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Feb 5, 2009 11:40 AM

British Cooking

Ever since I learned about Simon Hopkinson’s book Roast Chicken and Other Stories, and started to cook from it, I’ve become more and more interested in British cooking. I’ve cooked from a number of books, and have more to try (well, isn’t that always the case), but don’t think I’ve posted about them. So, I’m starting this thread, and will post on it from time to time. I think part of my fascination stems from the drubbing that British food has gotten over the years, and, from making just a few recipes, learning that traditional British food can be delicious. I know that some recipes from some of the books aren’t strictly British, but I am going to go ahead and post about them anyway!

Here are the books I have:

Jane Grigson: “English Food” & “Fruit”
Elizabeth David: “Elizabeth David’s Christmas”
Simon Hopkinson: “Week In, Week Out” & “Second Helpings of Roast Chicken”
The Duchess of Devonshire: "Chatsworth Cookery Book" (Yes, I'm a fan of the Mitford sisters.)
Annie Bell: "In My Kitchen"
William Black: “The Land that Thyme Forgot (“On a journey the length and breadth of the British Isles William Black talks to chefs, restaurateurs and producers, visits the great and the awful, and seeks out the country’s disappearing specialties – searching for the heart and soul of Britain through the food we eat, reclaiming our very rich culinary tradition.” Has recipes as well.)

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  1. “Elizabeth David’s Christmas”

    I bought this just before Christmas, and while I was set on serving Beef Wellington and Goin's Meyer Lemon Tarte for our Christmas dinner, I also cooked a number of things from this book.

    Prawn Paste - I poached shrimp, then mashed to a paste in a blender with olive oil, and you then season with cayenne pepper and warmed dry basil, adding fresh lime juice and then salt as needed. I refrigerated it, and then served it with toasted brioche to nibble on before Christmas dinner. We were all amazed at how wonderful the flavors were. Oh, and I did include a little ground cumin as she suggests, for "a more spiced flavor".

    Potato, Celery and Tomato Soup - I served this as a first course for Christmas dinner. It's a quick soup with those three ingredients, leeks, and enriched with egg yolks. You are supposed to push the soup through a sieve, but I was left with far too little "soup" after doing that, so I added some stock and blended it. It really was a tasty and refreshing little soup. You add chopped herbs at the end.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      From the same book:

      Spiced Beef Loaf – I made this one morning several days before Christmas, and it made for a lovely supper on a busy day. I had brought my Le Creuset pate terrine down to my mother’s, so I used it. The ingredients are straight forward – ground beef, bacon, dried basil (the second time she’s called for that – luckily my mother keeps it on hand, as I usually don’t), ground allspice, salt, peppercorns, garlic, port, and wine vinegar. You mix all of the ingredients together, then leave for a couple of hours before cooking. The recipe says to serve with sweet-sour pickled fruits, mild fruit chutney or a mustardy sauce. I’m not sure if Cumberland Sauce counts for any of these, but I’ve been wanting to make one for ages, and so I did. I also made a tart cranberry sauce that went well with it.

      Cumberland Sauce – I think I first saw reference to this sauce in one of Hopkinson’s books, and kept meaning to make it. David has quite a discussion about it, and then several versions of recipes. I made the uncooked version, which includes boiled orange rind, cut into matchsticks, red currant jelly, yellow Dijon mustard, pepper, salt, and the optional addition of some ground ginger, which I included. You heat this mixture up over a pot of hot water, until smooth, and sieve if necessary – I don’t recall whether or not I did that. Then, over the water again, add tawny port, and cook for five minutes. Serve cold. My mother and I both loved this sauce, and my husband thought it horrific, which struck me as very odd, as he usually likes strong flavors.

      1. re: MMRuth

        By the way, a lot of the Elizabeth David (and doubtlessly Jane Grigson etc although I didn't check) books can be located on for very little money. I just bought the Rose Prince New English Kitchen for under $8.00 including shipping from, through a link on Bookfinder, and was pointed to ED books as additional selections I might like...this way madness lies...

