Thursday, November 15, 2007

#12 Orange Fool


Not sure if I made it properly to be honest; tasty though it was. It's like no fool I've ever heard of. A fool is normally pureed fruit stirred into whipped cream. Not this one, this one’s more like a custard.

Mix three large eggs with half a pint of double cream, two ounces of sugar and the juice of three oranges in a basin along with some ground cinnamon and nutmeg until very thick. Place the basin over a pan of simmering water and whisk until it has thickened. After stirring it for about 15 minutes, I realised it as never going to become even a little bit thick! Oh dear. I soldiered on - the Grigson Padawan always ensures that the show still goes on. Poured it into wine glasses for that 70s kitschness. Top with candied peel and a sprinkle of orange flower water. The delicately perfume flower water made the whole dish very exotic, and although the fool wasn't (in my humble opinion) a fool, or thick. It was pretty special. Very rich and creamy, but the acidic orange juice that cut through the richness allowed you to keep on eating!!

Simon says:
For dessert an orange fool was served up. It did not last long for no sooner was it tasted than it was finished. Sweet and rich, smooth and thick, the glasses were licked clean. 8/10

Then we got pissed in Levy with a dinner lady and her god-awful son. Woo hoo!

I say:
#12 Orange Fool: 7/10. I cocked it up, but not even I can totally spoil a Grigson pud!

#11 Braised Beef with Carrots

Second course. This one couldn't be simpler either - all you need is time...and thyme too.

I got a piece of brisket from Savin Hill Farm (, who have a stall from the farmers' market in Manchester. Brown it in lard and put it into a flameproof casserole. Add loads of sliced carrots, and inch or two's depth of chicken stock and a big sprig of thyme. Cook on a very low heat, topping-up the stock and adding more carrots for about 2 hours. I served it, as the Grigson recommends, with boiled potatoes. I have to say, I'm going to have to give this one mixed reviews. The carrots cooked with the beef and in the thymey stock were beautifully tender. The beef itself was extremely tasty;! When I bought it, it was a deep red colour with a little bit of marbling. I don't think I've actually cooked brisket before, and tasty though it was, some of it was pretty tough. The Grigson did say you could use the more expensive cut, silverside. Perhaps I should've. I'm sure it wasn't down to Savin Hill's produce. FYI: rolled brisket is the strip of muscle from the breast of the cow rolled up. It is one of the 8 primal cuts of meat. I found out that apparently you've to cook it fat facing upwards to make it lovely and tender. Oh well - next time it'll be better!

Simon says:
A main course of beef with carrots was greedily consumed. The carrots were outstanding, cooked in the meat stock and packed full of thyme flavour. The beef was tasty but rather tough in parts: questions were raised over Grigson's suggested cut for the dish. Served with good peas and spuds. 6/10

I say:
#11 Braised Beef with Carrots: 6/10. I agree with Mr. Simon on this one. Have a feeling it may be my naive beef cookery!

#10 To Make a Nice Whet Before Dinner

Yes, you heard! It's from 1769, you know.

Simon came over and I did a 3 courser and this was the starter! Fried bread (in butter!), anchovy fillet, then grilled with a shed-load of Cheshire cheese on the top. That's it. Quite possibly one of the most delicious (and fattening) morsels I've ever had - I know I keep saying these things on the blog...

Simon says:
The starters was as delicious as it was unhealthy. Butter-fried bread with anchovy fillet and Cheshire cheese. So simple, so tasty. We were drinking red wine but this dish would make a fine accompanyment to a good beer. 9/10

I say:

#10 To make a Nice Whet Before Dinner: 10/10. Delicious, simple, what can I say?? I'd eat it every day if my arteries could cope!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A note on meat...

As well as trying to get to the bottom of what English Food actually is and perhaps discovering some lost foods, it's also important that the food is as close to how it should be eaten. What do I mean by that? I mean the meat, eggs, etc. should come from good quality, healthy, free-range animals. This does of course mean that things are rather more expensive that if I'd go to the supermarket and buy those alarmingly white chicken breasts or surprisingly bright blood red pieces of meat in plastic boxes. However to do the English thing, animals will be eaten, so it is important that they were at least happy. Of course healthy animals with no stress hormones or antibiotics running through their veins are tastier. So I shall get meat, poultry and game from reputable butchers and farms (and fishmongers of course). I will give out their details, like websites, etc., as I go.

#9 Manchester Pudding

First of all I'd like to apologise for the time lapse between making some food and then blogging it! I'm busy! busy! busy! these days. Anyway. I did #9 Manchester Pudding last Thursday as Joff was coming round. Me and Greg cooked a store-cupboard style tea so I thought I'd do a pud that seemed straight-forward enough. On the bus home I flicked through the tome and saw Manchester Pudding. I should have cooked it first, being in Manchester! I'd had Manchester tart before - shortcrust pastry, a thin layer of jam, then thick custard to the brim and sprinkled with dessicated coconut. This pudding was sort of similar:

Line an eight or nine inch tart tin with some puff pastry and spread it with either greengage, strawberry or apricot jam (I went for strawberry). Next put ½ pint of full fat milk into a pan with the pared rind of a lemon and two ounces of white breadcrumbs. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the lemon rind and stir in two ounces each of butter and caster sugar, 2 egg yolks and two tablespoons of brandy. Pour into the pastry case bake for around 30 minutes at 180⁰C until almost set. Meanwhile whisk two egg whites until they’ve got to the stiff-peak stage and spread them smoothly over the tart. Sprinkle over a tablespoon of caser sugar and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes until the whites have turned golden brown. Serve warm.

