Welcome!


This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.


Sunday, 3 September 2017

A Nut Loaf for Nutting Day



September 3rd was traditionally known as Nutting Day, which is when children would go out into the local woods to collect hazelnuts.




Nut Loaf

6 oz/175 g butter
6 oz/175 g caster sugar
3 eggs
8 oz/225 g self raising flour
1 oz/25 g ground almonds
3 oz/75 g mixed chopped nuts
2 tablespoons milk

To Decorate
4 tablespoons apricot jam
3 oz/75 g walnut halves
3 oz/75 g whole brazil nuts


Heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3

Beat the butter and caster sugar together, until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the flour with each egg.
Stir in the ground almonds and chopped nuts with the rest of the flour.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk, to make a soft consistency.
Turn into a buttered and lined 2lb/1kg loaf tin and bake for 1 1/4/1 1/2 hours.   Turn out on to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Warm the apricot jam and pass through a sieve.  Brush half on to the warm cake and decorate with the nuts.  Brush with the remaining jam and leave to cool.




The cake is light and moist, beautifully textured with the chopped nuts.   Will definitely make this one again.

Recipe found in A Calendar of Feasts Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, published 1987.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Recipe Book Cover Fun



As well as making and baking plenty of food and cakes, this summer has also featured a bit of fun as I played around with echoing some recipe book covers.

The most fiddly bit is getting things set up at the right levels, varying heights so that the photograph looks good, rather than slavishly following what is on the cover.   Just go for the spirit of the cover and suddenly it becomes very easy and it is surprising just how many 'props' are to be found around the home.

I hope you have had some summer fun.

ps Plenty more book cover art can be found over on my Parsonage Cottage blog.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Village Show



On Sunday our tiny village hall came to life for the Annual Village Show.  After months of meetings and trying to generate some interest, it finally all came together and the tables were filled with fruit, vegetables, cakes, jam, pickles, craft works, photography and fabulous flower displays.

What a relief.

It is one of those quintessentially English events where outwardly calm facades hide those deeply competitive streaks.    Many of the village people have nothing to do with the event, so thank goodness we have some fabulous people who do take the time and trouble to grow, make, bake, jam, pickle and create things for the show.



One year we had the infamous 'Sconegate' incident... involving a judge firmly rooted in WI standards and our fabulous local foodblogger, Dom of belleaukitchen.com, who had baked the most sumptuous and beautiful scones - alas, he had baked them man-sized - and they were therefore demoted because of this.  This led to murmurings of witchcraft and/or skulduggery of some kind and there has never since been a 'Scone' class...

How much poorer our village would be without his wonderful support and participation.

This year it was especially difficult to keep things going because our committee numbers are so depleted.   Fortunately, on the day, several people who had not been able to help with the preparations turned out to help with the general work of selling tickets, filling in forms and helping with the refreshments.  Phew!

The doors were closed at 11am, the judges had arrived and they took their work very seriously indeed.   Jams and pickles were tasted, salad dressings, ditto.  Cakes were cut and nibbled, notes made.  Bread was sawn open and prodded, poked and sampled.  Judgement made, the certificates were filled in and best of category selected.

By 2pm the work of judging had been completed, so had the paperwork, and the doors were opened.  In rushed the crowd to scan for prizes, assess the judging, cakes and tea were consumed and raffle tickets drawn.

It was fun!

Without events like this, which do take a lot of work, but which draw a community together, the village would be a much duller place.     People come together and have fun, they sit and drink tea, chat and wait for the awards and raffle.

They turned out and they participated and the hall was buzzing with conversation and fun.

The tradition of the Village Show has been maintained.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Boodle's Club Cake Good.


I should state here and now that brandy has nothing whatsoever to do with this recipe!

I was just trying  to convey a sense of Boodle's Club, which is a private Gentlemen's Club and the second oldest club in the world.   It was founded in 1762 and has had some illustrious members.   Membership is strictly by nomination and election - no riff-raff allowed!

I can, however, bring you a recipe for their special fruit cake.




I took delivery of this old, 1930's recipe book, yesterday morning - Caviare to Candy by Mrs Philip Martineau.

It is the kind I book I love - lots of recipes which don't call for a million ingredients, minimal instructions and few illustrations.   You have to rely on your back knowledge and instincts.  I don't always get it right, but it does make baking fun.

I was drawn to 'Boddle's Club Cake' first of all because the name appealed to me - but mainly because the word 'Good' had been written next to it.

That is another thing I like about these old books, the notes, the splashes, the evidence of years of use.

A cake was required for the weekend - my choice was made for me.

"One pound of flour, half a pound of butter or margarine, half a pound of Demerara sugar, half a pound of raisins, two eggs, one and a half teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda, one gill of milk.

Beat butter and sugar together, then the eggs, chop raisins (I didn't) and mix with flour, stir in gradually; dissolve soda in the warm milk and beat all well together.   Bake in a moderate oven for two and three-quarter hours.  (Very good.)"




What a wonderful cake!   It is a light fruited sponge cake, but with a sort of butterscotch/caramel flavour.   It goes perfectly with a cup of tea - no brandy was consumed - I was still playing with the Gentlemen's club theme when I took the photographs.

The family loved it.

I loved it.

This has gone straight to the top of my 'easy bakes' list.




