Top Ten Modern British Cooking . Very British. Very Fancy

Top Ten Modern British Cooking

  British cooking has gone through many changes, with different approaches to ingredients resulting in varied tastes and styles. Thirty years ago, the UK has a poor reputation throughout the culinary world and little respect. 

  However, British cooking has changed. As we move into another century, the food we eat is light years away from what it was, when we British were still largely insular in our tastes - and certainly very limited in our home cooking aspirations. 

  The way our cooking has changed to embrace other cultural styles and the ingredients we buy from an increasingly global larder make our kitchens more international by the day. Things most of us had never heard of a few years ago are now commonplace on supermarket shelves. 

  We have taken British ideas from yesterday and refine them for tomorrow. These recipes, with their rejuvenated flavours, are here to be enjoyed, and to revive your feelings for good traditional cookery, as well as giving you new culinary inspiration. And, of course, they can be adapted to suit your own taste. 

  Serves 4 

450g Mashed Potato Sauce
½ bottle red wine
250ml veal or beef stock
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 boned best-end loins of lamb, with fat removed, bones reserved
15ml cooking oil

  For the Irish cabbage: 
  1 small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded 
  1 large carrot, peeled & thinly sliced Butter 
  2 onions, sliced 
  4 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into thin strips 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 

  For the parsley purée: 
  Small bunch flat leaf parsley, picked & washed 
  Small bunch curly parsley, picked & washed 
  50g spinach, picked & washed 
  15ml groundnut oil 
  30ml water 
  Salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg 

      Grilled Lamb with Irish Cabbage & Mashed Potato Sauce 

  The Irish cabbage is basically taking the flavours from a traditional Irish stew - onions, cabbage, carrots - and frying them all as a base for the lamb. We're also adding a parsley puree to this recipe, which gives an extra touch and parsley, of course, is another classic with Irish stew. 

  The lamb tastes at its best in this recipe when cooked on a grill plate. It can, however, be pan-fried and roasted. 


  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. 

  For the parsley purée, blanch both types of parsley leaves in boiling, salted water for a few minutes until tender. Drain both and mix with the spinach. These can now be put into a food processor and whizzed to a puree, adding the oil, water and seasonings. Push through a fine sieve to give a smooth parsley purée. If the purée is too thick, then simply loosen with a touch more water. 

  Make the Mashed Potato Sauce. 

  The red wine needs to be boiled to reduce by three-quarters. Add the jus and simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

  To cook the lamb, season with salt and pepper and brush with oil. The loins can now be grilled on a hot grill pan, turning from time to time to seal all the meat. It is best to allow the meat to colour richly, with almost burnt edges. This goes very well with the natural sweetness of the lamb itself. The lamb will take 8 to 10 minutes to grill to medium stage. 

  If pan-frying to seal and then roasting, the lamb will need 8 to 10 minutes' roasting for a medium finish. 

  Once cooked, leave the lamb to rest for 6 to 8 minutes before carving. 

  For the cabbage, blanch the finely shredded cabbage in salted, boiling water for ½ to 1 minute, until just tender. Drain. 

  The carrots can be left raw, if very thinly sliced, or they can be blanched for a minute to take the raw edge off them. 

  Heat a wok or frying-pan and add the butter. Once bubbling, add the onions and carrots. Allow to fry to a light golden colour and just-soft texture. In a separate pan. fry the bacon without butter. The bacon will create its own fat and quickly become quite crisp. Add the bacon to the onions and carrots. It is now time to add the cabbage. Fry, allowing the cabbage to take on some golden-edged tinges, and season with salt and pepper. 

  Each loin gives two portions. Just before carving, the loins can he brushed with the red-wine sauce to give a good finished shine. Carve the lamb, allowing 4 or 5 slices per portion. 

  Spoon the cabbage into the centre of the plates. The mashed potato sauce can now be spooned around the outside, creating a border. Trickle some parsley puree around, along with the red-wine sauce, offering any extra separately. 

