Thursday, December 20, 2007

#20 Quince Vodka (Part I)

My second quince recipe. All very easy. Grate two Quinces. Put in a 1 litre jar along with 2 ounces of sugar. Top up with vodka. Leave for 2 months. I have no idea what it'll be like. I'll do a more throrough report in February!
Greg says:
Re the quince vodka, I will update you on it's progress weekly as I will be unable to keep my ahnds off the jar for 2 months. Also, I am probably shortly retiring from Grigson life, partly because I can't fit into my Levi drainpipes any more and partly because the veggie selection is drying up. Carnivores, it's over to you . . .

#18 Marzipan, #19 Royal Icing

Finished off the cake yesterday, and it looks as though it is a success. It was all pretty straight-forward really.

First (#18) Marzipan; sieve 8 ounces of icing sugar into a large bowl containing a pound of ground almonds. In a small bowl, beat an egg with 3 or 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Use a wooden spoon or the beater attachment on a food mixer to form a paste. Use a knife to cut off the top of the Christmas Cake so that it is nice and flat on top. Knead the marzipan a little while and then roll two thirds out using icing sugar instead of flour to form a top circle, gluing it in place with some warmed apricot jam. The Grigson gave a handy hint at this point – roll everything out on a bit of greaseproof paper to prevent it sticking and falling to bits. She is a star! Now roll out an oblong of marzipan to wrap around the cake, again sticking it with apricot jam.

FYI: Marzipan originated in Persia (now Iran/Iraq), but its name originates from the German for 'March bread'.

(#19) Royal Icing was quite exciting to do; whip two egg whites until foamy but not stiff. Stir in two teaspoons of lemon juice and then, bit by bit, sieved icing sugar until a glossy spreadable icing is formed. Spread it over the marzipan using a palette knife, dipping the knife in water to prevent the icing from sticking. I have no piping bags - nor have I ever used one - so I did a lovely festive snow effect by gently whacking it with a palette knife! It looks very impressive even if I do say so myself. I forgot to buy decorations though! Poo!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

#17 Quince Cream

Found a couple of quince recipes. The first is (#17) Quince Cream. Seemed easy enough. In reality it was a massive ball-ache. The quince is one of my favorite fruits - I don't know why they aren't sold in more greengrocers or supermarkets. It may be that you have to cook them to eat them. They combine the best of apples and pears and go a beautiful golden-orange colour when cooked. They were used in medieval times as a jam or jelly - the word marmalade comes from the French (I think) for quince! Weird to think of our lovely English marmalade wasn't made from Seville oranges (which are Spanish). Anyway. It all seemed like it would be easy. Chop up two quinces, add a little water, and stew until soft. Push through sieve. Add cream melted butter, an appropriate spice said the Grigson, so I used cinnamon. Add sugar to taste, plus egg yolks to thicken. I took about an hour and a half to sieve the fucker! I broke one sieve in the process too. Next time I'll use one of the alternative fruit suggested.

Luckily for the Grigson it tasted nice! It was creamy but light. I'm going to have to try and reduce the amount of cream and butter in my diet though! I can feel my arteries harden as I type!
Greg says:
Quince Cream - The smell of quince is a joy and something brand new to me. This dish was lovely, another heart attack masquerading as 'fruit' but it was quite noisy during the preparation thereof, I couldn't hear The Simpsons and had to close the door while Neil scraped away at boiled fruit in the next room. Hush please! It was sloppy and fruity and rich but when I attempted to eat more the following day it had become porridge so I don't care what she says, eat it all on the day! 7/10.

#17 Quince Cream - 7.5/10. Anything with quince is OK by me! I'm starting to get sick of all these calories though!

#16 Palastine Soup

OK. Something with Jerusalem artichokes...
...(#16) Palestine soup. Brilliant. FYI Jerusalem artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem or artichokes. It was thought that they tasted similar to artichokes, but I don't think they do. Jerusalem is a corruption of the word Girasole, which is the Italian for sunflower. (I used to grow them in the garden of my old house, and their flowers are like tiny sunflowers.) They are a much under used vegetable - at one point, before the domestication of the potato, it was attempted to make the Jerusalem artichoke a staple crop. It was considered too strong in flavour, and what a shame!

