The Gingerman Reboot – In Pictures

I arrived at the Gingerman in Brighton’s Norfolk Square arm in arm with my hunger expecting my taste buds to be indulged. And indulged they were with a sumptuous four course lunch to celebrate the new look Gingerman. The interior of Ben McKellar’s flagship restaurant is perhaps a little less formal than its previous incarnation but the food is still top notch.  Dishes brimming with flavour and flair were impeccably paired with wines from Bibendum and effortlessly served by the Gingerman’s staff. One fellow diner commented that surely a Michelin star would be shooting in McKellar’s direction soon. Now that would be a coup so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

IMG_0795Chicken Wing, Parfait, Chou Farci, Sweetbread, Mushrooms and Honey Brioche – Served with Grillo Parlance, Fondo Antico

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Hand Dived Scallops with Onion Puree, Salsify, Smoked Bacon, Quail Egg and Sauce Vierge – Served with Milton Riverpoint Viognier

P1010741Pork Fillet with Cheek, Belly, Crispy Ear, Cauliflower, Smoked Potato and Brie Croquette – Served with Bolney Estate Pinot Noir and Huia Pinot Noir

P1010743

Passion Fruit Souffle with Mango and Meringue – Served with Moscato d’Asti, Vietti

 

 

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Blood Orange Tart

Serves 8 – 10
Blood Orange Tart LR

 As featured in the March 2015 issue of Sussex Style magazine.

Ingredients – Pastry

  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds or ground hazelnuts
  • 100g cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg

Ingredients – Filling

  • 100g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 130g ground almonds or ground hazelnuts
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • Juice and zest from two blood oranges plus one blood orange, segmented (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. To make the pastry place the flour, almonds or hazelnuts, butter, icing sugar and lemon zest in a food processor. Process until combined. Add the egg then process again until a smooth ball of dough is formed. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200℃. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of around 3 – 5mm. Line a deep 23cm loose bottomed flan tin. Cover the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 10 mins then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 mins. Remove the tart case from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150℃.
  3. For the filling beat the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks followed by the almonds or hazelnuts, juices and orange zest. It doesn’t look very pretty at this stage but it will sort itself out when it cooks!
  4. In a separate, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until the stiff peak stage. Fold these into the orange and nut mixture then pour the filling into the pre-baked tart case. If you like you can use the additional orange segments to decorate the top of the tart. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 – 45 mins until just set. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature or cold.

Blood Orange Tart Slice LR

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Review of Spoonfuls of Honey by Hattie Ellis (Pavilion Books)

9781909108295

I’ve be contemplating becoming a bee keeper for some time now. I recently read that in medieval times “bees were believed to be holy and virginal and able to whisper in God’s ear”*. Not that I consider myself particularly holy and with two children to call my own I can hardly lay claim to the latter. But there is something quite tranquil and unselfish about the honeybee in spite of their tireless productivity so I can see why they were dubbed with these religious characteristics.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Bilton household is less convinced than me of the merits of the bee so there are no hives on the horizon for the foreseeable future. What we do all agree on, whole heartedly, is our love of honey, the product of these industrious creatures. Thanks to Hattie Ellis there is a new cookbook devoted to the culinary uses for this nectar beyond spreading it on your toast. Hopefully, the more I cook from this book I will gradually be able to persuade my brood to see the benefits of keeping bees for ourselves. Fingers crossed.

*The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black

What is the essence of the book?

The clue is in the name. This is a cookbook containing recipes based around a single ingredient, the humble jar of honey. The first section is a potted guide to the sticky stuff from the A – Z of Honey through to Honey and Health. Eighty delicious recipes follow on from this with suggestions for breakfast dishes through to tea time treats.

About the author

What Hattie Ellis doesn’t know about honey probably isn’t worth knowing. Spoonfuls of Honey is a natural follow on from her in depth look at the history of honey and the honeybee, Sweetness & Light. She also happens to be an acclaimed author and received both the Guild of Food Writers Food Book of the Year and the Miriam Polunin Award Best Book on Healthy Eating in 2013 for What to Eat: 10 Chewy Questions About Food. Spoonfuls of Honey has been shortlisted for the André Simon Book Awards 2014.