  Sit the lamb slices on top of the cabbage and serve immediately. 

  Chef's Note: 

  This dish has many components but it is a complete meal in itself. If you want a simpler recipe, the lamb can just be served with the cabbage, leaving out the potato sauce and parsley purée. 

  Serves 6 

  3 x 450g red mullet, filleted, scaled & pin-boned by your fishmonger 
  Plain flour, for coating 
  45ml olive oil 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 
  6 x Garlic Cream Potato Cakes (link), to serve 

  For the soup: 
  30ml olive oil 
  2 medium carrots. finely sliced 
  1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced 
  2 celery sticks, finely sliced 
  4 shallots, finely sliced 
  Red mullet bones from fillets, with heads 
  ½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds 
  1 star anise 
  2 strips of orange peel 
  ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes 
  Pinch of saffron strands 
  Few sprigs of basil 
  Few sprigs of tarragon 
  50ml Pernod 
  6 ripe large tomatoes, preferably plum, cut into 8 
  2 teaspoons tomato purée 
  300ml white wine 
  1.2 litres fish stock 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 
  Lemon juice 

  To garnish: 
  4 plum tomatoes, blanched & peeled 
  1 large leek, cut into 1cm dice 
  25g butter 

  To serve: 
  6 x Garlic Cream Potato Cakes 

      Pan Fried Red Mullet in a Tomato & Leek Soup 

  Red mullet have been called `the woodcock of the sea' because, like the game bird, they are traditionally cooked whole, not gutted, which lends flavour. Here, though, they are filleted, and the fillets are pan-fried, then placed on top of a potato cake, and served with tomato and leek soup. It makes a good main course. 

  This dish is not quite as simple as it sounds. The tomato and leek soup is made from a long, slow-cooking, mullet soup base. The ingredients are similar to those for a lobster or crab bisque, but holding a very distinctive tang of the fish's own flavour. 


  First, make the garnish. Once the tomatoes have been blanched and peeled, halve lengthways and remove all seeds. The flesh can now be cut into 1cm dice to match the leeks. Any trimmings from the tomatoes and leeks can be used in the soup. 

  The diced leek can now also be blanched in boiling, salted water. On boiling, drop in the leeks and cook, without a lid, for 30 to 45 seconds. Drain in a colander and leave the leeks to cool naturally. Once at room temperature, refrigerate, along with the tomatoes. 

  To make the soup, pre-heat the oven to 150°C. Warm the olive oil in a suitable braising pan. Add the carrots, fennel, celery, shallots and any leek trimmings. On a low heat, cook for 20 minutes to soften but not colour. 

  Chop the mullet bones, heads included, and add to the vegetables, along with the coriander seeds, star anise, orange peel, dried chilli, saffron and herbs. Continue to cook for a further 5 or 6 minutes. Now add the Pernod and half of the tomatoes. Stir well, place in the pre-heated oven and cook without a lid for 1½ to 2 hours. 

  It is important during this slow cooking time that the mix is stirred every 20-30 minutes; this will ensure an even cooking. 

  After 1½ hours, add the rest of the tomatoes, tomato puree, white wine and fish stock. Cook for the further 30 minutes. 

  Remove from the oven and bring to the simmer. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. The soup can now be totally liquidized (including bones), then pushed through a coarse, followed by a fine, sieve. 

  After being sieved, the soup will have a beautifully rich, smooth, full-flavoured finish. Season again with salt and pepper, adding a squeeze of lemon juice, if needed, to lift the taste even more. 

  To pan-fry the mullet, season the fish with salt and pepper. Very lightly flour the skin side and then brush with butter. 

  For six portions, heat two large frying-pans with 45ml olive oil. Once hot, place the fish in the pans, skin-side down. Cook for 3 minutes, by which time the skins will have become golden and crispy. Turn the fish over and continue to cook for 1 or 2 minutes. 