The soup was pretty easy; start by blanching a pound of Jerusalem artichokes in boiling salted water so that the knobbly skins can be peeled away. Place the peeled artichokes in the cooking water to prevent them discolouring. Meanwhile, gently cook 4 ounces of chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove and an ounce of chopped celery. When soft, add two rashers of streaky bacon and then after two minutes add the artichokes and 2 ½ pints of chicken stock. Simmer until the artichokes are tender then blitz. Finally stir in two ounces (!) of double cream and two tablespoons of chopped parsley. And then serve, under the strict Grigson rules, with croutons. It made a lovely soup - really brought out the earthy flavour of the Jerusalem artichokes. It's the best Grigson soup so far. I made a veggie version for Greg too using veggie bacon (!) and vegetable stock. It tasted as good as mine.

Greg says:
Palestine soup - This is my fave recipe to date I think. I had the girl version which Neil made in a separate pan using veg stock instead of chicken stock and veggie bacon instead of real piggy which meant my soup went a litle bit pink due to the colouring and smelt more like bacon than the real stuff! It was clearly the better of the two though possibly not admissbale under the strict Grigson regime. Anyways, the smoky bacony flavour together with the cream and that very specific Jersualem artichoke flavour was honestly amazing, if I'd had it in a restauarnt I would have been supremely chuffed. The croutons were alright but I could live without em, the fresh parsley is garnish enough. Wonderful . 9/10.

#16 Palestine Soup - 8.5/10. A brilliant winter-warmer! It should be part of everyone's repertoire!
Went on a lovely trip to Unicorn in Chorlton (, Manchester the other day to see if they had fresh yeast and they did. Hurray; I thought it would be a nightmare getting hold of it. Whilst I was there I saw loads of seasonal stuff - it's all lovely and local and organic there too - so I stocked up on Jerusalem artichokes and quinces. I also notice they had Seville oranges there too. I plan to make proper marmalade in the new year and people are sending me empty jars to fill. I would've been fucked if I couldn't get them - they only have a one month season so I would've had to wait a whole year to start tracking them down again. Now I've to find some Grigson recipes with Jerusalem artichokes and quinces. I know that there are some. Also is the plural of 'quince' 'quince' or 'quinces'? Does it actually matter? No.

I am blabbering now - pleased to have cocked up my experiments. Which means I can go home and finish my Christmas Cake. Yum!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bah Humbug!

I'm getting really sick and tired of all the deadlines and seminars and stuff at work. It's getting me down a bit, and I don't feel in the Christmas spirit at all! My viva is tomorrow and there's a conference tomorrow, but after this week it'll all be over. Then I can get all Christmassy and start thinking about the yummy Xmas food I can make from the Grigson. I've missed a load of stuff cos they need to be made well in advance; I suppose I'll just have to make mincemeat at Easter time instead! However, I am nurturing the Christmas Cake that I made at the weekend - I've been adding brandy by the teaspoon, so hopefully I'll be fantastic on the day. It's started to go all sticky with treacle-goodness. I keep worrying that it'll be raw in the middle. Raw or cooked, I'll be forcing people to eat it!

Off I pop - got students to teach!

Friday, December 7, 2007

#15 Christmas Cake

This is the first time I've been able to add an entry whilst making a dish. Yes, it's time for (#15)Christmas Cake. The idea being I can top it up with brandy throughout December ready for scoffing on the big day (assuming I can wait that long!). It is baking as we speak. It's got all you would expect inside - dried fruit, glace cherries, treacle etc etc etc!!!! God bless Greg for giving me an oven thermometer as an early Xmas pressie. My oven is shite! It took an hour just to get it to the right temperature; I have to set it at 100 degrees to actually get the required temperature of 140! It has to bake for 3 1/2 hours so I'm practising a talk as I wait, and of course, updating the old blog. I can't say what it's like, of course. We shall simply have to wait!

To make the cake you first need a huge bowl. Into it, mix together:

1 ½ pounds of mixed dried fruit;
four ounces of blanched, slivered almonds;
four ounces of chopped peel;
four ounces of rinsed, quartered glacé cherries.