Who will like it?

Although this isn’t being marketed as a health book it would probably appeal to anyone looking for alternative, yet natural, sweeteners to sugar (although the recipes in Spoonfuls do not eschew sugar entirely). And of course anyone who adores honey.

Who won’t like it?

The book does contain plenty of savoury recipes but each with a sweet edge to them. Therefore, if you don’t have a sweet tooth then this probably isn’t for you.

What do I like about the book?

I love it’s sense of adventure. The recipes take you on a virtual world tour in a time machine. So you could be reading a recipe for Roman Honey Baked Ham one minute then one for a Roast Grouse with a Honey, Blackberry and Whisky Sauce the next. Hattie has an eloquent way with words so the first section of the book is a particular pleasure to read.

What do I dislike about the book?

I’ve ruminated over this question for a while but honestly I can’t think of anything that I dislike about it. But then I am a bit of a geek when it comes to cookbooks…

Would I cook from it?

Already have. The Honey Cinnamon Buns were a big hit in our house as were the Honey Oat Cookies. The Sweet ’n’ Hot Jerk Chicken Wings are up next closely followed by the fig tart below

Where can you buy it?

Spoonfuls of Honey is currently available on Amazon priced £16.59 (RRP £20)

Fig and Honey Frangipane Tart 

Serves 6 

05.fig and honey tart 2

Ingredients

  • 8 fresh or dried figs (or 4 fresh and 4 dried)
  • 60g/2¼oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp honey (a fragrant heather or greek honey works well), plus 2½ tbsp honey, to glaze
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or rum
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g/1¾oz ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • single cream or custard, to serve
  • pastry
  • 70g/2½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 30g/1oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. First make the pastry. You can do this quickly in a food processor by pulsing the flour, salt and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then adding the egg and pulsing until the dough comes together in a ball, adding a little cold water if necessary. To make the pastry by hand, put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg using a round-bladed knife, adding a little cold water if needed, to bring the dough together into a ball. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. If using dried figs, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes.
  3. Heavily dust a work surface with flour. Dust your rolling pin and the top of the dough and roll out to form a large thin disc, about 25cm/10in in diameter, giving it a quarter-turn every few rolls to keep it even. Use the rolling pin to carefully lift the pastry into a 20cm/8in round loose-bottomed tart tin.
  4. Gently push the pastry into the sides of the tin and trim off the edges. Chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Put a baking sheet into the centre of the oven. You do not precook this pastry and the heat of the baking sheet will help the bottom to cook through.
  6. Mix the butter and honey together using a hand-held electric whisk or a food processor – or by beating thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add the brandy and eggs and stir in well. Fold in the ground almonds and flour. Dollop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pastry case and spread evenly.
  7. Cut the figs in half, removing any stalks, and arrange on top of the frangipane mixture.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn down the oven to 160°C/325°F/ Gas 3 and cook for a further 15–20 minutes. If the pastry looks as if it is burning, cover the edge of the tart with foil. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, gently heat the honey for the glaze. When the tart is slightly cool, remove from the tin and put on a serving plate. Brush the honey generously all over the top to give it a gleaming finish.
  10. Serve warm or cold, with single cream or crème anglaise, flavoured with a touch of brandy, if you like.
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Persimmon, Walnut & Brillat Savarin Salad with a Pomegranate Dressing

Seasonal fruit is a little thin on the ground in Britain during the winter months. It is an austere time of the year when you can be forgiven for looking beyond our shores for a natural sugar hit. Thankfully, our days are brightened by golden globes of various citrus fruit and the lesser appreciated persimmons.

