All posts tagged: Food History

Can cook, but didn’t cook. A venture into (rather lovely) pre-prepared meals.

I think I can pretty much say we never eat “ready meals”. I am not averse to a good steak pie from a farm-shop or similar but ready-meals generally, nope. That is not because I am a food snob necessarily, (although I am, natch) we just generally don’t like the taste and my own food always tastes better. However, I made an exception this weekend, with a complicated Sunday of taxiing and trying to provide food, I decided extreme measures were called for to ensure we all got something decent for Sunday lunch. So I ventured over to “Cook” in West Bridgford. Cook is a frozen food specialist that claims they make “remarkable food for your freezer, made like you would at home” . I know, what you’re thinking  – posh “Iceland”. But you’d be wrong. Cook has a huge range of meals, mains, puddings, party food, even your entire Christmas lunch if you really wanted to push the boat out. The shop in West Bridgford is tidy, friendly and well designed, there is 2 …

Living on the edge, and at my age as well – Raw Milk

Just when you think there is nothing much new under the sun, you discover there is. Well, not new exactly, but you get my drift. I grew up in rural Lincolnshire but, unlike just about everyone who has since contacted me about this, I don’t think I ever drank raw (unpasteurised) milk. I can recall an old fella that used to cycle to the dairy farm every morning with a small metal churn hanging from his handlebars – I now realise what he was up to. I had of course had sterilised milk – which still makes me think nostalgically of early package holidays – you’re still hard pushed to get fresh pasteurised milk in most of southern Europe, but it has taken a fair few years ( I won’t say how many) for the moment to arrive when I finally got to try raw milk. Raw milk is not, of course, without controversy. It cannot be sold in shops or supermarkets, but only at the “farmgate” direct to the consumer by the dairy that …

Newark Show “Cut and Butter” Cake

It is told that the illustrious, and slightly scary sounding, Nottinghamshire Women’s Institute Catering Committee devised this fruit loaf for the Notts County Show held at the Newark Showground every May. I don’t have any dates for this recipe, it appears in Angela Greary’s 1994 local recipes book and follows a similar fruitcake recipe from Southwell, dated 1890. However, it is clearly a very traditional and, indeed, a very simple recipe. Given the array of food choices and exotic street food that characterise so many shows and festivals nowadays (not that I am complaining, you understand 😊)  it is nice to think that such a simple and traditional tea loaf was the talk of the show. Apparently it was sold in the refreshment tent, sliced and buttered (hence the name) and was always a popular choice. This recipe (in post-Brexit Imperial measures, I’m afraid)  makes two solid loaves or cakes (put one in the freezer or store in an airtight tin). Ingredients  1 and a half lbs mixed dried fruit, 3/4 pint hot tea (or …

Twenty Slices of Bread topped with Liverwurst (oh, and some sardines). Eating out in Dusseldorf.

I don’t speak a word of German. I can muster up a bit of French, and have probably still got some passable Finnish, but German – not a word. So as the daughter planned a week staying with a friend in Dusseldorf, we decided we’d grab the chance of a city break somewhere we’d neither of us been before. Dusseldorf is not the most obvious choice for a short break, I grant you, but if you like museums, art, food, old towns, modern architecture, designer shopping and large rivers, this may be the city for you. Thankfully most Germans have passable to excellent English, and as Dusseldorf is not your typical tourist town, this is really rather useful. We stayed at the Orangery, a modern “boutique” hotel in an old house in a quiet cobbled courtyard, metres from the Rhine and minutes from the heart of the old town, with its alleys of restaurants and bars, and a few minutes more from the fabulous designer shopping streets and malls. A pretty perfect location in fact. …

Channeling Rumpole on Fleet Street

Well, you couldn’t really stay just off Fleet Street and not step back in time to a world of gossip, intrigue, scoops and plotting that was (still is?) the culture of the English Press. Although most of the papers are long gone and the presses moved out, their ghosts still haunt Fleet Street, the shadows of signage on the grand buildings, faded painted titles on the walls, the pubs and bars that hosted the press barons and hacks, and of course the eponymous Street remains short-hand for our newspaper industry even though most of it is long gone and much of it is dying on its feet. Ever read Rumpole of the Bailey? or Private Eye?  You’ll recognise this place. The “Pomeroys” of the books –  El Vino. It reeks (only figuratively of course) of a culture of portly, red-faced men, polishing off a bottle of decent red from about 11 in the morning bemoaning the world and putting it to rights, or those leaving the (truly astonishing) St Bride’s Church, the “journalist’s” Church to …