  Add the reserved leeks and tomatoes to the finished soup (butter can also be added and stirred in, if needed). 

  The Garlic Cream Potato Cakes, if hot, can now be placed in the bowls. If made previously, then simply microwave to heat through. Spoon the soup and garnish around generously and finish by presenting the mullet on top of the potato. 

  There is a lot of cooking time to reach this result, but there is even more pleasure enjoying it. 

  Chef's Note 

  You may find the quantity of soup made is greater than needed. If this is the case the soup can be frozen, keeping it ready for the next dinner party. 

  Alternatively you can enjoy the soup as it is. 

  Many other fish can also be used in place of the red mullet: sea 

  Serves 4 as a starter; 2 as main course 

  For the beef: 
  350 - 450g beef fillet 
  1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns 
  Oil or butter 

  For the salad: 
  3 red onions 
  30ml olive oil 
  30ml groundnut oil 
  30ml balsamic vinegar 
  A squeeze of lemon juice 
  10 very thin slices of French bread, halved 
  225 - 350g mixed green leaves 
  100g Stilton cheese. Broken 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 

  For the dressing: 
  45ml port 
  2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
  30ml red-wine vinegar 
  60ml walnut oil 
  60ml groundnut oil 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 

      Peppered Beef Fillet with Stilton & Red Onion Salad 

  Basically, nothing could be more British than this combination of the very English Stilton cheese and beef. It harks back to the great compound salads of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The dish is very lively, full of amazing flavours - one of those dishes you just can't get enough of. 

  The pickled red onions are delicious in themselves and can he served as part of any salad or to accompany a ploughman's lunch. 

  It's a great dish for a dinner party. It suits best as a starter, but 1 would be happy to serve just large plates of this dish for a main course, with a good bottle of red. This helps you get away from the standard three courses that give you far too much pressure, and your friends will have more than enough flavours to enjoy. A lot of the work can also be done well in advance - the beef fillet can be prepared and peppered, the red onions cooked and pickled, the Stilton broken down and the dressing made. 


  First, roll the beef in the crushed black peppercorns. The meat will start to take on the pepper flavour and can be left until needed. The onions and dressing can now both be prepared and kept until you are completing the dish. 

  Let's start with the onions. Cut them into 6-8 wedges, keeping the root of the onion in place to prevent them from falling apart. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the cut onions and cook for 2 minutes. 

  Warm together the oils, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Drain the onions and add them to the oil and vinegar mix. Remove this from the heat, season with salt and pepper and leave the onions to marinate at room temperature, turning every so often to ensure an even flavour. The onions will eat at their best after a minimum 1 or 2 hours, so these can quite easily be prepared in the morning for an evening meal. 

  To make the dressing, boil and reduce the port by half and allow to cool. Mix the mustard with the red-wine vinegar. Whisk together the oils and pour slowly on to the mustard and vinegar mixture, while continuing to whisk vigorously. Once all has been added, whisk in the reduced port and season with salt and pepper. 

  The French bread slices can be crisped by trickling with oil and either toasting or baking in a hot oven. 

  To roast the beef fillet, pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Heat an oven-proof frying-pan and trickle with a drop of oil or knob of butter. Add the fillet and colour to a deep seared effect all round. Now finish by roasting in the hot oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. This will keep the beef nice and pink in the centre. Up to 20 minutes will make it medium-well to well done. 

  Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for another 10 to 12 minutes. This will totally relax the meat and also make it just warm for serving. 

  To finish the dish, mix the red onions (out of the marinade) with the green leaves and blue cheese. Add some of the red wine/port dressing to bind. Slice the beef, allowing three thin slices per portion, and overlap on each plate. Divide the salad, sitting it towards the top of the plate. Trickle over some more of the dressing and sit the crispy toasts on top. 

  Chef's Note: 

  The port and mustard dressing can be excluded from this recipe and the marinade used to replace it. A splash or two of port can be added to the marinade, along with mustard, if preferred. 