Persimmons in a bowl LRThe persimmons you will most likely find in your neighbourhood supermarket are likely to be the variety grown in Israel. They are also known as Sharon fruit named after the valley in which they grow. These make economical eating (although not in terms of the monetary value ascribed to them) as they can be eaten whole skin, seeds and all. A deep amber in colour they look rather like a sungold cherry tomato on steroids topped with a papery, brown cap. They have a unique flavour but if I were pushed I would say they fall somewhere between a plum and an apricot (although not as juicy as the former).

Their firm texture means they slice well and can easily be incorporated into a salad. I have paired them here with a rich and creamy Brillat Savarin cheese and tossed in some walnuts for added texture. The piquancy of the pomegranate molasses prevents this combination from becoming cloying and the pomegranate seeds are aesthetically pleasing but also add another textural dimension. They’re not essential so leave them out if you like.

Incidentally, a lightly chilled sparkling white or rose wine, such as Ridgeview’s Victoria, is an excellent drinking partner for this dish.

Persimmons & cheese salad LRServes 4 as a light lunch or starter

Ingredients

  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tbsp walnut oil ( or more olive oil)
  • 2tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic crushed with a little sea salt
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 200g Brillat Savarin cheese (not too ripe – it shouldn’t be trying to escape from the fridge) or a mild goats cheese
  • 2-3 ripe persimmons
  • 200g mixed salad leaves
  • 100g walnut pieces (or halves roughly chopped)
  • Pomegranate seeds to garnish (optional – the seeds from one pomegranate should be ample but you can buy pre-packed pomegranate seeds in some supermarkets)

Method

  1. To make the dressing put the oils, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and crushed garlic in a small jar. Replace the lid and shake vigorously until combined. Test a little to check the seasoning. Add salt and pepper according to taste and a pinch of sugar if it’s a little sharp. You can make this up to a day ahead if you like.
  2. For the salad, cut the cheese into 1cm cubes (I don’t bother removing the exterior of the cheese). Wash the persimmons and slice off the end with the stalk then cut into quarters. Cut the quarters into slices (roughly 4-5 per quarter). This stage can be done an hour or two in advance.
  3. Place the salad leaves in a large bowl and pour over 2 – 3tbsp of the well shaken dressing. Toss to coat then divide between 4 shallow bowls or plates. (You can pour the rest of the dressing into a jug and serve separately for those who prefer to drench their salad).
  4. Arrange the persimmon segments in a circular pattern on top of the leaves with the pointed edge facing outwards. In the centre of the fruit circle place some of the cubed cheese. Scatter with walnuts and pomegranate seeds if using. Serve immediately.
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Don’t mention the D word – A review of Gut Gastronomy

We are well and truly ensconced into January now. For most of us the remnants of our Christmas over indulgence (mince pies, cake and alcohol) have disappeared. Your thoughts may be gliding towards eating more healthily or perhaps even a diet.

Diet, closely followed by Detox, are words I have grown to abhor. Diet’s are invariably wacky short term fixes whose results disappear as quickly as a plate of chocolate digestives at a fat fighters meeting. And who seriously enjoys drinking an endless procession of disgustingly gloopy “good for you” juices in an effort to cleanse their digestive system?

That said, there are obvious benefits in eating more healthily particularly after the seasonal excesses of December. When I received the press release regarding Gut Gastronomy I was sufficiently intrigued by the title to find out more about it.

Gut Gastronomy jacket

What is the book about?

In a nutshell, Gut Gastronomy is designed to help revive your digestive system through a series of alterations to your diet, such as the elimination of caffeine, dairy products and alcohol by following a 21 day plan. The aim is to improve your overall health by “cleansing and healing the digestive system to make it more efficient, improving elimination, reducing fluid retention and alleviating bloating and inflammation”.

Crucially it is not a diet book in the common parlance of the word although the authors do claim that the plan can aid in weight loss by improving the function of your gut.

Who wrote the book?

Gut Gastronomy is based on a food plan devised by Elaine Williams and Stephanie Moore of Grayshott Manor (a spa hotel in Surrey). The book has been written by Vicki Edgson, a practising nutritional therapist and Adam Palmer the Consultant Executive Chef at Grayshott Manor.