      2. Let me put in a pitch for an English dish that is much joked about but is actually delicious and quick, Beans on Toast. Dump a can of (heated) pork & beans ("baked beans" in the UK) over a piece of hot buttered whole wheat toast. Enjoy this with ketchup or "brown sauce" and some pickles. If you add a cup of tea the whole meal is called a "Bean Tea".

        3 Replies
        1. re: Querencia

          I do love those vegetarian Heinz baked beans in the green tin on toast.

          1. re: Querencia

            Funny, but Beans on Toast came up in a wonderful novel we're reading aloud these days (Case Histories) and both of us said "Yuck! How Could That Ever Be Good!!!" My husband thought they might put cheese on top and melt it...

            1. re: oakjoan

              I loved that book - I just bought her new one in fact.

              Beans on toast is great comfort food.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. For our anniversary this year, I decided to make the same Sea Trout in Champagne Sauce from "Week In, Week Out" as I had last year. However, no sea trout to be found, so I used two Branzino, and some French Chardonnay instead of the Cava I used last year. No photos, but it was still fabulous. Here's the link to the post from last year:

     - I also made his recipe for the new potatoes with caviar.

              Having been entranced by David's Prawn Paste, I made the Potted Smoked Salmon from "Week In, Week Out". Again, this was a simple dish that I wasn't sure about, but that both my husband and I loved, as did our guest the next evening. You saute chunks of smoked salmon in butter, then add sour cream, lemon juice and tarragon, spring onions (I used scallions), white pepper, a pinch of mace. Then put into ramekins and chill. Once chilled, add a layer of melted butter, and some sprigs of tarragon for garnish.

              Pink Grapefruit Granita - I made this for dessert. I'd made his tangerine one before, and loved this. This one benefits from several teaspoons of angostura bitters, and I served it with some golden raspberries and red currants. I was a little worried that the latter would be too tart with the granita, but they werent.

              49 Replies
              1. re: MMRuth

                I love potted shrimps - must try the potted smoked salmon.

                The only thing I've made from Week In, Week Out is the guinea fowl in red wine, which was fiddly, but fabulous.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  From an older post (I now have the moong dal, so look forward to trying this again):

                  "Fragrant duck 'pilaf' with lemon and mint" - the pilaf is made with moong dal, but I mistakenly used whole moong beans in the shell, so I had to cook them a bit longer and they weren't quite right, needless to say. The duck legs get browned first and then added back into the pilaf mixture and put into the oven. I thought they were a little tough, and I generally like my duck medium rare - so next time I might either cook longer, so they become more tender, or add them in towards the end of the cooking. I used a Meyer lemon, and thought that the dish could have had more mint and more lemon.


                  "Mandarin Granita" - I've never made granita before - this one called for using tangerine, satsuma or clementine juice, and I used tangerine juice that I bought at Whole Foods, adding some Caster Sugar and the juice of one Meyer lemon - it was light and delicious.


                  Apple and Horseradish Sauce

                  Calls for using Bramley apples - no idea what they are - so used some large red/yellowish apples the name of which I don't remember. Two large apples are peeled, cored and chopped, and brought to a boil w/ 3 T caster sugar, 1/4 cup water and 3 cloves, then stirred a bit as apples "collapse", then covered and cooked at very low heat for about 45 minutes. During that time I cleared my sinuses by grating some fresh horseradish for the first time - a 120 gram piece - but I didn't add all of it as it was plenty strong. Once the apples are done, you let them cool and add the juice of 1/2 large lemon, and the grated horseradish. This recipe is meant to accompany tafelspitz, but I served it with grilled smoked pork chops and Goins cabbage with onions and bacon (I skip the corn this time of year).


                  Salad of Green Beans with Anchovies

                  A very simple salad, with a mustard vinaigrette that is heavy on the oil (150 ml peanut oil and 150 ml olive oil to 1 T red wine vinegar - out of peanut oil, so used 2/3 olive oil, 1/3 grapeseed), and has 4 anchovies in it. You cook the beans for 3-4 minutes until tender (but they should not squeak, he says), and then compose the salad with the beans, spoon dressing on top, sprinkle with finely chopped shallots, and then add anchovies and some drizzled olive oil on top. Divine. I served this on a bed of arugula for some extra greens.