Now add the rest of the dry ingredients:

ten ounces of plain flour;
a teaspoon of cinnamon;
a teaspoon of grated nutmeg;
grated rind of a lemon.

Now cream 8 ounces each of lightly salted butter and soft brown sugar in a separate bowl, then mix in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a tablespoon of black treacle. Beat in four eggs one by one until incorporated, and the mix in the fruit and the flour. For the final stage, dissolve half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a tablespoon of warmed milk, stir it in, and then add enough brandy to slacken the mixture slightly, so that it is a ‘soft dropping consistency’.

Line an eight inch cake tin with greaseproof paper and pour the mixture in, hollowing the top a little to compensate for the rising. Cover with a layer of brown paper to prevent scorching and bake for 3 ½ hours at 140⁰C. Test it after 3 hours though just in case. When done, leave to cool in its tin overnight. The cake needs to be kept for a month or more as you’ll need to sprinkle it with brandy every now and again. Eventually, the cake needs to be finished with marzipan and royal icing (see later posts!)

#14 Leek and Onion Pudding

It was a weird one, but Greg and I are running out of veggie recipes.

Start by making a suet pastry as for a steak and kidney pudding (I used veggie suet, natch). Line a 2 ½ pint basin with the dough. Chop a large onion and a couple of leeks. Layer up within with onion, leek, plenty of seasoning, butter and dried sage. Make a lid from pastry and steam for 3 hours. That’s it!

Sounds awful, bland and stodgy doesn’t it? Well, it was great. Surprisingly tasty. We had it with butter beans and onion gravy. Sorry for the rubbish picture - we only realised we hadn't taken one til we were on second helpings. The video is true excitement, don't you agree? Deffo a nominee for Best Short at the BAFTAs methinks!

Greg says:
#14 Leek and Onion Pudding - Witness how stupidly excited we are on the video. I didn't quite accept that you could make pastry out of steam, apparently you can. The pudding is yum, the pastry is really flowery, as opposed to floury, because of the herbs, and the long slow cook just brings out the ordinary flavours of everything in abundance. I would never have the patience to make it myself though, obv. 7/10

#14 Leek and Onion Pudding: 8/10. Lovely crispy herby crust, surprisingly yummy within.

#13 Pancakes for the Rich

Greg and I thought we needed to stuff our faces with animal fat and sugar so (#13) Pancakes for the Rich (or a Quire of Paper; whatever that means!) was called for. It made 10 pancakes - which were very difficult to fry:

To make the batter beat together 3 ounces of flour, four ounces of melted butter, half a pint of single cream and a large egg along with two tablespoons of brown sherry, a teaspoon of rose or orange-flower water and half a grated nutmeg. Coat a skillet or pan in a very thin layer of oil and fry on both sides until brown. They didn't go firm like normal pancakes, but squidgy and caramelised because of the butter and the very little egg. After wrestling with them - in order to turn one we had to slide it onto a plate, and upturn it back onto the pan, otherwise they ended up a sad blob of batter. We served some up with sugar; as Grigson suggests, but also had some with lemon juice too.

Was it worth it? Not sure; i think I might prefer poor-man's pancakes. I think I'll try her recipe for them soon. But Pancakes for the rich were interesting, particularly for the addition of the beautifully fragrant orange-flower water.
Greg says:
#13 Pancakes for the Rich - Pretty much ditto what he said, they're nice but really not a patch on pov pancakes which may say more about our working class palate than anything else. Mostly though they're a bitch to turn, I am the king of tossing pancakes and these buggers weren't for flippng. But they are tasty and if you're attempting to put on a lot of weight in a very short time, whcih we apparently are, these are for you. 6.5/10.

#13 Pancakes for the Rich: 6.5/10. Delicious, but a big old faff and a bit too rich - even for me!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another rainy day in Manchester...