  One egg yolk can be added to the vinegar and mustard before adding the oils to the dressing. This will give a creamier finish. 

  Serves 4 as starter; 2 as main course 

  700 - 900g fresh mussels, bearded, washed and scrubbed 
  450g halibut fillet 
  4 baby pencil leeks, cut into 1cm pieces, or 2 medium leeks, split lengthways and sliced 
  700 - 900g Mashed Potatoes 

  For the mussel cooking liquor: 
  1 onion, sliced 
  Leek trimmings (from leeks above) 
  1 garlic clove, peeled 
  Few tarragon leaves 
  300ml cider 
  600ml fish stock 

  For the sauce: 
  35g butter 
  35g plain flour 
  Mussel cooking liquor (above) 
  150ml double cream 
  A squeeze of lemon juice 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 
      Fish, Mussel & Leek Cider Pie 

  Fish pies were a poor man's meal. Almost any fish could be cooked and served in a liquor or sauce topped with pastry, crumble mixes or mashed potato we prefer the mashed potato topping, which needs jus to be finished under the grill for a golden top. Pastry tops, once cooked, will often lead to an overcooked filling underneath. 

  These pies can be quite cheap to make. It really depends on what fish is happening underneath. We're going to be extravagant here, using halibut, which is not cheap but does hold together well. Cod, haddock, hake and monkfish can be substituted, as can many other fish. The mussels can be replaced by prawns or shrimps, and the leeks by mushrooms or sweet peppers. 

  The sauce is made with the cidery mussel cooking liquor, which will hold all the flavours and maintain a good consistency. 


  To cook the mussels, melt the knob of butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions, leek trimmings, garlic and tarragon leaves. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Pour in the cider, boil and reduce by three-quarters. Add the mussels and fish stock, cover with a lid and cook on a fast heat. Shake the pan and stir the mussels until opened. This will take just a few minutes. 

  Remove all of the mussels and reduce the cooking liquor by a quarter. Any mussels unopened should be discarded; then take out the cooked mussels from the open shells, removing any shell or grit in the flesh. Strain the cooking liquor through a sieve, covering the mussels with just a ladleful to keep them moist. 

  For the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan, adding the flour. Cook for a few minutes, allowing the mix to take on a sandy colour and texture. Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring it into the flour mix until all has been added. 

  Bring the sauce to a soft simmer and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. It is important to stir the sauce from time to time, to prevent it from sticking. The sauce can be finished with the double cream and squeeze of lemon juice for a richer finish. Extra cider can be boiled, reduced and added to give a stronger cider flavour. Check and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. 

  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. The halibut can now be lightly poached in some of the liquor that is keeping the mussels moist. Place the fish fillet on a buttered dish and add a few tablespoons of the cooking liquor. Cover with buttered greaseproof paper and cook in the pre-heated oven for just a few minutes to firm the fillet. Remove from the oven. The fillet can now be broken into large flakes. 

  Melt a knob of butter and cook the leeks for a few minutes until softened and tender. 

  Mix together the leeks, fish and mussels, checking the mussels have been properly bearded and no shell or grit is in the flesh. 

  Take half of the sauce and mix it in to bind the mussels, leeks and fish. More may be needed to loosen slightly but it is best not to make the mix too wet. (Any extra sauce can be served separately.) Spoon the mix into a suitable ovenproof dish. If preparing to eat later, then leave to cool. If not, then spoon or pipe the hot Mashed Potatoes on top. The pie can now be lightly brushed with butter and glazed in a hot oven at 230°C. This will take just 8 to 10 minutes. The dish can also be finished by colouring under a hot grill. It is now ready to serve. 

  If the pie mix was allowed to cool, once cold, pipe the potato over. This can now be refrigerated until needed. To re-heat and glaze, place in a pre­heated oven at 190°C for 25 to 30 minutes. To glaze, finish under the grill. 

