Welcome!


This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.


Monday, 21 August 2017

Village Show



On Sunday our tiny village hall came to life for the Annual Village Show.  After months of meetings and trying to generate some interest, it finally all came together and the tables were filled with fruit, vegetables, cakes, jam, pickles, craft works, photography and fabulous flower displays.

What a relief.

It is one of those quintessentially English events where outwardly calm facades hide those deeply competitive streaks.    Many of the village people have nothing to do with the event, so thank goodness we have some fabulous people who do take the time and trouble to grow, make, bake, jam, pickle and create things for the show.



One year we had the infamous 'Sconegate' incident... involving a judge firmly rooted in WI standards and our fabulous local foodblogger, Dom of belleaukitchen.com, who had baked the most sumptuous and beautiful scones - alas, he had baked them man-sized - and they were therefore demoted because of this.  This led to murmurings of witchcraft and/or skulduggery of some kind and there has never since been a 'Scone' class...

How much poorer our village would be without his wonderful support and participation.

This year it was especially difficult to keep things going because our committee numbers are so depleted.   Fortunately, on the day, several people who had not been able to help with the preparations turned out to help with the general work of selling tickets, filling in forms and helping with the refreshments.  Phew!

The doors were closed at 11am, the judges had arrived and they took their work very seriously indeed.   Jams and pickles were tasted, salad dressings, ditto.  Cakes were cut and nibbled, notes made.  Bread was sawn open and prodded, poked and sampled.  Judgement made, the certificates were filled in and best of category selected.

By 2pm the work of judging had been completed, so had the paperwork, and the doors were opened.  In rushed the crowd to scan for prizes, assess the judging, cakes and tea were consumed and raffle tickets drawn.

It was fun!

Without events like this, which do take a lot of work, but which draw a community together, the village would be a much duller place.     People come together and have fun, they sit and drink tea, chat and wait for the awards and raffle.

They turned out and they participated and the hall was buzzing with conversation and fun.

The tradition of the Village Show has been maintained.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Boodle's Club Cake Good.


I should state here and now that brandy has nothing whatsoever to do with this recipe!

I was just trying  to convey a sense of Boodle's Club, which is a private Gentlemen's Club and the second oldest club in the world.   It was founded in 1762 and has had some illustrious members.   Membership is strictly by nomination and election - no riff-raff allowed!

I can, however, bring you a recipe for their special fruit cake.




I took delivery of this old, 1930's recipe book, yesterday morning - Caviare to Candy by Mrs Philip Martineau.

It is the kind I book I love - lots of recipes which don't call for a million ingredients, minimal instructions and few illustrations.   You have to rely on your back knowledge and instincts.  I don't always get it right, but it does make baking fun.

I was drawn to 'Boddle's Club Cake' first of all because the name appealed to me - but mainly because the word 'Good' had been written next to it.

That is another thing I like about these old books, the notes, the splashes, the evidence of years of use.

A cake was required for the weekend - my choice was made for me.

"One pound of flour, half a pound of butter or margarine, half a pound of Demerara sugar, half a pound of raisins, two eggs, one and a half teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda, one gill of milk.

Beat butter and sugar together, then the eggs, chop raisins (I didn't) and mix with flour, stir in gradually; dissolve soda in the warm milk and beat all well together.   Bake in a moderate oven for two and three-quarter hours.  (Very good.)"




What a wonderful cake!   It is a light fruited sponge cake, but with a sort of butterscotch/caramel flavour.   It goes perfectly with a cup of tea - no brandy was consumed - I was still playing with the Gentlemen's club theme when I took the photographs.

The family loved it.

I loved it.

This has gone straight to the top of my 'easy bakes' list.




You can now find me on Instagram as parsonage_cottage_kitchen.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Cheese and Olive Bread



This is a bit fancier than the bread which I normally bake, but it turned out to be a really easy recipe to follow and the resulting bread was delicious - crisp, flaky outer shell with cheese and olive filling - think a very large, crisper, savoury croissant and you are almost there.  

Delicious warm/hot straight from the oven, or reheat later.

9 oz bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 sachet yeast
3 1/2 fl oz hand-hot milk
1 egg, beaten
2 oz butter, chilled and cut into very small cubes

FILLING
2 oz stoned olives, sliced
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix together the beaten egg and warmed milk and then add them to the dry ingredients.   Turn the dough on to a board and knead until smooth and elastic.     (Compared to the vast batches of bread which I normally make this was a tiny amount and I found it a joy to knead such a small quantity!)