On Saturday I completed my Continuation report for my PhD. I quite pleased with it - it could have done with one more draft but since my PC crashed after I'd spent 2 hours making corrections on the previous draft, I could not be ARSED! Anyway, it meant that me and Greg had a whole day together without me doing work - the only problem was it was chucking it down with rain - "it's like stair-rods" as my Dad would say! Rainy day = Grigson extravaganza. I decided that I'd make a Christmas cake and make some nice stuff to eat. We decided on (#13) Pancakes for the Rich for a naughty lunch and (#14) Leek and Onion Pudding for tea in the evening. Didn't have time to make the cake. It was nice going through the book choosing what to make - obviously we were restricted with the savories, but the puddings and teatime treats chapters give me a food boner! It is sad, I know; but there is something therapeutic about looking through cookbooks. Or may be it's just me... I'm really looking forward to making some traditional Christmas fayre. I am gonna be sooooo fat!

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...!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

#7 - Cauliflower and Fennel Soup

Sorry, but it's another vegetarian one. FYI once I get a floor put in my dining room I can invite people round and eat actual meat - there doesn't seem much point if there's only me eating it! Anyway, (#7) Cauliflower and Fennel Soup. Very simple; very fattening! Just cauliflower, the same weight in fennel (I used three) and an onion sweated in butter, add water, simmer, blitz in blender, add double cream, salt and lemon juice, finally a loving sprinkle of chopped fennel leaves over the top once you've dished it out. The end product is a beautiful creamy-white velvety soup; and although it's full of wintry veg and heavy cream and butter, it was surprisingly light and zingy - obviously due to the addition of the lemon juice. However, the flavour of the fennel (an underused favourite of mine) did not shine through. This is not the fault of The Grigson - or, at least I don't think it is - it is the fault of the quite sad-looking specimens that I bought from the grocers in Levenshulme. Brilliant that shop is, I think in a dish that contains so few ingredients needs careful acquisition from an organic grocers shop.

So overall i reckon:
#7 Cauliflower and Fennel Soup - 3/5. I was a lovely soup but lacked the expected flavours. Will maybe re-do it with better ingredients and try and bump it up to a 4!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My recipe for Yorkshire Puddings

In my humble opinion there's nothing better in the world than having your Sunday lunch in a giant Yorkshire pudding. Here's my recipe that makes two giant Yorkshires or 6 normal-sized ones. Fill them with your favorite roast meat and Sunday veg. Pour over loads of onion gravy. The gravy must be thick - this is not a time for watery gravies - proper Yorkshire food sticks to the ribs. These are easy-peasy and they always come out massive; you don't even need to weigh anything - you just need a ramekin to fill up. I reckon an average ramekin is about 1/2 an American cup in volume.

1 ramekin plain flour
1 ramekin half milk, half water mixture
2 eggs
pinch of salt
a flavourless oil or lard

  1. Whisk together the flour, milk, water eggs and salt until it is a smooth batter. Let it rest as long as possible - at least an hour. The longer the rest, the bigger the rise!
  2. Heat your oven to 200 degrees C. It must be at temperature when you want to cook the puddings.
  3. Add around 2 tablespoons of oil to 2 sandwich tins - enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer of oil. Put the tins in the oven for a good 10 minutes so that they are really hot.
  4. Quickly take out the tins and pour divide the mixture between them. There should be a satisfying sizzle.
  5. Put back in oven for 20-25 minutes until they are well-risen and golden brown.

I'd like say, I haven't been away...

I've been so busy with my new house and it's such a state that I've not been able to invite people round for Grigson treats. I've been eating the worst food since I was a student of late - it's terrible! I've gone from enthused cook to ping cuisine pig-dog in the space of two weeks! However, when I have cooked it's been stuff I already know how to do without even loking in a cookbook; and since it can't reproduce The Grigson's recipes I shall put MY recipes in instead! A genius idea methinks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Recipe #6 - Wyau Ynys Mon

Last night I was craving stodge - it had to be veggie stodge too as Greg was staying over. What did I find? (#6) Wyau Ynys Mon, or Anglesea Eggs. It consisted of 3 main parts: a ring of potato that's been through a vegetable mill mixed with mashed stewed leek; nestled in the ring eight quartered hard-boiled eggs, no less; and finally a topping of cheesy sauce made with flour, butter, milk and a good mature cheddar. Add an extra sprinkling of cheese for good measure and bake until golden brown on top.

