Real vegetarian food, served in an imaginary world...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guests - TOM WAITS and EDWARD HOPPER

Tom Waits released ‘Nighthawks at the Diner' in 1975; the title taken from the Edward Hopper painting, Nighthawks, which depicted a late-night diner in Greenwich Village, although moving it to the California he was, at that time, more familiar with.
Instead of the male server in the Hopper painting, Waits gives us a tired and over made-up waitress who will deliver the food with a word or two of affection for her regular diners and the newcomers alike. All seem connected by their shared situation, just as the space between the four figures in the Hopper picture is insignificant.

How good it would be to unite them at Zelda's and use the menu items from the album track Eggs and Sausage. It's not the most adventurous meal that Zelda has ever cooked, but it's still a lot of fun, and just imagine the conversation.

Nighthawks at the diner
Of Emma's 49er, there's a rendezvous
Of strangers around the coffee urn tonight;
All the gypsy hacks, the insomniacs.
Now the paper's been read,
Now the waitress said:
‘Eggs and sausage and a side of toast,
Coffee and a roll, hash browns over easy,
Chilli in a bowl with burgers and fries.
What kind of pie?’

Recipes for some items on the menu can be found elsewhere... for this post, Zelda has concentrated on making vegetarian versions of the other items on the menu. I have made each one serve two, but multiply or divide as you wish.

2tbsp vegetable oil
4 vegetarian sausages, defrosted if frozen
4 free range eggs
2 slices bread
butter (on this occasion Zelda used a lot of butter!)

Heat 1tbsp oil in each pan  (You will need two)
Place the sausages in one and cook until brown on each side.
Add the eggs to the other and fry to your preference. (Dave did these, hence the uneven size)
Then serve with the toast (surely no instruction needed!)

I thought this was self explanatory, so posted a picture.
However, my American friend Greg at Recipes for Rebels has explained that Tom would have been referring to a sweet roll.

 So this is probably more like it.

He also suggested that the waitress must have been taking an order for two people as no-one could eat all that food. I think she was, in fact, just listing items on the menu. 
However, Dave did eat all this in one meal!

(Over easy is a term more commonly used to determine how people like their eggs. It instructs the cook to them turn over, so I am guessing that Tom likes his hash browns cooked on both sides. But don't we all?)
500g potatoes (about 5 or 6 medium), peeled
2 medium onions
2 free range eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
4 tbsp plain flour 
vegetable oil for frying

Place a clean tea towel over a bowl. 
Grate the potatoes and the onion into the towel.
Squeeze out all the excess moisture (this may take a few attempts). 

Add the egg, 2tbsp flour, and mix. Season well.
Heat oil in a pan.

Mix remaining 2tbsp flour with some salt and pepper.  With floured hands, shape the mixture into patties about 1cm thick.

 Add patties and cook each side until brown and crispy.

You can serve them right away.
I think, though, that a busy diner would probably have some ready in advance, so I part-cooked a batch and then saved them on kitchen paper.

Then, when you are ready to serve:
Heat some more oil in a pan and fry them in batches.
Fry in batches for about 2-3 minutes each side. 

N.B. Thanks again to Greg who has pointed out that these, although hash browns in the UK, would be 'potato pancakes' in the US. He says that there would be no egg or flour, just shredded potato fried on the griddle with butter or oil, and salt and pepper.

In Zelda's virtual world, this diner has obviously been transplanted onto UK soil! 

If you want this as one meal...

You will need:

  • hash browns (as prepared earlier)
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 4 vegetarian sausages, defrosted if frozen
  • 2 slices bread
  • butter
  • coffee
  • rolls

1. Place three flat pans on the hob, each filled with 1tbsp vegetable oil.
2. Place bread under grill. Turn when necessary.
3. Put eggs in one pan, sausages in another and hash browns in another.
4. Cook all to taste. Hash browns should take less time, so you should be able to cook both batches at the same time as the rest.
5. Butter toast.
6. Serve all with coffee and roll.
7. Thinking outside the box, or maybe inside the tin, we also heated a can of baked beans. 

So, if you find yourself alone, on a late night out, come to Zelda's Diner. Maybe Tom and Ed will be there, too. Dave will definitely be there to eat up anything you can't finish...

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