Who will like it?

Anyone who feels a bit ‘blear’ post Christmas but who doesn’t want to go on an extreme juice diet will probably like this book particularly if you’re a keen cook looking for some healthy, innovative recipes. It will also appeal to you if you have an inkling that you may suffer from a food intolerance which perhaps is preventing you from losing weight.

Who won’t like it?

Coffee addicts and wine connoisseurs will probably take some persuading to follow the plan as caffeine and alcohol are strictly verboten! Vegetarians are unlikely to be wowed by it as most of the everyday recipes contain meat or fish (although there are some lovely veggie based soups like Red Lentil, Apricot & Preserved Lemon). If you dislike cooking with a vengence then this book definitely isn’t for you (the recipes look quite chefy which is not surprising considering one of the authors is a classically trained chef).

What do I like about the book?

This is the kind of cookbook that makes me salivate. The recipes are beautifully photographed, sound delicious and absolutely don’t read like diet recipes. This last point is greatly helped by the fact that no calorie content is listed for each recipe (which granted isn’t going to be very helpful if you are counting the calories). If I’m going to give up my beloved coffee and wine I don’t want to be reminded of the calorific sacrifices I am making to boot! The authors also provide easy to understand explanations for why the gut may be malfunctioning and clearly outline the benefits of the food items you are allowed to eat and the overall tone of the book is not too preachy. The plan also includes an element of fasting which seems a lot more practical than the 5:2 diet (you fast overnight and skip breakfast rather than lunch on two days a week) and there are follow up recipes provided for after you have completed the initial 21 days (see the Pea, Feta and Sesame lollipop recipe below).

What do I dislike about the book?

If you want to follow the plan in Gut Gastronomy to the letter the you need to make sure you have plenty of time on your hands. A lot of the recipes require lengthy preparation such as the fasting broth which literally takes hours to cook. However, many of the recipes can be made in bulk and frozen for use later on, which is a boon.

Some recipes require specialist equipment e.g. a dehydrator like the Beetroot, Horseradish and Seed Crackers although alternative methods for achieving the same results are provided. You’ll also need to invest in some specialist ingredients such as coconut flour which may not be readily available from a supermarket. This could make following the plan an expensive exercise.

Would I cook from it?

Definitely. The recipes sound and look delicious and actually don’t scream abstinence although I would need to make some adjustments to the suggested plan to make it fit into our lifestyle.

Where can you buy it?

Gut Gastronomy officially releases on 15th January and is published by Jacqui Small (@JacquiSmallPub) www.jacquismallpub.com. Available from Amazon price £20.40.

 Pea, feta & sesame lollipops with mint yoghurt sauce

GG_Pea, feta & sesame lollipops

Serves 4

For the lollipops:

  • 250g (8oz/2 cups) cooked garden peas
  • 125g (4oz) feta cheese
  • 10g (½oz) mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 30g (1¼oz/¼ cup) grated Parmesan
  • 2 organic free-range egg yolks
  • ½ tsp chilli powder 30g (1¼oz/¼ cup)
  • gram (chick pea) flour sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • 60g (2½oz) coconut oil

For the radish salad:

  • 1 tsp hazelnut oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp local runny honey
  • 60g (2½oz) radishes, thinly sliced
  • 10 mint leaves, finely shredded

For the mint yoghurt sauce:

  • 100ml (3½fl oz) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • pinch of saffron
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • ½ tsp local runny honey

Use a stick blender to blend the peas, feta cheese, mint, fresh chilli, Parmesan, egg yolks and chilli powder. The mixture does not need to be really smooth – a few lumps are fine. Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the gram flour to tighten up the mixture.

With your hands, roll pieces of the mixture into 8 equal-sized balls. Flatten them a little and skewer with a lollipop stick. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and arrange them on a plate lined with greaseproof paper. Keep in the fridge until ready to cook.

Make the radish salad: whisk together the oil, vinegar and honey to make a dressing for the radishes. Toss lightly with the radishes and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with the shredded mint.