                  Chili Crab Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

                  This is apparently a salad that he replicated from the Oriental Hotel, which was served with pomelos, not grapefruit. The dressing is definitely a spicy Thai dressing:

                  Leaves of small bunch of cilantro
                  Leaves from 6 mint sprigs
                  2 cloves of garlic, chopped
                  4-5 small seeded and chopped green chilies (used two serranos and that was plenty hot
                  )1 T caster sugar
                  Juice of 4 large limes
                  8 T fish sauce
                  8 T tepid water

                  Mix together in food processor (or liquidiser, which is preferred, but I didn't check to see if that was a blender or something else!). Then you arrange "Little Gem" or similar lettuce (I used tender parts of Bibb lettuce), grapefruit segments, avocado (mine had lots of black spots, so the slices aren't too pretty), and white crabmeat (I used some inexpensive claw meat).


                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Bramley apples?

                    We differentiate between eating apples and cooking apples. Bramley is a cooking apple. One difference is that a cooker is invariably sourer than an eater. You would not want to bite into a Bramley. The other difference is that a cooker will collapse whils cooking, so that you have a ready made puree.

                    It's the apple we would normally use for, say, apple pie. And definately for apple sauce in the Harters household to go with roast pork (or latkes - which don't really appear in Brit cooking so I use my "New York Cookbook" for a recipe) For a sweeter more textured sauce, I occasionaly use half & half eater and cooker.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Right - I realized after that I had used the wrong kind. We do use some apples for both though - such as Golden Delicious, various red apples, and Granny Smith apples.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I'm in the preparatory stages of making the pork belly salad from Week In, Week Out - the recipes sounds fabulous, and I'll report back on Saturday. Now I just need to figure out where to hang the pork belly overnight, where the dog won't drive us mad.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I hate Delicious with a vengeance. It's a horribly tasteless apple, IMO.

                          Granny Smith will be along the right lines of sharpness to replicate a Bramley.

                          We have a couple of fruit farms about 25 miles away. Both grow a range of apples and have tasting sessions in the picking season, which is great fun. They turn them into juice as well. I don't drink alcohol these days and find apple juice is something not too sweet to drink with a meal at home. I currently have a couple of bottles of Bramley from one place and a couple of a Bramley/Cox mix from the other (which is new). Looking forward to seeing which I prefer.

                          1. re: Harters

                            That is good to know about the Granny Smith as a substitute for Bramleys. I think I use Golden Delicious for Tarte Tatin - will have to check the recipe.

                            By the way - the Hopkinson recipe for the pork belly calls for Heinz Salad Cream as an ingredient in the recipe. I'll try to find out what the ingredients are, but do you have any suggestions for a substitute?

                            Thank you.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I looked into the Heinz Salad Cream issue when a British friend was staying with me not too long ago. Some good info here:


                              1. re: MMRuth

                                MMRuth. If you haven't found it yet, it's easily available in the British Food sectiion at Fairway (and Meyers' of Keswick). Also a very good source for Marmite and Ribena..

                                1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                                  Thanks - I was hoping not to buy for this "one time use".

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    You might find you like it! I do - especially on that most excellent of lunches, the fishfinger sandwich.

                                    Anyway, take a look at the English lettuce salad in "Second Helpings". There's a recipe for salad cream there. Won't be quite the same as Heinz, though.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      It can always be used up in coleslaw.

                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                    I've got a feeling Simon himself has a recipe for homemade salad cream in one of the Roast Chicken books.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      Heinz Salad Cream is an iconic British condiment, which remains incredibly popular.

                                      It is an old-fashioned, sort-of-working-class substitute for proper mayo - dating from the time when proper mayo was deemed to be an effete (and, worse, "foreign") middle-class affectation. I hate the stuff. Mrs H, on the other hand, is an old-fashioned, sort-of-working-class sort of woman and loves it. :-)

                                      We have an expression here that gets adapted according to region along the lines of "You can take the girl out of Salford, but you can't take the Salford out of the girl". Salford is one of the two cities in our ten borough metropolitian area.