Borough Market – I know, I am such an old romantic

I’ve not met anyone that doesn’t love London’s Borough Market. It’s not just the fabulous range of fresh produce, meat, seafood, products, herbs, spices, bread and street food, it’s the atmosphere it evokes. Like much of London, its history colours your sense of the present. I defy anyone to walk towards the Market nestled under the iron girders of the  railway bridge above and not find themselves cast back to any number of films, novels and exhibitions that describe the sights, sounds and smells of historic London. You feel you are walking in the footsteps of thousands of others stretching back hundreds of years who have come to this place to meet and to trade. And indeed you are, the market is believed to go back possibly as much as a 1000 years. It is situated at one end of London Bridge, for centuries the only route over the river and believed to have been built originally by the Romans (which then became a strategic defence against the marauding Vikings as they sailed up the …

Food for Thought – a weekend of utter foodiness

Last weekend was all about me. This almost never happens, but last weekend it did. I attended the wonderful School of Artisan Food’s annual food lecture weekend – “Food for Thought”. For those not familiar with this fabulous place, the School is located on the beautiful Welbeck Estate in North Nottinghamshire, it is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Portland, is famous for its tunnels and underground ballroom and is situated at the heart of the Dukeries – the ancient hunting grounds of Royalty and Aristocracy. Not only that, the School is a fantastic resource hosting all kinds of artisan food courses from baking and patisserie to cheese making and artisan ice cream, butchery and cider making. Just a totally fantastic place. Last weekend rolled out some “stars” of the culinary world, to talk with and to a “foodie” audience. I would say it was an eclectic mix – food writers, bloggers, home-cooks, a Vet, retired sorts and young whipperysnappery things up from London with cuboid necklaces and spiral bound notebooks. It was also …

Manhattan-style Clam Chowder, tomatoes, no cream..

So reminiscing about last summer’s trip to New York and a lovely chowder at Pier A, I felt inspired to rustle up a Manhattan Style Chowder. To me a Chowder always has milk or cream in it but in New York it was all about the tomatoes. It seems the addition of tomatoes instead of cream is not historically without its own controversy… apparently by 1939 it had become so contentious that one State Representative, a certain Cleveland Sleepe, introduced a Bill in the legislature attempting to make the addition of tomatoes illegal. However, after a panel of Chowder connoisseurs at a competition in Portland declared the traditional New England Chowder the epicurean champion, the Bill did not pass and the Free World is still free to add tomatoes to its chowder, and so am I. Delicious.

Khinkali – It’s December, surely it is time for dumplings?

I loved the time I spent in Finland in my late teens and the travelling I did in Karelia and Russia (then the Soviet Union – yep I’m that old) and in particular I loved the various types of “dumplings” that varied between regions and countries but which all had in common the ability to fill you up and warm you up in the very cold Northern winters. It’s not so cold here in Nottinghamshire, in fact, this December must be heading for some sort of record as it was 12 degrees celsius at 7am this morning and the day-time temps rose to 17 degrees celsius yesterday which is, bizarrely, like June. Still, can’t let that get in the way of winter cooking, so here is a version of a Georgian dumpling, known as Khinkali, they are similar to (but as the locals will tell you) nonetheless different from Polish Pierogi or Russian Pelmeni. I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this as it was taught to me so long ago I may have amended …

“Hot Toddy” Batter Pudding – with a wee nip

My local newspaper, the Nottingham Post, asked me for a couple of suggestions for winter warming puddings. Well, Nottinghamshire is traditionally known for its batter puddings and what could be more traditional for winter than a hot toddy – the classic remedy for a winter head cold and sore throat, with honey, lemon and perhaps a wee nip of whisky. This pudding has a subtle touch of all these, and separates into two layers as it bakes. Eat warm straight from the oven and serve with a dash of pouring cream. If you are not keen on whisky, you could go for Brandy, or double up on the honey instead. This is an old recipe, and perhaps something of an acquired taste, some more modern versions turn it into more of a sponge, but traditionally it is an egg batter. Give it a whirl! HOT TODDY PUDDING Serves approx 6 INGREDIENTS 40g (1¼oz) plain flour salt (pinch) 200ml (7fl oz) full fat milk 75ml (2½fl oz) fresh lemon juice and 1tsp grated zest 3tbsp Scotch …