Make the mint yoghurt sauce: gently stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Do not whisk them as the yoghurt will break up and become too runny.

To cook the lollipops, heat the coconut oil in a small pan and then shallow-fry them, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown and hot in the centre. Serve the lollipops on the radish salad with the mint yoghurt sauce in a side dish for dipping.

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Generations – A new Brighton Pop Up

I’m not sure I could cook a meal with either of my sons, even when they’re older (they are only 10 and 7 right now). I’m far too much of a control freak. I’m sure such an event would result in the throwing of insults and food with a few sharp knives thrown in for good measure. It wouldn’t be pretty and I doubt our guests would receive any grub at the end of the debacle.

So in my book Andy and George Lynes are brave men. Father and son will be cooking together for their first pop up as Lynes & Co in Brighton next month. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Lynes & Co, Andy is a Brighton based restaurant critic, author and Masterchef semi-finalist. He’s also one of the founders of the Brighton Food Society. It seems son George shares his father’s affection for food, having began his career as an apprentice chef at Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning The Chilli Pickle in Brighton. He’s also had stints at Maze and Chez Bruce, both in London and the Michelin-starred Curlew in Bodiam.

‘I’ve never cooked with my dad in a professional kitchen, so its going to be an interesting challenge,’ says George. ‘I’m really excited to have this opportunity to present some of my own dishes under my own name for the first time.’

With dishes like ham hock, broad bean and Sussex curd served with scorched beer-pickled onions, warm bacon and mustard emulsion and parsley oil in the offing as part of a four course menu it promises to be a good night. The event, titled ‘Generations’ will take place on 6 February at The Marwood Cafe in Brighton’s Lanes in association with Tabl.com.

Will we witness any explosive tantrums as the Lynes’ boys go head to head in the kitchen? I doubt it but you’ll just have to buy a ticket for the event yourself to be absolutely sure…

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New Year’s Nibbles: Rarebit Gougères

You don’t have to use beer here but it adds a different dimension to these cheesy choux puffs traditionally served with an aperitif in France. You can also vary the cheese you use so long as it is a relatively hard cheese, perhaps utilising the remnants of your Christmas cheese board.

Gougeres LR

This recipe makes around 50 – 60 gougères but they freeze really well.

Ingredients

  • 200g 00 flour or all purpose plain flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 285ml light beer, lager or water
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 100g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 120g mature hard cheese, such as cheddar or comté, finely grated

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220℃ (200℃ fan). Line a couple of baking trays with grease proof paper or baking parchment. Place an empty roasting tin in the bottom of the oven.
  2. Sieve the flour, mustard powder and cayenne pepper onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper.
  3. Put the beer or water, Worcestershire sauce, butter and salt into a large saucepan. Heat until the butter has melted then boil for 1 minute.
  4. Take off the heat then quickly tip all of the flour into the hot liquid. Beat until smooth then return to the heat for a further minute.
  5. Turn the heat off then add the eggs one at a time beating vigorously after each addition to ensure they are fully incorporated. Finally, mix in the grated cheese.
  6. Using a teaspoon place small mounds of the mixture onto the lined baking trays ensuring they are reasonably well spaced apart as they will expand considerably. If you want to be fancy about it you could use two teaspoons to create mini quenelles although they will taste good however they look. When the baking trays are full of cheesy dollops (you may have to repeat this again after the first batch is cooked to finish all off the mixture) pour some boiling water into the empty (and now hot) roasting tin in the bottom of the oven (the steam will help the choux to rise). Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. These are best served warm but can be frozen and reheated at 150℃ in this state for 5 – 10 minutes.
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New Year’s Nibbles: Real Mince Pies

I imagine it’s common knowledge that the original mince pies, favoured by us Brits at Christmas time, contained meat. What surprises me is that we don’t combine the sweet, spicy dried fruit filling with meat anymore. It actually works really well (think more of a middle eastern tagine flavour rather than a dessert or cake) and is a great way to use up any leftover mincemeat you have lurking in the cupboard. I also think suet pastry is also over looked. It’s possibly the easiest pastry to make as there is no rubbing in involved and it is deliciously crisp when cooked. If you really can’t stand to make the pastry yourself then use a 500g block of puff pastry instead.

