I have never been a huge fan of brunch. It combines two things I have never been particularly fond of – getting out of bed before 11am and eggs. I am not really sure why it has universally been decided that every savoury dish on a brunch menu should involve a variety of cooked eggs but it seems to have stuck. Which is unfortunate as basically the only food prejudice I have managed to remain unwavering in my devotion to is my inability to eat any form of cooked egg. Things involving eggs, tortillas, quiches, cakes and the like I can just about manage (and I weirdly love everything in the mayonnaise family), but an omelette or scrambled eggs are my idea of culinary torture.
This never was a problem in Ireland, Australia or Holland, but for some reason brunch seems to be the most regular form of social activity in London. My housemate is a particular fan, and every now and again the guilt over always being the last out of bed in my house takes over and I join her. Which is where I came across this dish. I make it for lunch instead, but it is a great dish as it can be made ahead, it is quick to assemble and all the ingredients are fairly cheap. Bubble and squeak is traditionally made with leftover roast vegetables, but that would take away from the whole it being quick and easy to make, so if I don’t have any lying around, I just use boiled ones. Any selection of root vegetables will do really. If hollandaise isn’t your thing, these would be nice with bacon or goats cheese or (I’m told) a fried egg.
Makes about 12-15 cakes
- 1kg mixed root vegetables (I used potato, parsnip and sweet potato)
- 2 shallots, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 110g unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Peel and chop the vegetable into roughly equally sized chunks (about 1inch cubed).
- Boil for approximately 12-15 minutes until soft.
- Drain and refresh with cold water and leave to cool a bit.
- Meanwhile, fry the shallot in a teaspoon or so of butter until soft (about 5-8 minutes).
- Mash the vegetables and add the shallot.
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- Add the flour, and shape into cakes about 4 inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick (or whatever size takes your fancy really).
- You can either keep the uncooked cakes in the fridge covered in cling film and cook on the day, or cook straight away and then reheat.
- Melt about 10g butter with a tablespoon of olive oil, and fry the cakes in batches, about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- To make the hollandaise, place the two yolks in a large glass or porcelain bowl with a tablespoon of water.
- Place over a pan of simmering (but not boiling) water with the bottom of the bowl just above the water.
- Slowly whisk in the butter piece by piece over about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and emulsifies.
- Be careful to constantly scrape down the side of the bowl or you will get scrambled eggs from the splashes around the sides (if this happens, you can also put it through a sieve before serving).
- If it is not thickening, you may need to turn up the heat on the water.
- If it is cooking too much (i.e. starting to scramble throughout), lower the heat on the water and take the bowl off the heat for a minute while whisking vigourously.
- Once the sauce is properly thickened (it should be slightly thinner than mayonnaise), add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste (or two according to preference) and season with salt and pepper.