                                      Ingredients off the bottle (in order of quantity) - spirit vinegar , vegetable oil (25%), water, sugar, mustard, salt, egg yolks (3%), modified cornflour, stabilisers (guar gum or xanthan gum), colour - riboflavin. Yummy, eh?

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        Thanks so much - so - if I used use some thinned out mayonnaise, do you think that will do the trick?

                                        P.S. We use that expression here too.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Found a recipe online from Martha Stewart:


                                          I would think that if you thinned your mayo with vinegar and milk and added a bit of mustard and perhaps more S&P you'd be fairly close.

                                          So glad this came up. Will have to save it for my British friend's next visit.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Perfect - I have some creme fraiche that needs using up, so I'll give this a try.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              I have a feeling that Simon specifies Heinz salad cream for a reason. It's a bit like the tomato ketchup in the Vietnamese fried rice recipe. If you substitute, it won't be quite right. :-)

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                That's funny - I was thinking the *exact* same thing as I was posting earlier today!

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  So get some salad cream. Gwaan. You know you want to.

                                                  (And if you do, try it on a fish finger sandwich. Do you have fish fingers in the US?)

                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                    It's the trek to get it that is stopping me ... though I will look in my little local market that does have a surprising amount of British products. And yes, we do have fish fingers - and that sandwich sounds sort of obscenely delicious. The pork belly is in the oven now, after having hung in a "dry and draughty" place overnight. The salad cream is one component of the dressing ingredients for this dish - 3 T.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      It is delicious. Soft white roll. Crispy fish fingers. Floppy lettuce. Slice of tomato. Salad cream. YUM!

                                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                                      We just call them fish sticks. (I'm bilingual American and British).
                                                      P.S. my user name is actually a reference to a very obsure British food not to a childhood toy).

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Fish fingers (UK) = Fish sticks (USA).

                                                        Staple Friday night supper as a small Catholic child!

                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                no MMRuth, salad cream is vinegary and sweet at the same time, it is NOT mayo. But it can be bought in the British sections of Publix in Florida and all the British food mail order companies.

                                              3. re: Harters

                                                I love it too - just substitute Sheffield for Salford and that's me!

                                                (Some of my colleagues are trying to decide whether to move to Salford at the moment. They were taken on a coach tour of some of Manchester's more salubrious areas (Hale, Didsbury etc) to try to help them in their quandary!)

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  Is this the BBC move by any chance?

                                                  Hale = Footballers' wives. Porsche, BMW. Wine bars. Expensive olives from the deli. Restaurant owned by celeb chef

                                                  Didsbury = arty studenty. Bus or bike to work. Victorian pubs. Superb Red Leicester from one of the north's best cheese shops. Mini-chain restaurants and the odd gem (Cafe Jem&I - geddit?)

                                                  Both bloody expensive places - I couldnt afford this house if it was there.

                                                  MMR - mayo with vinegar might work for you as a substitute. And Mrs H confirms the use with the fish finger butty (although tartare sauce is her pref)

                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    It is.

                                                    You don't need to tell me - Mr GG is from Cheadle, remember.

                                                2. re: Harters

                                                  Well, I brought a bottle back from London, and JoanN was over for some birthday champagne early this evening (after a birthday champagne late lunch!), and I showed her the bottle. She said we should try it. Well, we both thought it was much sweeter than we had expected, and perhaps slightly more vinegary than Miracle Whip. Not something that I would want to dress a salad with. But, I'll use it the next time I make that SH pork belly recipe!

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    Happy birthday (a bit late ... only just saw the post)! Weirdly enough, I saw the salad cream in the local fancy foods place (Southern Season, for those from the area who might be interested). Husband says he grew up with it and finds it somewhat appealling. I couldn't get myself to buy it. Looked like miracle whip.

