A “River Cafe” meal with a history. Maybe too much history.

Our first meal from “The River Cafe Cook Book” this month reprises two old favourites that were served together one fateful night, many years ago. Anna will explain. The recipes were: Grilled Squid with Chillis and Penne with a Slow-Cooked Sausage Sauce.

Anna: Well. Um. Well. I was having my first proper dinner party.

Kirstin: No it wasn’t! I did dinner parties with you!

Anna: No, this was a proper two-course meal, not just lasagne when we were 16! Kirstin drove me to Waitrose so I could get the proper parmesan, the proper rocket. And I had a massive problem with grilling the squid,  and I was trying to impress someone who was there, if we’re honest. Kirstin had to take over. It was a successful night!

Kirstin: More for some people than others. Where is he now?

Anna: He is in Sydney. Peter, don’t give me the lip. But I can’t remember who else was there.  That is the secret of the sausage sauce! The rumpy! It guarantees rumpy!

Peter: Is there a good hotel around here?

Anna: Have you ever cooked this menu, Kirstin?

Peter: What, the black-widow menu? The “every bloke I’ve every shagged” menu? You’ve had a liaison with everyone who’s eaten the sausage sauce.

Kirstin: I hope you haven’t cooked it for anyone else.

Anna: The point is not what happened that night, which was…

Kirstin: Graphic.

Anna: No, we didn’t have sex. But it was a very successful dinner party.

Kirstin: But I had to cook half of it! You didn’t even get a shag out of it!

Anna: Anyway, I wanted to impress the man.

Kirstin: We were incidental.

Anna: No, no, I wanted to bring people together! And I think it was successful! Everyone enjoyed the food. With sausage sauce, there are a lot more memories! Sausage sauce was also the first thing I ever made for my husband.  Can I just tell the story of that night? I’d just moved into my flat. It was a Sunday night, we put the mattress from my bed in the front room because I didn’t have a sofa, we watched “The Cider House Rules”, we watched the film and it was lovely. It was romantic.

Kirstin: Did you snog afterwards?

Anna: Yes, we did. Kirstin, tell your stories of sausage sauce!

Kirstin: Well, yeah. It’s been a pivotal recipe. It was the first thing I ever cooked in our old house, in Circus Street. We cooked lots of it before we had Ella, to freeze it. Then I just cooked it anyway, when she was in the sling. We have cooked it all over the world, this recipe. We always cook it on Fridays. And it’s interesting to taste other people’s versions of it. My mum doesn’t break up the sausage. And we sometimes use passata instead of tomatoes. And we don’t always include the nutmeg and the chillis.

Anna: We like lots of chilli.

Kirstin: Yes. you just have to be very careful when chopping up the chilli.

Anna: We have both reinterpreted the sausage sauce.

Kirstin: And spread it around our friends like a virus.

Anna: And the dressing on the squid, the whole quantity was wrong. That is going to be the theme of the month.

Tom: But that was yum, though!

Anna: But we had loads of dressing left over. But sausage sauce we will make forever. We need to give a verdict. Squid: 7/10 because I like squid and I like chilli and rocket. The sausage sauce I’m going to have to give 10/10 because we eat it all the time!

Kirstin: Squid I give 5/10. The mess it’s left in the pan; I’m not cooking that again, and I have to go to the Chinese supermarket. I’m not cooking that again. Sausage sauce: 10/10. And that was a brilliant sausage sauce. With the nutmeg. I will remember to use the recipe next time.

Anna (though gritted teeth): But with your own quantity of pasta.

Tom: That was a really good sausage sauce. Great wine, too. What was that Viognier?

Anna: Lambert Bridge Sonoma County Viognier 2007. And the red was L. Preston by Preston of Dry Creek.

Peter: I give the squid 7/10; I do like it.

Kirstin: Are you cleaning the pan, then? No, Tom is.

Peter: As for the sausage sauce, I’ll go for 8/10. It was good.

Anna: 8? No rumpy for you tonight!

Peter: I just have a more conservative voting pattern, that’s all. Small c.

Anna: But it’s our dish!

Peter: You and everyone else’s!

Kirstin: What could possibly get a 10?

Peter: Ooh, I don’t know. Scotch egg?

Anna: I’m not making one of them.

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A “River Cafe” meal with a history. Maybe too much history.

8 thoughts on “A “River Cafe” meal with a history. Maybe too much history.

    1. We usually get our sausages from our local butcher Dring’s. Otherwise Waitrose have them, or even Sainsbury’s. I have Twelve but haven’t looked at it for years but loved one of her other books Apricots and Jam.

  1. On the sausage front, I get what seem like good results to me by using the Toulouse sausages from Simply Sausages in the market, which have the advantage for some of us of being gluten free, and adding generous amounts of fennel seed, crushed, at the frying stage. Mentioned this to the nice Australian bloke at Simply Sausages and he said that their Italian sausage, when they do it, is basically the Toulouse sausage with bacon not included and added fennel. So my way uses Italian sausage with added bacon. And as we all know added bacon is a universal good.

    1. Georgia says:

      Ooh, thanks for this. When I lived in NYC, it was hard to find ordinary bangers. They were either made of flipping turkey (not a sausage really) or just too puny. But I could get really good spicy sausages in Chelsea Market. Oh god, now I want one…

  2. annastamour says:

    If you can’t get hold of Italian sausages you can just use normal and add fennel seeds….. I have Twelve too, but haven’t ever really cooked from it. Hmm. Maybe time to try it again. What recipes do you recommend Georgia?

    1. Georgia says:

      Alex has made the lasagne, which takes for-EVAH but is rich, traditional and delicious. I could eat a whole tray of lasagne all by myself.

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