Place in a clean, greased bowl and cover.  Leave to double in size - about 30-40 minutes, depends how warm your kitchen is.

Turn the dough out and roll into a 6x12 inch rectangle.    Dot the bottom two-thirds of the dough with half the butter.   Fold the top third down over the centre third and then the bottom third up.  Seal the edges.   (All much easier than it sounds.)
Place the dough on a plate and chill for about 20 minutes.


Mix together the filling ingredients, save a little egg for glazing.
Roll the dough out into an oblong about 8x12 inches.   Spread the filling over the surface.  Roll along the long side, like a Swiss roll.   Shape into a ring.  Mine was more like a horseshoe, but never mind!
Place on a greased baking sheet.  Make a series of cuts around the ring, brush with beaten egg.   Leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

Plae in a preheated oven 220C/fan oven 200C or gas mark 7.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and wait for the gannets to descend.


I found the recipe in a WI book - Best-kept Secrets of the WI.

The outer bread case was crisp and flaky, the filling was like a savoury croissant.    When I make it next time I'll use a more mature cheese for a stronger flavour, but that is down to personal taste.   The grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed it, even if one did pick out all the olives.





Saturday, 13 May 2017

Chocolate and Rhubarb Tart

Chocolate pastry with a layer of chocolate custard topped with rhubarb which has been gently poached in red berry coulis.


I served it with an extra portion of the berry coulis - sharp, tangy, and delicious.   

Indulgent?  Yes!   

Sweet chocolate and tangy fruits, unctuous custard over a lovely crisp pastry base.   If you are not so keen on the sharper notes just add more sugar to the fruit.

I used a Victorian recipe for the pastry.   I am tweaking the balance of ingredients at the moment because I found it very difficult to handle.    Once I have it perfected I will post it here.     This pastry makes the most delicious and crisp base for a tart or pie.

Make a thick chocolate custard and spread it on the base of the baked pastry shell, top it with the poached rhubarb and add a little of the red berry coulis.    Chill.  Serve with extra red berry coulis.  Simple!

Because I made this up as I went along, I haven't got any accurate weights and quantities to share with you, next time I make it I will take note.

I used two sticks of rhubarb, washed, trimmed, stringy bits removed, sliced about half an inch thick and very gently poached in red berry coulis.

The coulis was simply made with some red berries from the freezer, I defrosted them and then gently heated them in a saucepan, along with a dessertspoonful of dark brown sugar.     I just let them do their own thing on the slow plate of the Rayburn, so the heat was very gentle.

Push the berries through a sieve and discard the seeds.   The resulting coulis didn't look quite enough to poach the rhubarb in, so I added a small glug of blackcurrant juice and then tumbled the rhubarb into the pan and left them to slowly and very gently poach.  The key to this is a really low heat.   The rhubarb will cook through but will also keep its shape and take on the most beautiful ruby red colour.

Pile the cooled rhubarb on top of the custard, pour over a little of the coulis.   

Chill the tart for an hour or so and then enjoy those taste and texture sensations!








Saturday, 22 April 2017

Stuffed Monkey

Stuffed Monkey - how could I resist?
I found the recipe in 'English Food' by Jane Grigson, 1974.
My initial reaction was to wonder what on earth such
a recipe could be doing in the 'Teatime' section
along with cakes, scones, bread and buns.


Rest assured, no monkey was harmed in the making of this dish.

It is something of a mystery as to how it got such a name.
Jane Grigson got the recipe from a Jewish Cookbook
written by Florence Greenberg.



My interest was piqued, not least by the unusual name
and
also by the apparent simplicity of the dish.


Recipe

6 oz flour
Half tsp cinnamon
4 oz butter
4 oz soft brown sugar
1 egg, separated

Make a dough with the flour, cinnamon, butter, sugar and egg yolk, mix it as though making pastry.
Roll it out and cut into two rounds to fit into an 8 inch cake tin.
Fit the first round into the buttered tin.