                                                3. re: MMRuth

                                                  I think Heinz salad cream tastes a lot like Miracle Whip!

                                                  1. re: Kagey

                                                    As I read through the above posts that's exactly what I was thinking... Miracle Whip.

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Well, that's the end of my curiosity about Heinz salad cream. Miracle Whip is one of the foods put on earth to torment us and make us gag with disgust.

                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        Oh I so totally agree with you.

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          I brought a bottle back from London with me, but have yet to taste it!

                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                          Crispy belly pork salad -

                                          This is one of the best things I've eaten in quite a while. The skin of the pork belly is scored, with salt rubbed into it, and then you rub the flesh with a mixture of white pepper and Chinese Five Spice mixture. I wrapped it in some cheesecloth and hung it in a window over night (my "dry and draughty" place). I'll mention that I found it quite hard to score the skin, and ended up scoring it much deeper than I think is intended. The next day I roasted the pork belly - you put the pork stock ingredients (including water, chopped up pig's foot, orange peel, soy sauce, sherry, scallions, garlic and dried chili flakes) in a roasting pan, then put the pork belly on a rack on top. Cook at 450, then 350, then back up to 450 again.

                                          Then you simmer the stock further on the stove top, adding the bones from the belly. He said those should slide out quite easily, but mine didn't and I had to cut them out. Stock is strained, degreased etc., and chilled until it becomes jellied.

                                          The dressing - well, I used Dijon mustard instead of English mustard, mayonnaise with a little vinegar instead of the Heinz salad cream, and then followed instructions adding in the sugar, garlic, peanut butter, tahini, roasted sesame seeds and bottle chili sauce.

                                          The salad - the recipe calls for watercress, but I had a lot of arugula to use up, and used it instead, though it probably wasn't as pepper as watercress would have been. Tossed the arugula with sliced cucumbers and shredded scallions, plated, drizzled with dressing, then added the slices of pork belly, which you then "paint" with the jellied stock. Lastly, I sprinkled on the cilantro and mint leaves, sesame seeds and sliced green chilies. The last bit of the recipe says " - and then give yourself a jolly good pat on the back"!

                                          I also cooked some spaghetti (because I couldn't find any other noodles at that moment) and tossed them with some of the pork stock, dressing, scallions, cilantro and chopped up pork, then drizzled with some sesame oil. This was also delicious. We have about half the pork left, and I'm going to make the Momofuku Ssam steamed buns tomorrow so that we can have the pork with the buns for dinner.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                The next day I sliced up the remaining pork belly, and warmed it up in the left over pork stock, and served it with Chinese steamed buns, with hoisin sauce, scallions and cucumber - and some cilantro, I think. The buns didn't turn out quite as nicely this time - not sure why.

                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                Phwoar. That looks and sounds absolutely scrumptious. Consider yourself patted on the back.

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  gg: Ottolenghi has a pork belly recipe in THE BOOK (harps and a chorus singing "aaaaAAAAAAAAh" softly in the background.

                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                    I know. Sadly I am trying to lose weight at the moment. It's not going very well, which means I may give up soon and cook it!

                                                2. re: MMRuth

                                                  What a gorgeous looking hunk of pork belly! Where did you get that? Arthur Avenue?

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    Yes - at Peter's, next to Mike's.

                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                    Wait, that's not an OPEN window, is it? Because that would make the whole endeavor even more heroic.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        I don't think I'd do that in the Bay Area in February, much less in NY. That's real dedication to the recipe! I did open the window in NY in December to cool pans of caramels, but that only took a half hour or so.

                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                          It's not that much dedication - the window is in a tiny room off our bedroom that has become a bit of a junk room. With the door closed, it doesn't make our room any colder!

                                                3. These are all very interesting. Makes me want to have a "Second Helping" of Hopkinson!


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I think the only recipe I've made from that book (grin) is the duck soup, but I've made it numerous times now, and it truly is wonderful, and a great use of a duck carcass:


                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      I made the pea and ham soup from "Second Helpings" the other day with some leftover stock from cooking a piece of gammon. Simple and delicious.