Mince pies with port LR

Makes 12 – 16 mini mince pies

Ingredients

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 100g suet
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ finely ground black pepper
  • 4-6 tbsp cold water
  • ½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small or ½ medium onion finely chopped
  • 200g minced lamb or beef
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 heaped tbsp (about 75g) mincemeat
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 1 beaten egg to glaze

Method

  1. To make the pastry: Mix the flour, suet, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add 4 tbsp cold water and mix until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Leave to one side while you make the filling.
  2. To make the filling: Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Fry the onion until it is starting to turn golden then add the minced lamb or beef and cook until browned.
  3. Add the cumin and mincemeat. Cook for a minute or so before adding the wine. Reduce the heat and allow to gently bubble away until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper then transfer to a bowl until ready to use.
  4. To assemble the pies: Preheat the oven to 200℃. Roll out the pastry on a floured board until it is around 3mm thick. Using a 6cm fluted cutter for the base of the pies and a 4cm fluted cutter for the tops cut 12-16 rounds of each (you may need to roll the pastry remnants out again to get the correct number of tops and bottoms).
  5. Place the larger circles in a mini muffin tin then place a teaspoon of the filling in each. Brush the underside of the tops with water then place on top of the filling gently pressing along the rim of the pie to seal the top and bottom together. Make a small hole in the top of each pie to allow the steam to escape. Glaze with beaten egg and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Best served warm but will also freeze when cool. Reheat from frozen at 150℃ for 8-12 minutes.

Mince pies LR

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Recipes from and Unknown Kitchen: Book Review

Tucked away inside an 1894 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book is one of my most prized possessions. It is a delicate, hand bound Almanac for 1871 containing number of cake recipes (which incidentally are little more than lists of ingredients). Some of the text on the front cover has been crossed out but two names remain just about legible: Eliza Anna Anderson and Emma Reader. The latter was my grandmother’s great aunt. Underneath the Eliza’s name it proudly proclaims that it is her “Own Book”. It is my theory that both of these ladies contributed to this book out of a desire to keep the recipes for posterity (although nobody in the family in entirely sure).

E Anderson Cookbook 1 LR

While accusations are frequently slung by social commentators about our fascination with cookbooks in an age where nobody either wants to or is able to cook (supposedly), it’s reassuring to know that cooking intrigued some of our ancestors long before television and social media came to rule the roost. For centuries we have been noting down recipes. Sometimes this has been a record of a recipe previously handed down by word of mouth perhaps by a relative or friend. Other times it may merely have been a quick jotting down of an adjustment to a recipe in an existing cookery book or maybe at the back in its notes section (something you rarely see in todays cookery tomes). During the 20th century as recipes began to appear in magazines these may have been torn out and kept to be made again one day.

E Anderson Cookbook 2 LR

As a cookbook collector, Rita Godfrey, has been privy to many of these culinary secrets. She has gathered some of the recipes she has come across in a new book called Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen. As she says on the back cover

“There is a great joy in finding an old recipe that someone has jotted down and in trying it out – even more in tasting the results.”

IMG_0729

The book is a potted history through 200 years of our culinary history as recorded by regular people who presumably enjoyed these recipes so much that they were driven to write them down. Each section covers a specific period of time and is prefaced with a little bit of kitchen history to put them into context. It’s true that the book is not as slickly produced as other cookery books but this is of no consequence (I think sometimes too much emphasis is placed in food photography, as lovely as it can be. After all, right up until the mid to late 20th century it was rare to have a the obligatory food porn shot for every recipe we have come to expect these days). I love the fact that Rita provides a brief introduction to each recipe such as the explanation of what a flummery is (apparently the word could have derived from a Welsh word meaning empty nonsense). The book makes fun reading and those that I have tried delicious eating (spiced treacle scones – great with toasted cheese on top. Strange but true!).