You can now find me on Instagram as parsonage_cottage_kitchen.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Cheese and Olive Bread



This is a bit fancier than the bread which I normally bake, but it turned out to be a really easy recipe to follow and the resulting bread was delicious - crisp, flaky outer shell with cheese and olive filling - think a very large, crisper, savoury croissant and you are almost there.  

Delicious warm/hot straight from the oven, or reheat later.

9 oz bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 sachet yeast
3 1/2 fl oz hand-hot milk
1 egg, beaten
2 oz butter, chilled and cut into very small cubes

FILLING
2 oz stoned olives, sliced
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix together the beaten egg and warmed milk and then add them to the dry ingredients.   Turn the dough on to a board and knead until smooth and elastic.     (Compared to the vast batches of bread which I normally make this was a tiny amount and I found it a joy to knead such a small quantity!)

Place in a clean, greased bowl and cover.  Leave to double in size - about 30-40 minutes, depends how warm your kitchen is.

Turn the dough out and roll into a 6x12 inch rectangle.    Dot the bottom two-thirds of the dough with half the butter.   Fold the top third down over the centre third and then the bottom third up.  Seal the edges.   (All much easier than it sounds.)
Place the dough on a plate and chill for about 20 minutes.


Mix together the filling ingredients, save a little egg for glazing.
Roll the dough out into an oblong about 8x12 inches.   Spread the filling over the surface.  Roll along the long side, like a Swiss roll.   Shape into a ring.  Mine was more like a horseshoe, but never mind!
Place on a greased baking sheet.  Make a series of cuts around the ring, brush with beaten egg.   Leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

Plae in a preheated oven 220C/fan oven 200C or gas mark 7.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and wait for the gannets to descend.


I found the recipe in a WI book - Best-kept Secrets of the WI.

The outer bread case was crisp and flaky, the filling was like a savoury croissant.    When I make it next time I'll use a more mature cheese for a stronger flavour, but that is down to personal taste.   The grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed it, even if one did pick out all the olives.





Saturday, 13 May 2017

Chocolate and Rhubarb Tart

Chocolate pastry with a layer of chocolate custard topped with rhubarb which has been gently poached in red berry coulis.


I served it with an extra portion of the berry coulis - sharp, tangy, and delicious.   

Indulgent?  Yes!   

Sweet chocolate and tangy fruits, unctuous custard over a lovely crisp pastry base.   If you are not so keen on the sharper notes just add more sugar to the fruit.

I used a Victorian recipe for the pastry.   I am tweaking the balance of ingredients at the moment because I found it very difficult to handle.    Once I have it perfected I will post it here.     This pastry makes the most delicious and crisp base for a tart or pie.

Make a thick chocolate custard and spread it on the base of the baked pastry shell, top it with the poached rhubarb and add a little of the red berry coulis.    Chill.  Serve with extra red berry coulis.  Simple!

Because I made this up as I went along, I haven't got any accurate weights and quantities to share with you, next time I make it I will take note.

I used two sticks of rhubarb, washed, trimmed, stringy bits removed, sliced about half an inch thick and very gently poached in red berry coulis.

The coulis was simply made with some red berries from the freezer, I defrosted them and then gently heated them in a saucepan, along with a dessertspoonful of dark brown sugar.     I just let them do their own thing on the slow plate of the Rayburn, so the heat was very gentle.

Push the berries through a sieve and discard the seeds.   The resulting coulis didn't look quite enough to poach the rhubarb in, so I added a small glug of blackcurrant juice and then tumbled the rhubarb into the pan and left them to slowly and very gently poach.  The key to this is a really low heat.   The rhubarb will cook through but will also keep its shape and take on the most beautiful ruby red colour.

Pile the cooled rhubarb on top of the custard, pour over a little of the coulis.   

Chill the tart for an hour or so and then enjoy those taste and texture sensations!








Saturday, 22 April 2017

Stuffed Monkey

Stuffed Monkey - how could I resist?
I found the recipe in 'English Food' by Jane Grigson, 1974.
My initial reaction was to wonder what on earth such
a recipe could be doing in the 'Teatime' section
along with cakes, scones, bread and buns.


Rest assured, no monkey was harmed in the making of this dish.

It is something of a mystery as to how it got such a name.
Jane Grigson got the recipe from a Jewish Cookbook
written by Florence Greenberg.



My interest was piqued, not least by the unusual name
and
also by the apparent simplicity of the dish.


Recipe

6 oz flour
Half tsp cinnamon
4 oz butter
4 oz soft brown sugar
1 egg, separated

Make a dough with the flour, cinnamon, butter, sugar and egg yolk, mix it as though making pastry.
Roll it out and cut into two rounds to fit into an 8 inch cake tin.
Fit the first round into the buttered tin.


1 1/2 oz butter
2 oz chopped peel
1 oz caster sugar
2 oz ground almonds
1 egg yolk

Melt the butter and then beat in all the other ingredients.
Spread the mixture over the pastry.
Cover with the second round.
Tuck the edges in neatly.
Brush with the egg white.
Bake at 190 C/375F for about 30 minutes.
Cool in the tin and then turn out carefully.



The outer case is crisp and flavoursome while the filling is almost marzipan-like,
 very dense, rich.
It is a fabulous teatime treat
or
a coffee-time treat.
Any time treat.
Indulge yourself!

Easy to make.
Stores well.
Tastes delicious.
Excellent!