If politics should be kept from the dinner table, inviting an ex-politician might seem a strange choice. However, Michael Portillo did not earn this invitation for his views, but for his televised railway journeys.
I love a knowledgeable enthusiast. Since leaving Parliament, Portillo has spent his time presenting numerous radio and TV programmes (one of which was Dinner with Portillo where he discussed current affairs with guests as they ate). We are enjoying watching re-runs of his 'Great American Railroad Journeys', where he crosses America using Appleton’s Guide from the 1870s. In this clip he hams it up in a Dodge City shootout.
In Series 2 he takes ‘The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway’ so I thought it would be appropriate to make him a little something which would once have been served on board its most famous train, the Santa Fe Super Chief.
And, as it happens, I have access to some of that train’s most iconic dishes courtesy, once again, of the fabulous Mr Vincent Price who, along with his wife Mary, produced the wonderful book ‘A Treasury of Great Recipes’.
Here is a page from the book, showing what the man himself says:
The Prices enjoyed the meals so much that they included them in The Treasury, along with a copy of the menu from the 1960s:
So, I think 'French Toast Santa Fe' would be a good choice.
Here is the version immortalised by Vincent and Mary:
And this is how I adapted it to share with Michael who can come to dinner and discuss the American West all he likes, as long as he refrains from mentioning Westminster.
FRENCH TOAST SANTA FE
½ cup (120ml) single cream
pinch of salt
½ tsp nutmeg
60ml cooking oil
Trim the crusts from the bread and cut each slice diagonally to make triangles.
In a bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy. Add the cream, salt and nutmeg and mix well.
Soak the bread, a few pieces at a time, so that they absorb the egg/ cream mixture.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the bread in batches on both sides to a golden colour.
Remove and drain on kitchen roll to absorb any excess grease. Place all pieces on a baking tray.
Cook at 400°F/ 200°C/ Gas 6 for about 5 minutes until puffed up.
Serve 3 slices per person. I sprinkled them with some caster sugar and served them with fresh raspberries and a drizzle of the remaining cream.