All pretty straight-forward to do - except the veg strainer on the Kitchen Aid does not mill spuds very well as some website said it would...I think I will invest in a proper vegetable mill.

The dish was actually pretty bland, but was strangely satisfying. Greg and I ate a massive portion and continued to get fuller and fuller for a while after we'd eaten it. In fact I was still full this morning! I made so much I've got to have it for tea again tonight!

Here's what Greg said:
"Anglesey Eggs. Is all British food entrails and stodge? If you live on a windy peninsula I guess you need food that keeps you warm 10 hours after you've eaten it, and this is perfect for that. Buttery leeks (haha) and eggs together are a sensation but you'd need an iron constitution, or at least to eat smaller portions than we did, to indulge more than once a year. It's more filling than anti-matter but so delicious. I'd put mashed-up ready salted crisps in the cheese topping to jazz it up but that's just me, I aint no purist. 4/5 again I think. Marks are still high but veggie options running low. Check out the vid of Neil making potato worms with ye olde Kitchene Aide to whet your appetites."

My score:
#6 Wyau Ynys Mon: 2/5 - homely stodge, great on wet winter days but lacked excitement

Monday, September 17, 2007

Recipe #5 - Pan Haggarty

Our mate Joff came round for tea last night so we had a very nice Pan Haggarty. The meal had to be veggie so the only change I made was to use groundnut oil with a dot of butter instead of lard to fry it in. Pan Haggarty is a North-Eastern dish (from Newcastle, I think) and is simply finely-sliced potato and onion layered up in a frying pan with grated cheddar, adding plenty of seasoning on the way, then frying it slowly until it cooks through and then popping it under the grill. The only difficult part would be the slicing-up of the veg, but luckily I've got a slicing attachment for my Kitchen Aid so it was all done in 5 minutes!

In Yorkshire, this dish is called a Pan Aggie - my uncle used to cook it. His way was to layer up potato, onion, garlic, butter and bacon, and bake it in the oven. This way is just as tasty and quite different, but it does take rather a lot longer to bake in the oven than it does to fry on the hob.

#5 Pan Haggarty: 4/5 - a great supper dish - particularly if you need to keep to a tight budget

Here's what Joff said:
"I was very excited at the prospect of this dish and I wasn't disappointed. I'm told it was simple to make but I couldn't have done it! The spuds were particularly perfect. Its the sort of dish one should eat after a brisk walk on a cold, windy day. I shall give it a 4.5/5. Only reason the 0.5 is 'missing' is because there wasn't any left over for a doggy bag!"

And Greg:
"My ruthless critique of Pan Haggarty is . . . yum! Basically it's 'I'm getting a divorce and I've lost my job' style food. Comforting in the extreme. The stronger the cheddar the better I'd say and fanzy pickles/relishes are de rigour. I could a whole one to myself. I'd be sensational and go with garlic too though I reckon. Easy peasy too, esp with a Kitchen Aid slicing machine. 4/5. Well done chef."

Recipes 2-4 - Glamorgan Sausages, Olde Worlde Mushrooms and Peas

I've been away from a computer for a few days - I still don't have the internet at home and I had to go back to Leeds at the weekend because my brother Ady and his good lady wife Nads had a little boy called Harry. He's the cutest and I'm NOT biased! Now I've got some catching up to do. The hat trick meal went quite well although I did get a little flustered and rushed through the making of the Glamorgan sausages - they were far too big and didn't cook through properly. They were also a bit well done - au creole I should say - because I lost concentration when dishing up. However, they can be done well in advance, so next time I'll be better prepared. They're a definite veggie alternative. Doing them in the food processor makes light work of it too - although be careful, I've sustained my first injury on one of the blades! The fricassey of mushrooms was brilliant; the taste and aroma of the mace and nutmeg were warming and so very Medieval! The Grigson talks about the English way to cook (#4) green peas - i.e. with mint and sugar in with the water - as the only way to do them yet I had never actually eaten them this way. Well, I certainly agree and it will now be the only way I shall cook peas in the future!
For the Glamorgan sausages:

