Although a selection of glorious picnics, fry-ups and teas tantalize the reader throughout The Wind in the Willows, the meal that always stands out for me is the bubble-and-squeak that the jailer's daughter serves Mr. Toad.
"Now, cheer up, Toad,' she said, coaxingly, on entering, `and sit up and dry your eyes and be a sensible animal. And do try and eat a bit of dinner. See, I've brought you some of mine, hot from the oven!'
It was bubble-and-squeak, between two plates, and its fragrance filled the narrow cell. The penetrating smell of cabbage reached the nose of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the floor, and gave him the idea for a moment that perhaps life was not such a blank and desperate thing as he had imagined." -Chapter 8
I should be very clear that what I'm about to suggest is in no way a proper bubble-and-squeak. In fact, bubble-and-squeak purists will likely be scandalized. In fact, they'll definitely be scandalized. Consider yourself warned.
I'm New York girl. At the age where most children beg for candy, I begged for noodle kugel. When most children were inhaling french fries, I was eating knishes. So when bubble-and-squeak was first explained to me as being a fried mixture of cabbage and potato by my Mother's very good friend (who hails from County Sligo), the image it conjured was distinctly... kosher.
I know in my head that what the jailer's daughter served Mr. Toad between two plates was probably not made with hot pink pickled cabbage, but you'll never convince my heart.
Lime Street's Catskills Bubble-and-Squeak
1 Cup Pickled Red Cabbage
1 Cup Mashed Potatoes, cold
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Tsp Sour Cream (optional)
1. Add chilled potatoes, cabbage, salt and pepper in a bowl and blend with your hands until the mixture is well combined.
2. Add the olive oil to a non-stick skillet and place over medium-high heat.
3. While the oil is heating, form the potato/cabbage mixture into four evenly sized patties and dust both sides of each patty with a small portion of flour.
4. Once the oil is shimmering, place the patties in the pan and cook for roughly five minutes on each side, until the onside of the patties are crisp and golden brown.
I enjoy my Catskill's Bubble-and-Squeak with a dollop of sour cream, but that's entirely your call. May it have the same restorative powers for you as it did for Mr. Toad!