All posts tagged: history

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 …

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 …

Food, Farming & Brexit, back to a diet of Spam and Powdered Egg?

“The UK has voted to leave the European Union” Time to take Stock Last week BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme began to investigate the potential impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU on our food industry. It is, in fact, quite astonishing to me that food and farming formed so little of the national debate in the run-up to the Referendum. Even if such issues do not capture the popular imagination in the way that the economy and immigration might, it is still pretty odd that the subject did not appear more widely in the intellectual, academic and specialist debates that ran alongside the mainstream messages. When I was younger, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was a big news item, with stories of French farmers benefiting disproportionately and the cultural and economic history of mainland European farming, frequently rooted in largely pre-war agricultural and rural economies, (that seemed so archaic compared to our move to factory and industrial scale farming – if we only knew) – we shook our heads in dismay …

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 …

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.

Absinthe and Champagne. Teatime at The Loom

The Lace Market area of Nottingham is thought to be one of the oldest parts of the City. It has a history going back to the early settlers who carved out caves in the soft sandstone rock of the cliff in which to live and it has had a crucial place in every period of the city’s history. It now forms Nottingham’s “Creative Quarter”, with some wonderful architecture, the magnificent St Mary’s Church (where I was wed, incidently ☺️), and lots of bars and restaurants, one of the latests and coolest of which is The Loom. The Loom is located in a beautiful Grade II listed 18th Century building that was formerly the city’s Lace Museum. The entrance is a deceptively discreet Town House portico which opens up into a surprisingly huge space. With the front rooms classily set out as restaurant space, leading to the bar/lounge and stage area at the rear (which operated as a lace warehouse as recently as the 1960s). I love that The Loom reflects Nottingham’s lace-making heritage, everything about …

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 …

23rd January 1942, Cod a la Biscaienne

Today is Armistice Day so a good day, I thought, to share with you something we found amongst my Grandfather’s papers. It is a menu from the Troop Ship HMT Thysville, setting out Breakfast (love that the Oats are branded – not just any old oats!) Luncheon and Supper for Friday 23rd January 1942. On the back are lots of hand-written names, notes and messages, mostly in Afrikaans/Dutch.  I do not know where the ship was going, but do know that my grandfather served in the Military Policy and the Royal Artillary in Burma. Does anyone have any information on this ship? I would love to hear it. In the meantime I thought I would share this menu, I do wonder if this was for officers or all ranks, but have no idea. There are two courses – Brandade of Cod a la Biscaienne and Ragout of Mutton Printanier that I can find no on-line recipes for, if anyone can help with the ingredients for these I would be extremely grateful. Thank you.

Corned Beef Hash and Clam Chowder – Come take another walk with me, down to Battery Park, NYC.

And another Huge Breakfast Back to New York and check out this breakfast. Astro’s American Diner in Mid-Town Manhattan. Just around the corner from our Hotel, we found this old-school breakfast joint. Astro’s has been on 6th Ave and 55th Street for over 30 years, we stumbled across it looking for an early breakfast (it opens at 6am) and we were the first customers in. Not knowing the patch we just hoped we had chosen wisely, but not to worry, within half an hour the place was completely full, so clearly the locals knew its charms. Seems to be largely family run by New York Greek/Cypriots and if you are hungry and heading for a heavy day of sightseeing, this will set you up nicely, and the coffee is strong enough to stand a spoon in and just keeps coming.              Husband had the (huge) corned beef hash, with eggs –  and managed to finish it, Daughter had the waffle and Canadian-style bacon and I had the pancakes, American bacon and two eggs, over-easy …