Start by mixing together 5 ounces of grated Caerphilly or Cheddar cheese, 4ounces of fresh white breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons of finely –chopped leek or spring onion and a generous tablespoon of chopped parsley. You can quicken the whole process by simply reducing those ingredients into breadcrumbs in food processor. Now mix in 3 egg yolks, half a teaspoon of thyme, a level teaspoon each of salt and mustard powder and some pepper. Bring the mixture together and form into around 12 small sausages. Dip each one in egg white and then coat in some dried breadcrumbs. Fry gently in oil or lard until golden.

The recipe for ‘A White Fricassey of Mushrooms’ comes from Hannah Glasse and I shall simply quote it as Griggers has done:

“Take a Quart of Fresh Mushrooms, make them clean, put them into a Sauce-pan, with three spoonfuls [tablespoons] of Water and three of Milk, and a very little Salt, set them on a quick Fire and let them boil up three Times; then take them off, grate in a little Nutmeg, put in a little beaten Mace, half a Pint of thick Cream, a Piece of butter rolled well in Flour, put it all together into the Sauce-pan, and Mushrooms all together, shake the Sauce-pan well all the Time. When it is fine and thick, dish them up; be careful they don’t curdle [ don’t let them boil]. You may stir the Sauce-pan carefully with a Spoon all the time.”

The peas were simply a cop out: make sure you boil them with plenty of salt, sugar and mint!

Here's what Greg reckons:
"13th Sept: Glamorgan sausages, mushroom fricasee, minty peas, new potatoes. As a combo it works really well. The mushrooms are creamy, reminded me of the really nice chicken supreme we used to get at school, the peas are sweet n fresh, the sausages are comforting stodge, sits together a treat. The mace was most exciting , looks like pork scratchings, smells like sarsaparilla, gives the mushrooms an exotic little edge. I'd put more in than she says, it could take it. The peas were lovely, could eat a huge bowl by themselves, it's not quite the same as just having peas with mint sauce either, you get all the sweetness first and a rush of mintiness last, totally moreish. Sausages were grand but recipe said make 12, which the monkey reduced to 4, bit of an error as they were not quite done through so still a bit leeky. The cheese will never fully melt anyway as it's not fatty. Potatoes perfect complement. Sausages: 3. Mushrooms: 4 (my fave). Peas: 4. (I'm saving 5 for something amazing!)"

My personal ratings are:
#2 Glamorgan sausages: 3/5 - next time I'll do them better and hopefully they'll graduate up to 4/5!
#3 A Fricassey of Mushrooms: 4.5/5 - a brilliant way to serve mushrooms as a veg with a Sunday roast.
#4 Green Peas: 4.5/5 - quintessential English delight

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Easy Peasy

Hang on..!

#4 - Green Peas. Mint, butter and sugar are all that's required! Brill. She doesn't mention the frozen pea, b ut she doesn't assume fresh either. We all know that the ONLY veg worth freezing is the garden pea. A hat trick it is! Doing a puds as well will be far too cocky. I'll definitely leave it at three.

Vegetarianism Begins at Home

I'm going to try (#2) Glamorgan Sausages and to accompany, (#3) A White Fricassey of Mushrooms i think. I'll also have it with mashed potato as the Welsh do, even though Ms. Grigson reckons it's too stodgy - I'll be the judge of that! The only potato-as-a-veg recipe in the book is Mashed Potato with Dulse, and I don't have any of that (yet) so it won't be a hat trick! Unless there's an easy pea recipe. Hmmm...

Anyway, if Greg gives the sausages a good rating then they can be an official veggie option. We'll have to wait until tonight and see what he says.

On Concessions....

I did say in the premise that I had to cook everything to the letter with no concessions (unless impossible!). I may have to go back on this for one tiny aspect - those damn vegetarians! I need veggie alternatives to meat dishes if people are coming round for a dinner party or Sunday lunch. However even veggie staples such as Glamorgan sausages are fried in lard or dripping. So in order to keep people happy and so that more people came come over and eat and drink and have fun, I simply have to make this ONE concession!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Recipe #1 - Smoked Finnan Haddock Soup

Well the first dish was made last night - my mate Simon popped on over to see my new house so I thought I'd better get started with this little undertaking!