1 1/2 oz butter
2 oz chopped peel
1 oz caster sugar
2 oz ground almonds
1 egg yolk

Melt the butter and then beat in all the other ingredients.
Spread the mixture over the pastry.
Cover with the second round.
Tuck the edges in neatly.
Brush with the egg white.
Bake at 190 C/375F for about 30 minutes.
Cool in the tin and then turn out carefully.



The outer case is crisp and flavoursome while the filling is almost marzipan-like,
 very dense, rich.
It is a fabulous teatime treat
or
a coffee-time treat.
Any time treat.
Indulge yourself!

Easy to make.
Stores well.
Tastes delicious.
Excellent!




Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Herb Pudding for Spring

This first pudding was traditionally made in Staveley Village, in Westmorland - the North West of England.    It can only be made in Spring, when the nettles are young and tender and when wild green herbs grow in abundance.

You will need:

Any kind of edible young green herbs, wild ones
such as Easter ledges (none available around here, I used wild garlic instead)
young nettle tops (wear rubber gloves!)
young dandelion leaves
lady's mantle (alchemilla)
or your choice of spring herbs - several handfuls.
One hard-boiled egg
One raw egg
Half an ounce of butter
pepper and salt.



We have lots of nettles, plenty of dandelions, lady's mantle, wild garlic and chives, so that's what I settled for.   Easier said than done, though.  

The first problem I encountered was that of finding enough young dandelion leaves, preferably located in places where the dog could not possibly have lifted his leg...     The nettles came from Owl Wood and so did the wild garlic.    Lady's mantle came from where the old summerhouse was located and the chives from the herb garden.

Wash them thoroughly!    Really thoroughly, it is amazing what comes out of those greens.    I'm squeamish, I know, but I also know what runs around our gardens and the woods at night time.    Just saying!

Put the greens into boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.

Drain.    I drained and squeezed until the greens looked like dry boiled spinach.   (I should have squeezed a third or fourth time, for I ended up with a small puddle around the pudding.)   Then chop the leaves and add the finely chopped boiled egg.

Next, add the beaten egg, the butter and seasoning.

Return the whole to the pan and cook through briefly.

Put the (tiny) mixture into a hot pudding basin to shape it, then turn it out and serve.


I popped a wild garlic flower on top for decoration.       You can see that pesky liquid around the base.


Taste test:   Surprisingly delicious!
Would I make it again - Yes, I probably would.




Another Herb Pudding,   this one comes from a different Westmorland village,  Burnside.

The basics are the the same, but you leave out the raw egg and add a couple of tablespoons of boiled barley.



I am a fan of pearl barley, I like it in soups and I liked the addition to this pudding.   It just added a little more body to the dish.   Less juice dribbled out of this one, I had almost wrung it out sufficiently!


The dish is really intended to be served as a side dish to meat.
The recipe came from Florence White's book - Good things in England (1932)


Playtime over, I got down to the real business of the day...



Four individual apple crumbles and a loaf of no-knead bread.
x

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Baking and Cooking

It has been a busy time, here in Parsonage Cottage Kitchen.
Lots of cooking and baking, virtually no photographs because I was too busy.
This one more than makes up for it, for me.


Young Merry made a batch of koulourakia, Greek biscuits.   Thanks, Linda.   They were enormous fun to make and were enjoyed by all the visitors.

I set aside my personal scruples, roasted a large ham.   I made sure that it was British and outdoor reared, I had to at least have the consolation that the poor pig had had some quality of life.    I also roasted a large chicken - free range, of course.   That was the less than pleasant stuff out of the way.


Baking:

A very large quiche, mushroom, wild garlic and cheese.
A vast Lemon Meringue Pie
Chocolate Cake, with frosting.
Carrot Cake
Two varieties of bread
Hot Cross Buns
Koulourakia
Shortbread




Roast Ham
Roast Chicken
Tabbouleh
Mixed Salads
Boiled New Potatoes with Mint, Butter and Sea Salt
Crudites and Hummus

plus all the things which I bought rather than made - cheeses(!) ice cream, pickles, etc, etc.


We were feeding all three of our adult children, their partners and children.   The party was twelve in number and food disappeared at a rate of knots.   Even so,  there was plenty left over.

I made sure that they all took parcels of their favourite left overs, but there is still a fridge full of deliciousness.   No need for me to cook or shop for quite a while yet.

I need to lie down in a darkened room to recover.
x

p.s.  Everyone sends their love, Ian.   They wanted to know about the boat and your adventures!xx