  Chef's Note: 

  This dish will go very well with some buttered spinach. Brushed egg, or melted cheese, or white breadcrumbs can also be used to glaze the potato topping. 

  Serves 6 

  4 green dessert apples, peeled, cored and quartered Butter 
  50g caster sugar 
  225g blackberries, washed 1 tablespoon blackberry jam 

  For the sponge: 
  100g unsalted butter 
  150g caster sugar 4 eggs 
  1 egg yolk 
  200g self-raising flour 
  ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
  15 - 30ml of milk, if needed 

      Steamed Upside-Down Blackberry Apple Pudding 

  Steamed puddings are direct descendants of the puddings that used to be wrapped in pudding cloths and suspended in the cooking pot. Apples have always been a favourite ingredient, and their combination with blackberries - which are around at the same time of the year - is very traditional. 

  The marriage usually appears in pies, where the fruits are encased in sweet pastry, but here we have steamed a light lemon and cinnamon sponge on top of the fruits. Once cooked, the pudding is turned out upside-down. We always save some of the topping to garnish the pudding making it even fruitier. 


  Butter and flour a 900ml pudding bowl or six 150 ml individual bowls. 

  Halve each apple quarter, giving eight wedges per apple. These can now also be halved, cutting through the middle, creating pieces, rather than thin slices. 

  Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan, adding the apples and caster sugar. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes before adding the blackberries and blackberry jam. Stir in and remove from the heat. Leave to cool. Top Ten Modern British Cooking . Very British. Very Fancy

  To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar together until almost white and the sugar has dissolved. This stage can be easily achieved in an electric mixer. 

  Beat together the eggs and egg yolk. These can now be slowly poured in while the butter is whisking. Mix in completely until light and fluffy. 

  Sift the flour with the cinnamon and fold in, with the lemon zest, until completely incorporated, adding the milk as necessary to create a dropping consistency. 

  Spoon half of the apple and blackberry mix into the pudding bowl(s). Top with the pudding mix and cover with greaseproof paper or tin foil, with a fold in the centre to create space for the rising pudding. Place in a steamer or on a trivet in a saucepan, and steam. Individual puddings will take 35 to 40 minutes and a large pudding 1 to 1½ hours. Top up with water as necessary during cooking. 

  Once cooked, remove from the steamer and leave to rest for 5 minutes before turning out. During this resting time the remaining blackberry and apple mix can be re-heated. This will soften both fruits. 

  Once the sponge has been turned out, spoon the extra fruits on top, allowing them to tumble onto the plate. 

  This pudding, as with almost all steamed sponges, will eat well with pouring cream or custard. 

  Serves 2 

  2 x 175 - 225g cod fillet portions, boned 
  A squeeze of lemon juice 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 
  225g self-raising flour, sieved 
  300ml lager 

      Deep Fried Cod in Batter 

  This must be one of the most famous fish dishes in the whole of the British Isles, and yet it's not often cooked at home, but bought wrapped in paper from the local chippie. 

  Battering your own cod is not difficult at all, providing you have either a deep fat fryer or a very large saucepan. This cooking method for fish was first introduced using the batter simply to protect the fish during its cooking time. Once deep-fried and golden brown, the fish was presented on the plate and served and the eater would cut away and discard the batter to enjoy just the fish. 

  The batter eventually became an edible and enjoyed component of the dish and has stuck since. We have strong feelings about the purpose of the batter: yes, it's got to be flavoursome and crisp, but, equally important, it's got to be thick enough to protect the fish itself. 

  If a thick batter is used and it is slowly and carefully submerged into the pre-heated fat (beef dripping is the most classic cooking fat, but a good quality cooking oil will work just as well), it will form a protective casing around the fish itself. While the fat cooks the batter, it will begin to soufflé and become crispy with the heat steaming the fish. 

  The cod fillet will now have the most beautiful natural flavour with near-translucent flakes to enjoy, surrounded by fried, crispy, almost crackling-style batter. It really cannot be beaten. 