I decided on Smoked Finnan Haddock Soup as the first dish - it seemed straight-forward enough and the ingredients were easy to get at short-notice. A bit of poaching and then liquidising were the most testing techniques. Easy-peasy - all done in 35 minutes.

I've decided that Tuedsay's are the best day for fish dishes as the fish is usually delivered on that day. The fishmongers in the Arndale market were very good. Nice, super-fresh, plump fish fillets - and very good value for money; seven quid for 8 ounces of naturally-smoked haddock and 12 ounces of white fish (I chose cod, whiting and coley). I didn't want to use all cod as the white fish as perhaps I would have done 10 years ago, but it's much too expensive these days, plus it's on its way to extinction with overfishing. (I doubt if I could pass the Pepsi challenge with coley and cod anyway.)

Pour boiling water over 8 ounces of Finnan haddock and let it lightly poach for 10 minutes. Whilst you're waiting for that, cut 12 ounces of white fish into cubes and melt 2 ounces of butter in a pan and cook a large chopped onion. once soft, stir in a tablespoon of flour and let it cook out for two minutes or so. Measure out a quarter of a pint of the haddock water as well as a pint of milk. Flake the haddock and keep a tablespoon of the fish aside. Place the rest - bones, skin and all - into the soup pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove any large obvious bones and then liquidise the soup, then reheat it without letting it boil. Add a quarter of a pint of cream and some chopped parsley. Stir the tablespoon of reserved haddock meat, season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Here's what Simon said about the soup:

"Tuesdsay11th September 2007Grigson's smoked haddock soup. Served with brown bread and a crisp Sauvinon Blanc.Happy to report I have had the pleasure of eating Neil's first official dish from the book. The soup served was a creamy delight with a delicate but plentiful flavour. The smoked fish was balanced wonderfully with cream, parsley and lemon; all presented well with an excellent consistancy. Overall the soup was very moreish so I went back for more. Yummy, next please.
Food: 5
Service: 4
Decor: 2(Out of 5 that is)"

So a great start - I would certainly recommend this one to anyone who wants to make a quick supper or a very easy, but impressive starter.

Simon decided that the next dish to be attemped is: Duck Stewed in Green Peas

However, I'm going to do some veggie stuff soon too as my boyfriend Greg is a veggie - as well as a fair few friends of mine too! Maybe a meat and two veg with a veggie option is the way to go.

Send me your ideas please!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Also hopefully I'll get some pics of me up so that you can get to know about me, where I'm from, my partner, my friends, my job and my cat! That will all come very soon!

The Premise

The whole idea of my blog came from a conversation I had with my boyf about a woman who decided to cook every recipe in a cook book she found. I'm quite an enthusiastic cook and thought it would be a great idea to give it a try too.

I've chosen to use Jane Grigson's English Food for a variety of reasons. First, I enjoy cooking all sorts of world dishes but have never really concentrated on English/British cuisine apart from the odd dish here and there; second Grigson is a great writer; and third, although it was published in 1974, it very much concentrates on traditional dishes and many ingredients are no longer widely used (or perhaps not at all!).

That's the serious bit done - the main reason I'm doing the whole thing is to become a better cook by concentrating on it as my hobby and to have some fun - although I don't know where on Earth I'm going to get some of the ingredients from, i.e. brains!!

So this is it. I have to cook every dish in the book as written by Jane - even if it contains something I don't like, e.g. whiskey and salmon. I'm sure I can find someone who'll eat it! I may need help with finding some ingredients. If I can't get hold of something, I'll use the best alternative as a last resort. Many of the recipes contain foods that I've never tried myself so I'll be giving feedback on everything as I go along!

I'd also like help from you too - hints and tips, good suppliers, whatever - all help will be greatly recieved! Also if you'd like to suggest the next recipe or even try cooking the recipes along with me to start discussions about the best way to devil a kidney or whatever we might be attempting!

All I need to decide on is what I'm going to cook first...