My father’s name is Justos Eustace Francis D’Souza. Apparently, when the priest at the church was filling up his baptism certificate, he pulled Justos out of thin air and gave him this name that pissed off his father. The rest of my father’s six brothers (and only siblings) all have names that start with an “E”, except my dad. According to my Uncle Edwin, my Papa wanted to KILL the priest. This does not surprise me. My father is the youngest of his brothers and he is the main cook in our family. He loves entertaining and loves to cook new things until he can perfect it. He is a great partner to my mother, even though they are complete opposites (He can’t sit still, and she likes to take her time doing things).
I know I’m a day late writing this Father’s Day post but aren’t we the same people that say things like: “Why celebrate just one day?” If it was up to my dad, he wouldn’t give a shit. I don’t need to change my facebook photo, my face or my instagram – he’s a lot more important to us than that. He loves eating something sweet after lunch and dinner and he wakes up at 5am everyday, blasting the radio and then leaving it on while he goes off to play badminton with his friends. Muscle ache on one day? “I’m feeling better now,” he says the same day as if to convince my mother that he is not going to render himself immobile. He hasn’t done any bodily damage yet and like he rightfully corrected me, he’s 64 and looks nothing like it. He is a typical Asian father, (I’ve learnt that our continent produces very similar fatherly-types) and everything he does, he does for his family. Father’s Day 2014 is no big deal. But I feel it’s necessary to toast a man who jointly raised 3 daughters, and unknowingly taught them how to be badasses (This is not a negative thing, Mama and Dada). So here’s my interview #2 with my Dada, all the way from Goa, India.
1) White chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate?
2) Do you like having such a long and complicated name?
It is not complicated. In the old days babies were always given a minimum of 3 names.
3) Why do you sleep so early?
I believe in the early to bed and early to rise philosophy. Also it gives you a head start to do things instead of trying to hurry.
4) What’s your favourite food to cook in a hurry in the morning when you’re trying to get your wife to get ready for work?
Rice, fish curry, some veggies and marinate fish to fry later.
5) Who taught you to cook? What’s the first thing you cooked by yourself?
I learnt myself (mainly the basics) at home in Mumbai and later in Saudi Arabia when I went to meet friends at their place of residence.
5) Name your three favourite ingredients?
Garam masala, ginger-garlic paste and chillies
7) How does it make you feel when see how well you and mama have provided for your family?
I think it is our duty to look after the children when you have them. This is what has been done for years by all parents. I do not know if this system will survive in the future.
8) What made you realise you wanted to marry your wife/our mother?
I liked her the moment I saw her and all the rest fell into place.
9) What is one of the best things you learnt from your father?
To respect others, listen more than talk, and do good (if you can) to others.
10) Were you a mama’s boy?
Maybe being the youngest. But I think later Edgar was the favourite as he did not get married.
11) Who is your favourite brother?
I don’t have any favourite
12) How do you manage to look 10 years younger than 63?
I am 64 and not 63. My principle of hardwork, exercise and “early to bed” has helped.
13) What are your best memories from your childhood?
Very little as we grew up the hard way, like most of the Goans in Mumbai. Although we had other sorts of entertainment and there was a lot of love among people. Unlike now people only spend their time on computers and watching TV.
14) Is there anything you regret in your life?
Nothing! I think God has blessed me and given me more than I deserve.
15) Why do you think Bidli likes you so much? (Editor’s note: Bidli is my cat)
It is not Bidli liking or disliking me. I feed her which no one does. Surely she will like me.
16) Who’s your favourite daughter? (Mama didn’t answer this one and Jane thinks it’s me, just so you know)
I don’t have any favourites. To me I will give and do the same for all
17) When are you coming to visit me?
If your mother would be able to travel I could come to the US every year. Tough luck. Anyway, I may see if I can come someday. First you move into to your new house.
18) Do you care about Father’s Day or not?