  If a very thin batter is used, it will not soufflé. Instead it will wrinkle all over the fish, sticking to the flesh and never hold crispness (as we find in most chippies). Once removed from the fryer, the fish juices will bleed, moistening the already softening batter so that by the time you are home the fish will have stuck to the paper it's wrapped in. It's a good idea to invest in a fat fryer and, once you've made your own battered cod, we doubt you'll buy the ready-made stuff again. 

  A good wedge of lemon goes well with the fish along with Tartar Sauce and Home Made Chips for the perfect supper. 


  Pre-heat the fat-fryer oil to 180°C. 

  Leaving the skin on the cod fillets holds the fillet together when it's passed through the batter and placed in the oil. Squeeze a little lemon juice over each fillet and season with salt and pepper. These can now be lightly floured before making the hatter. 

  To make the hatter, place the sieved flour into a large howl. Whisk in three-quarters of the lager. At this point check the consistency of the hatter: it should be very thick, almost too thick. If it appears to be over-gluey, whisk in a little more lager to loosen slightly. Season with a pinch of salt. The cod fillets can now be passed, one at a time, through the batter mix. It's best to hold the fillet at the thin end (in one corner) between thumb and forefinger. Coat the fish in the hatter and lift from the bowl. Some of the batter will begin to fall away slowly. If the batter falls away quickly, it means it's too thin, in which case add a tablespoon or two more of flour. 

  Don't allow too much of the batter to fall off before placing in the deep hot oil. Submerge only an inch at a time and, once three-quarters of the fish is in, the batter will lift the fillet, floating the fish. Submerge the remaining fillet in the same way, being careful not to burn your fingers. 

  Allow to cook for 2 or 3 minutes before turning the fish over. At this point the fish will not be golden brown but the batter will have sealed and souffléd. Cook until golden brown all round. A thick slice of cod will take up to 12 minutes to cook, an average fillet 9 or 10 minutes. 

  Once cooked, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and serve. 

  Chef's Note: 

  The batter quantities can be doubled to give enough for 4 to 6 portions. 

  For an extra garnish, deep-fry curly parsley in the oil. Plunge the parsley carefully into the hot fat as the oil tends to spit. When this calms down after a minute or two, remove the parsley from the pan and lightly salt. 

  Serves 6 - 8 

  300 - 350 g sweet shortcrust pastry, defrosted if froze 
  750 - 900g fresh rhubarb 
  60 - 75g caster sugar 

  For the crème patisserie: 
  4 egg yolks 
  75g caster sugar Salt 
  25g cornflour 
  300 ml milk 
  10ml vanilla essence 
  35ml double cream 
  25g unsalted butter 

      Rhubarb Tart 

  Rhubarb is native to northern Asia, and did not reach Britain until the sixteenth century. It was used medicinally at first, and was not valued as a food until at least the eighteenth century. 

  Home-made fresh fruit tarts are so seductive, the juicy fresh fruits sitting on top of a good home­made pastry cream - creme patisserie in French - in a crisp pastry case. They really are very special to eat. For rhubarb we prefer to use sweet shortcrust pastry. This gives the crumbly texture needed to balance against the cream and soft texture of the fruit. 

  The pastry case and cream will work as a lovely base for a tart made with almost any fruit - fresh raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, as well as any pre-cooked fruits (apricots, damsons, gooseberries, plums and so on). 


  Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. 

  Roll the pastry on a floured surface to approximately 3 mm thick, and use it to line a flan ring of 20 - 25cm diameter and 2.5 - 3.5cm deep. To guarantee a clean finish with no shrinking of the pastry, it's best to have any excess hanging over the edge of the ring. (Once baked, this can be cut away with a sharp knife.) Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, and refrigerate for 20 minutes before baking. 

  Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and baking beans or rice. Blind-bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven, taking out the beans or rice and paper, trim the overhanging pastry and leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. 

