England’s Finest - A Book Speaking Volumes

England’s Finest – A Book Speaking Volumes

England’s Finest – A Book Speaking Volumes – Sometimes one’s looking for a really memorable gift for someone who’s either recently moved to England, or perhaps is returning home after a spell of living here. Well, I’ve found the perfect gift that will either introduce them to England and her food or be a lovely souvenir. But it’s not just for them, it’s also a stunning testament to our English food heritage and a coffee table book extraordinaire.

Carol Wilson‘s Regional Cooking of England is a beautiful, lavish, volume that celebrates England’s food.  There are dishes to represent our heritage, old and new, and it’s packed with gorgeous photos. Sussex Pond Pudding, fruit crumbles, trifles, steak and oyster pie, raised pork pies, toad in the hole, scones, stotties, Bosworth jumbles… In this book you’ll find everything from old-fashioned favourites and current classics to less well-known historical dishes (a few of which might raise an eyebrow), along with many wonderful local recipes. The recipes are easy to follow, with accessible ingredients, and achievable in today’s kitchens. Introductory chapters detail the history of cooking and eating in England, the feasts and festivals, high days and holidays, eating habits and ingredients.

Discover the delights of the full English breakfast, the tin miner’s meal of a filling Cornish pasty, and a traditional afternoon tea with dainty scones and cucumber sandwiches. Enjoy the ritual of the classic Sunday lunch. There are childhood classics – shepherd’s pie and jammy tarts – as well as elaborate old-fashioned celebration centrepieces such as raised game pie and wobbling domed blancmange.

Regional savouries like Sussex Smokies, Pan Haggerty and Yorkshire Parkin, join Bath Buns, Devon Flats, and Goosenargh Cakes. It’s published by Lorenz Books, (©anness publishing ltd) at £25, and when you see the quality of the publication, you’ll realise that it’s a bargain.

CAROL WILSON is a food writer and historian who has contributed to many publications including The Times, The Illustrated London News, Heritage, Food and Wine, and Gastronomica. She has appeared on television promoting British food and discussing the history and usage of traditional ingredients.  Her other books include Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking, The Liquorice Cookbook, and The Bacon Cookbook. She is a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Here are some recipes, to inspire you.

Omelette Arnold Bennett (serves 2)

England’s Finest - A Book Speaking Volumes

This creamy, smoked haddock soufflé omelette was created for the post-theatre suppers of the famous English novelist, who frequently stayed at the Savoy Hotel in London. It is now served all over the world as a sustaining breakfast or supper dish.

175g/6oz smoked haddock fillet, poached and drained

50g/2oz/4 tbsp butter, diced

175ml/6fl oz whipping or double cream

4 eggs, separated

ground black pepper

40g/1½oz mature Cheddar cheese, grated

watercress, to garnish

1 Remove and discard the skin and any bones from the haddock fillet by carefully pressing down the length of each fillet with your fingertips. Using two forks and, following the grain of the flesh, flake the fish into large chunks.

2 Melt half the butter with 60ml/4 tbsp of the cream in a small non-stick pan. When the mixture is hot but not boiling, add the fish. Stir together gently, taking care not to break up the flakes of fish. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring continuously, then cover the pan, remove from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes.

3 Preheat the grill to high. Mix the egg yolks with 15ml/1 tbsp of the cream. Season with ground black pepper, then stir into the fish.

4 In a separate bowl, mix the cheese and the remaining cream. Stiffly whisk the egg whites, then fold into the fish mixture.

5 Heat the remaining butter in an omelette pan until foaming. Add the fish mixture and cook until it is browned underneath.

6 Pour the cheese mixture evenly over the top and grill until it is bubbling. Serve immediately, garnished with watercress.

Devilled Kidneys

England’s Finest - A Book Speaking Volumes

In the 19th century, hot spicy flavours became very popular, due to the influence of Indian recipes and spices brought back to England during the British Raj. Recipes for devilled kidneys, for instance, were enjoyed at the breakfast table.

Serves 4

8 slices of country bread

25g/1oz/2 tbsp butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

115g/4oz mushrooms, halved

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

15ml/1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

8 lamb’s kidneys, halved and trimmed

150ml/¼ pint double cream

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Preheat the grill and toast the bread slices until golden brown on both sides and keep warm.

2 Melt the butter in the pan until it is foaming. Add the shallot, garlic and mushrooms, then cook for 5 minutes, or until the shallot is softened. Stir in the cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for about 1 minute.

3 Add the kidneys to the pan and cook for 3–5 minutes on each side. Finally, stir in the cream and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and slightly thickened.

4 Remove the bread from the rack and place on warmed plates. Top with the kidneys. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Cook’s Tip

If you prefer, the bread can be fried rather than toasted. Melt 25g/1oz/2 tbsp butter in a frying pan and fry until crisp and golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Yorkshire Lemon Surprise (Serves 4)

England’s Finest - A Book Speaking Volumes

During cooking, a tangy lemon sauce collects beneath a light sponge topping. It’s important to bake this dish when it is standing in the bath of hot water, otherwise it will not work.

50g/2oz butter, plus extra for greasing

grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

115g/4oz caster sugar

2 eggs, separated

50g/2oz self-raising flour

300ml/½ pint milk

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Use a little butter to grease a 1.2 litre/2-pint ovenproof dish.

2 Beat the butter, lemon rind and caster sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and flour and beat together well. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice and milk (the mixture may curdle horribly, but don’t be alarmed).

3 In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites lightly into the lemon mixture using a metal spoon, then pour into the prepared dish.

4 Place the dish in a roasting pan, pour in hot water to fill half-way up the sides, put into the hot oven and cook for 45 minutes until golden.

The Seasoned Gastronome

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