17 October 2010

Soul Food a la Europe

I think the biggest qualm I've had since moving to London, is that I miss American food.  I miss the taste, I miss the smell, I miss the convenience, but most of all I think I miss the diversity.  I'm sure some Brits could argue that the UK is a hub of diverse food, but in my opinion 15 curry shops and twice as many kebab stands isn't my idea of diverse.  It breaks my heart when I go to the shop, ready to make some sweet Mexican food and the only "Mexican" flavours they have come from Old El Paso (Oh how I miss the days of Goya) and to be quite frank, when asked if I want peppers on my burrito I want to punch someone in the face. If I wanted a fajita I would've asked for one damnit - get those peppers outta here!  Recently I've been craving what I consider to be the tastiest food ever - soul food.

To be honest, this post is a bit of a disgrace to soul food, as what I actually made is far too healthy to be listed in this category.  Nonetheless I was determined to get some form of collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken and/or pork in my belly.  Being in London, I was a bit limited, so I settled for a bag of mixed veggies, some drumsticks and I made cornbread...sorta.

I'm quite used to seeing the happy Quaker guy on my box of corn meal so I'm weary of anything outside of that.  I had to make due with whatever was eventually found at the shop, but it seemed to be ground a lot finer than the typical corn meal.  I used the standard recipe sans the Pam cooking spray since I haven't seen any of that here either.  Also I forgot to pay attention to the recipe whilst shopping and didn't have any milk!!! Luckily I made some buttermilk pancakes the day before and had leftover buttermilk and yogurt.  I took the last of my buttermilk (about an ounce) and filled a measuring cup to about 3/4 with that and the yogurt.  Poured that in to the cornbread recipe and added about 1 cup of water and had my milk substitute! It actually worked quite well!!

For the chicken, I decided to bake it rather than fry.  I love baking chicken because you don't have to add anything to it for it to taste great. EVOO, salt, pepper, high heat, 20 mins, done. The second day I made this I added rosemary and diced potatoes and had a mini English roast.  I made gravy the English way as well.  Granules + boiling water. I've never seen anything like that before. I still like the natural way (juices from the meat your cooking + flour + stock etc) but this was quick and worked just fine.  And of course, I can't do just what a recipe says, so I added some sauteed mushrooms and onions to the mix. Good choice!

The veg was a pre-selected assortment from Sainsbury's; broccoli, carrots and green beans and 'courgette' (aka zucchini).  I couldn't find any greens that I trusted to taste the way I wanted.  But let me tell you, when mom makes baked mac n cheese, collard greens with vinegar and ham hock, and cornbread I mix it all together it put it directly in my face. Words can not describe the deliciousness that comes from these dishes, but I shall try.  Everyone loves butter, everyone loves cheese, and how can you not like pork?! If you like them all, your mouth will be happy having them all at once.  But I digress, I didn't make this, I just steamed the veg and went for the healthiest half-assed 'soul food' meal I've ever made.  Someone's rolling in their grave right now.

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