  To prepare the rhubarb, first peel it if slightly tough and stringy. Now cut it into 2 - 3cm sticks and place in a roasting tray. Sprinkle with the sugar. place in the oven, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. The rhubarb can now he carefully spooned from the tray, and any juices brought to the boil and reduced to a syrupy consistency. The rhubarb is now ready to use. 

  For a different finish, stand the cooked rhubarb on a baking tray, lightly dust with icing sugar and glaze under a hot grill or with a blow torch. This will give the fruit slightly burnt, bitter-sweet tinges, creating another flavour and colour. Leave to cool. 

  Meanwhile, make the pastry cream. Cream together the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl. Add a small pinch of salt and the cornflour. Bring the milk to the boil with the split and scraped vanilla pod (or essence) and pour onto the egg-yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the pan, bring back to the simmer and cook for a few minutes, making sure it doesn't boil. Add the double cream and butter and then pass through a sieve. Press a piece of greaseproof paper or cling film onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool. The fresh, vanilla-tasting pastry cream is ready to use. You will need approximately 400ml; any excess will last well in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. 

  When all the tart components are cold, the tart can be assembled. Spread the pastry cream into the flan ring, and fill to approximately 1cm deep. Now sit the fruit on top, either carefully arranged on the cream or merely spooned over in a more rustic fashion. Brush the syrup over the rhubarb for a more flavoursome finish. The tart is now ready to enjoy, with the tender fruits and rich cream balanced by the crumbly pastry. 

  Chef's Note: 

  Try using custard powder instead of cornflour for an even more intense flavour. 

  The quantities for this pastry cream recipe can be halved for a shallow mould. Once cooled, any remaining cream can be refrigerated for 3 or 4 days, or used as a base for individual fruit tartlets. 

  Serves 4 

  175g trompettes de mort mushrooms, or available alternative 
  175g chanterelles or girolles mushrooms, or available alternative 
  75 - 100g morels (optional) 
  150g pleurottes (oyster mushrooms), or available alternative 
  4 plump partridges, including livers and hearts 
  4 fresh thyme sprigs 
  1 large garlic clove, quartered 
  50g butter 
  30ml groundnut oil 
  300ml chicken 
  45ml Madeira 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 

  For the toasts and pâté: 
  2 large shallots, finely chopped 
  50 - 75g foie gras, chicken-liver pate or tinned pâté de foie gras 
  4 thick slices of granary bread 

      Roast Partridges with Their Own Toasts & Wild Mushrooms 

  The Romans used to pen and rear partridges, and probably expect they roasted them over or in front of the fire, just as we have continued to do in Britain for centuries. The season for partridge runs between September and February. 

  During the nineteenth century partridges were one of Britain's most common game birds. The grey legged variety is native to Britain, and many years ago it could be found in abundance. Now it has to be bred, and is not as common as the red legged variety, introduced in the seventeenth century from France. These are reasonably easy to find and larger than the grey legged, but lack the intense flavour. They are, however, beautiful-looking birds, and a joy to cook and eat. 

  The history of accompaniments in Britain, as it is everywhere else, is to do with seasons. Partridges are best in autumn, which is when we also find most of our wild mushrooms, so it is almost culinary law that they will go together. For a good combination of flavour and colour, choose a mixture of trompettes de mort (black trumpets or trumpets of death), which have a strong earthy flavour; chanterelles or girolles, which are a rich orange colour and have a sort of apricot and pepper nose; morels, which are a rather scarce wild mushroom and only available during the spring months, for a nutty flavour; and pleurottes (oyster mushrooms). These last mushrooms are now cultivated, but can still be found wild. They range from an oyster-grey colour through to a yellowish brown. They are best eaten young, for a bitter flavour takes over as they age. Alternatively, you can buy a bag or two of mixed wild mushrooms. It's important, particularly for the trompettes, that the mushrooms are well washed. 

  Dried morels are more readily available and once soaked come back to life very well. The water they have been soaked in can be strained through a sieve or muslin and used as a wild mushroom stock when making the sauce. If using these instead of fresh, 50g will be sufficient. 

