I suppose) I looked again today at the last e-mail I got from her, from around the middle of January. I think you were copied on it as well. It was a forward of a piece written by a 90 year old woman, about the 45 lessons life taught her. All 45 were positive, life-loving thoughts that might just as well have been written by Angie herself. We mourn her passing for sure, but how lucky we were to have had her at all.