So, one evening, BDH and I were watching BBC television over the VPN — you know, as you do — and a commercial came on. It was one of those commercials that grocery store chains do with somebody cooking a recipe using stuff you buy in their store.
And we watch the BBC a lot, so over the course of a week or two we saw this commercial several times. After the fourth or so time, BDH says to me, “Mmmm, doesn’t that look good?” (About the dish the woman was cooking, OF COURSE, not the woman herself. We are nothing if not motivated by food.)
And so off to Teh Googles went I. And I learned that the woman was, in fact, one Delia Smith, who I gather is a well-known British chef. Mostly I know this because she was referenced by Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley as being part of the Cooking Holy Trinity, along with Mrs. Cropley. (Which should stand as a warning, but hey. What do I know.)
Anyhoo, I figured…. Pssssh, I can make this Cottage Pie thing, right? It looked like it was basically a standard shepherd’s pie recipe as I know it, only… Britished up. For example, lamb stock? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I LIVE IN CANADA HAHAHAHAHA. Also, it took me a while to figure out what the hell a “swede” was — I was pretty sure the Brits don’t cannibalize their Scandanavian neighbours but, you know, I don’t LIVE there or anything.
As it turns out, a swede is a turnip. I’M GETTING SO CULTURED.
Also, no offense to the Welsh, but our UK friends seem to have a thing with leeks. This time, as a topping. Okay. I’m adaptable, right?
Turns out, not so much.
I started cooking according to the instructions, which seemed a little nutty. First off, it called for 2 medium onions. I’m beginning to learn NEVER TRUST A RECIPE THAT DOESN’T GIVE EXACT MEASUREMENTS. Because my assessment of a large or a medium somethingorother may be totally different to another person’s. And, as it turns out, my assessment of a medium onion was probably WAAAAY different than Delia’s, because that was a lot of onion.
Also, 3 oz of carrot and 3 oz of swedeturnip? THREE OUNCES? Really, Delia? That’s not even a whole carrot. And possibly the smallest turnip in the history of horticulture. I mean, if you’re gonna go that small, WHAT IS THE POINT? So I kinda did my own vegetable thing there.
But I continued cooking, using EVERY COOKING UTENSIL KNOWN TO MAN I might add, and after awhile, things came together as they should. Or, at least, fairly close to how I felt they probably should, were Delia looking on at the progress I was making.
And the time came to put it all together. It looked pretty good. The meat and veg had a little too much liquid. The potato topping looked a little sparse. But it was fine.
UNTIL THE LEEKS.
Again, we have the problem of someone’s assessment of “medium”. When I went to the grocery store, there were no “large” and “medium” and “small” leeks. There were just, you know, LEEKS.
But the recipe called for two medium leeks. So I started chopping the first leek, and I suddenly came to the conclusion of HOLY HELL THAT IS A LOT OF LEEKS. I chopped most of one leek and my cutting board was becoming home to Mount Leek. So I said “screw it” and thought we had plenty. As it was, I sprinkled maybe half of what I chopped — perhaps half of the leek-sized leek I bought at the grocery store amid all the other leek-sized leeks — on top of the potatoes, and it was still WAY TOO MUCH LEEKS.
And into the oven it went.
The leeks remained leeky, not at all the cheese-crusted topping the recipe promised. But aside from that, and the too-much liquid bubbling up the sides and flooding the topping, it turned out quite well. Definitely tasty. BDH raved and said the recipe was a keeper.
But, as we gnawed through the ridiculously leeky topping, my husband — who, bear in mind, holds onions as his favourite vegetable and can eat thick slices of raw onions on sandwiches without a second thought — said, “It’s delicious. But, maybe next time, skip the leeks.”