The recipe I have chosen to reproduce here is for salad cream. I know it’s not a salad time of year but it seemed apt given that it is 100 years since Heinz introduced salad cream to the UK market. Reading around this product’s history I discovered that salad cream was considered to be the very down market (i.e. working class) cousin to mayonnaise. I found this strange as I always thought it added a rather sophisticated element to the classic egg and cress sandwich when I was a child (read into this what you will…). Anyway, I’ve also provided my favourite way to make an egg sandwich just to prove that it can be classy when made with salad cream.

Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen by Rita Godfrey (£12.99)

Salad Cream

Salad Cream LR

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp mustard (I used Coleman’s mustard powder)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 heaped tsp corn flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150ml cream

Method

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients then add the egg yolks.
  2. Put into a food processor and add water and vinegar gradually to make a smooth mix then add the olive oil.
  3. Pour into a pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly until it forms a thick sauce.
  4. Cool then stir in the cream. Transfer to a sealable bottle with a wide neck. Despite the addition of cream it will keep in the fridge for up to six months.

Egg Salad Cream Sandwich LR

To make my favourite egg sandwich mix 1 – 2 chopped hard boiled or scrambled eggs with 1 – 3 dessert spoons of salad cream (depending on how hungry you are!). Add to this 3 – 4 sun dried tomato halves which have been finely chopped and mix together. Put a layer of fresh baby spinach leaves onto a slice of bread (my favourite for this filling is ciabatta) the spoon the egg mix over the top. This is quite messy to eat but oh so delicious!

You may also want to try salad cream in a fish finger sandwich like Daniel from Young & Foodish.

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Medlar Tart & Spiced Medlar Vinegar

There has been a lot of interest in my earlier posts about medlars so I thought it was about time I came up with some more recipes using this unusual fruit.

I frequently get asked how to make medlar vinegar. If you don’t live in Sussex then you may find sourcing the fine flavoured vinegars (such as medlar vinegar) produced by Stratta difficult so I have posted a recipe for a simple spiced medlar vinegar below.

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a medlar tart for a while. It struck me that the consistency of bletted medlars is not dissimilar to that of pumpkin so I have taken my inspiration from America pumpkin pie. It seems particularly apt to post this recipe today as it is Thanksgiving in the USA.

If you need help in preparing your medlars take a look at my earlier post here.

Medlar Tart

Medlar Tart LR

Ingredients

  • 320g pack ready rolled sweet short crust pastry (or make your own)
  • 400g medlar puree
  • 397g tin condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 25g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200℃.
  2. Line a 22-23cm deep tart tin with the pastry. Prick the base then line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven (also remove the baking beans and paper) and reduce the temperature to 170℃.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a large jug. Pour into the pre-baked case and bake for a further 40 minutes until set. Best served at room temperature or cold.

Spiced Medlar Vinegar

Makes approximately 4 x 350ml bottles

Medlar Vinegar LR

I used the pulp left over from pureeing the medlars for the recipe above. However, you can use whole bletted medlars for this recipe. Just lightly squash them before you add the remaining ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 600-700g medlar pulp or the equivalent weight of whole bletted medlars
  • 1 litre white wine vinegar
  • 450 – 750g granulated sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 10cm piece cinnamon stick

Method

  • Steep the medlars in the vinegar for 3 to 5 days in a non metallic container. Pour the contents into a jelly bag and allow to drain. This will take several hours so leave overnight if possible. DO NOT SQUEEZE the bag to get more liquid out otherwise your vinegar will be cloudy.
  • For every 600ml vinegar add 450g sugar (basically you need 75% sugar to the quantity of vinegar). Put the vinegar, sugar and spices in a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil then simmer for around 5 minutes removing any scum that floats to the surface. Allow to cool then remove the spices and bottle. Use for salad dressings.

Other Medlar recipes you may enjoy

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