To me it is just another day as I have to go about doing my daily chores.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad and yours, your father figures and mothers/dads who do it all on their own, with devotion and love.
Eggs with herb-y baked beans on a polenta cake
What better way to celebrate my dad with a meal I most remember him cooking for our family on Sunday. I cooked this for myself today to remember his Sunday breakfasts for us when we were younger (and even now, except we wake up too late on Sunday for him to wait around for us). I always ate what I called a “yolk egg”. I loved the white cooked and the yolk raw as a sunny day. The baked beans and polenta cake is an updated take on what I consider comfort food. Thanks to the runny “yolk egg” that my father made me (“You want one egg or 2?”), I will always have eggs on a Sunday.
Herb-y baked beans
You’re about to notice that I used canned, diced tomatoes to make these baked beans. I know I wanted a thicker baked bean situation, which I wasn’t able to get from natural ripe tomatoes. It requires some of the canning juices to form the body that makes it breakfast-y, which is why I recommend it. You can make this a day before and store it in the fridge.
- 1 tbsp cooking olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup leeks, white and light green parts chopped
- 411 gms/14.5 oz (1 can) diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 425 gm (1 3/4 cups)/15 oz or 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (if they’re from a can)
- pat (about 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter
- Salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F
Heat up some olive oil on medium heat in a skillet and to it add the chopped garlic. Stir around for about a minute, making sure it does not brown. Once you begin to smell the garlic, add the leeks and stir for another minute or until the leeks are slightly softened.
Add the diced tomatoes, juices and all and let it simmer, stirring from time to time. Once the tomato juices have reduced and slightly thickened, add the herbs to it. Mix well and add the cannellini beans, stir around for about a minute and then take it off the stove. Using the back of a spatula, flatten the contents so they are evenly-spread in the skillet.
Cut about half a tbsp of unsalted butter or more (if you like) and put it on the contents of the skillet. If you have an oven-safe cast iron skillet, pop it into the oven for 5 minutes. Pull it out at the 5 minute mark, give it one stir and once again spread the contents evenly in the skillet. Put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. The tomato-y flavours will have settled perfectly with the beans and you will smell the herbs from a mile away, as they bring this dish together. Season with salt.
The original recipe serves a lot more people and can be made with the help of a 9×9 inch cake tin. I didn’t want leftovers (crazy, I know) so I halved the recipe and “cuted” it up with ramekins. I used 2 ramekins, which were about 3.5 inches in diameter. They made polenta cakes that were about 1.5″ in height. Next time I try this, I might add something more to the cornmeal (CHEESE+GREENS!). For now, these did well.
Adapted from Food52
(makes two 3.5″ polenta cakes)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal (I used a medium grind)
- Butter or cooking spray, for greasing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
In a medium-sized pot, add milk, water and salt and bring it to a boil on medium-high heat. When the liquid starts to bubble, start adding the cornmeal, a little by little, stirring as you go. Once you’ve added all the cornmeal, keep stirring the mixture for about 5 minutes until it’s thick, smooth and creamy. Apart from creating a smooth texture, the stirring also helps prevent the cornmeal from sticking to the pot.
Grease 2 ramekins with butter or cooking spray. Add half and half of the cornmeal mix to them until they are about 1/2 full. Let them cool completely for 15-30 minutes and set. This cooling process helps the polenta cakes take the shape of the container (the ramekins, in this case).
Add 1 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick (preferably) skillet on a medium-high flame. Overturn the ramekins and the polenta cakes should slip out easily. If they aren’t doing so, you can try loosening them up with a butter knife.
Put the polenta cakes on the skillet and cook them for 2 minutes on one side. Flip the cake and cook for 2 more minutes. Once they have that even brown colour, they are done.
Serve them up on a plate. Top with warm herb-y baked beans.
Lastly, don’t forget the egg! Cook an egg, over easy and put it on the very top of this delicious breakfast-brunch pyramid.