It was lovely! We scoffed the whole thing between the three of us - so quick, in fact, I couldn't take a photo of it's innards! It was proper poor people's food made slightly posh with the addition of meringue and brandy.

Greg says:
See I reckon there is a difference between Manc tart and Manc Pudding, to me the tart has to have coconut on top as Char mentioned. Regardless, the pudding was amazing! When it came out of the oven after the first baking it was completely alive! It breathed and pulsated like something from Dr Who. Basically it was a textbook dish, and felt quintessentially English too I thought, it had swollen to twice the original size after the second baking and we demolished it quick sharp with knives and spoons, dry-humping accordingly. Neil let me put the jam on so the jam was the best bit. 8/10

I say:
#9 Manchester Pudding: 8/10. Can't knock it really! I'd give it more but I reckon there's better ones out there!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

#8 Chocolate Pie

The first Grigson for a bit. Although it's no excuse I've been rather busy doing a PhD. I did the pie for dessert at Greg's auntie's. It was great to be baking again. My mum used to be a baker and me and my brother spent many an afternoon when we were little 'helping' mum make crumbles, turnovers and all sorts of stuff. As a grown-up, I find it extremely relaxing and therapeutic doing some baking as it takes me right back to those times. Anyway, enough of this schmaltz...

#7 Chocolate pie - a crust make from ground almonds, sugar and egg white blind-baked in the oven; an eighteenth century recipe apparently. Fill it with a ganache - nineteenth century recipe - top with sweetened whipped cream laced with rum. If I wasn't following the recipes exactly, I would have missed out the rum - I'm not a fan of spirits in sweets. I'm glad I did though - I used dark rum (she didn't say which type to use) and it was absolutely gorgeous! It was the richest dessert I think I've ever had. I'm writing this 4 days after making and eating it and I still feel pleasantly nauseous. My tastes are obviously changing; think I'll put alcohol in everything. Gin and apple crumble or sambuca trifle anyone!?

Here's what Greg says:
Chocolate pie chocolate pie! This is the best thing he's made so far hands down. Dark chocolate, cream, booze, icing sugar sugar, almonds, it's all your favourite things in one giant ganache of nauseating lurve. Despite what the book says about eat within one hour, we had some the next day and it had settled into a firmer lush cheesecake-like texture and was divine so don't feel duty-bound to wolf the whole thing at once, not hat you could, it's VERY rich. Sounds fairly easy to make but looks so impressive. Pics to follow. Yummmm. 5/5.

#8 Chocolate Pie: 4.5/5 - it's got all the essential ingredients: crispy, nutty crust, loads of chocolate and a pint of cream. The best chocolate dessert I've had for ages - and that includes restaurants!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Obviously this is not English Cookery at all! But it is one of the things I do off the top of head these days as I've cooked so many times. I'd like to point out that whenever I've had a ratatouille made for me it's always been rather insipid, watery and tasteless, but yet I've understood this because I love all the ingredients. It turns out that a ratatouille shouldn't be all watery; like you get in those nasty tins, but silky and unctuous and oily where the sauce is made up of condensed tomato flavour, broken-down aubergines and olive oil- at least in the Nicoise style. Hopefully, if you cook this I'm sure you'll agree that it's the best ratatouille you've ever had! Now that is a grand claim!!

You will need:
1 large aubergine, sliced into 1/2 centimetre slices
1 large courgette (or 2 small), sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tin of tomatoes, opened
1 big tbs of tomato puree
6 tbs good olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt, pepper

  1. In a large pan, heat the oil until under a high heat and fry the aubergine slices on both sides until golden brown (you may have to do this in batches, unless you're pan is huge!)
  2. Reserve the aubergine slices. Turn the heat down and fry the onion and pepper, add more oil if the aubergine absorbed it all. Add the herbs. When the onions are slightly softened, stir the aubergine slices back in along with the garlic. Fry gently - but don't colour the onion- for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes and puree and simmer slowly for at least 10 minutes, but 15 or 20 is best, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the aubergine's break-down. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. If it was me, I'd serve it with either sliced corned beef or scrambled eggs along with some crusty bread and butter.
  5. Enjoy!

October - Lest We Forget

Well wasn't October a total let-down re: Grigson. I can only apologise. However, November is going to be a totally different story. I intend to fill my freezer with Grigson goodies, so expect lots of soups and casseroles. Yum! Also I intend to do to the wonderful Bury Market and stock-up on some game. PLus the plan for Christmas needs to get underway. I will be doing a recipe on Sunday as I'm off round to Greg's auntie and uncle's - Dee and John - along with his sis. I shall be doing the pud, #7 Chocolate Pie! Yum!!

However - I do have some of my own recipes to share with you, if you,re in any way interested...!