  The toast base for the bird is an echo of the medieval bread slice or trencher which acted as a plate for pieces of meat or bird (and was later often given to the poor). These toasts are topped with a mix made from the liver and heart of the bird, along with one or two other flavours for a quite delicious finish. 

  For a special treat we also like to add one more flavour to this dish, but it is expensive - foie gras! It's not essential but completely lifts the dish. 

  A good-quality chicken liver pate or tinned foie gras can be substituted if fresh is unavailable. Both foie gras and chicken liver pate can be bought loose or tinned from delicatessen counters. 


  Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. 

  The first task is to prepare the mushrooms - whichever type you're using. For trompettes de mort, split the mushrooms lengthways, cutting away the base of the stalk. These must now be washed well, removing the small gritty granules found inside. Wash and rinse carefully two or three times. Leave to drain on a thick cloth. 

  Large chanterelles or girolles will need to be cut in halves or quarters; small ones can be left whole. Trim away any bruised tops, scraping the stalks and cutting away the base. Wash two or three times before also draining on a cloth. 

  If using morels, trim away the base of the stalk and split lengthways in half. Again, wash two or three times before draining on a cloth. 

  For pleurottes (oyster mushrooms), cut away the thick stalks. The cultivated variety need not be washed but instead wiped carefully all over with a cloth. If the mushrooms are large, then simply tear into strips. 

  Untie the prepared birds, keeping the liver and heart from each to one side. Place a sprig of thyme, piece of garlic, small knob of butter and some salt and pepper in each cavity. Season the outside, replace the piece of back fat and re-tie the partridges. 

  The livers and hearts can now be chopped coarsely and kept to one side. 

  For the toasts, melt the butter and add the finely chopped shallots. Cook for a few minutes, without colouring, until softened; remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cold, mix the chopped livers and hearts with the shallots. If you've got foie gras, chop it finely add to the mix. If unavailable, add chicken liver or tinned foie gras pâté. Season with salt and pepper. The topping for the toasts is now ready. 

  Heat a roasting pan with some groundnut oil. Place the seasoned birds in the tray on one leg side. Add a knob of butter and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until well coloured. Turn over onto the other leg and repeat the same cooking time. Now turn each bird breast-side down to seal for a further 2 or 3 minutes. 

  Turn onto their backs and roast in the pre­heated oven for 6 minutes. If the birds are particularly plump, roast for an extra 1 or 2 minutes. 

  Remove from the oven and place the birds upside-down onto a clean tray or plate, so all juices run into the breasts. Keep the roasting tray with all the juices. Leave the birds to rest for 6 to 8 minutes. 

  Spread the toast topping onto the bread using all of the mix. and cut into isosceles triangles (with two sides of equal length). Put the roasting tray on a medium heat and place the triangles, bread-side down, in the sediment and oils left in the pan. Pan­fry the breads for a few minutes, to crisp and absorb all of the flavours. Now remove the breads. sit on a baking tray and finish, topping-side-up, under a medium grill. Toast for a few minutes, heating the mix through. 

  Heat a large frying-pan or wok. Add a tablespoon of oil and, once very hot, add the chanterelles and morels if using. Toss in the pan for about a minute before adding the remaining mushrooms. (If using a mixed bag of mushrooms, simply fry them all together.) Add a knob of butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes. 

  Warm the stock, adding the Madeira to taste. This sauce holds a very loose consistency. For a slightly thicker sauce and stronger flavour, reduce by half. The sauce is now ready. 

  The partridges can now be untied, and the fat and the legs removed and trimmed to a neat finish. Remove the breasts. The skin of the breasts can be left on or removed. Squeeze each carcass, allowing all the juices to run through a sieve and into the game sauce for extra flavour. 

  Place the triangle toasts in howls or on plates. Point them towards the top of the plate. Sit the two breasts side by side on top of the lower part of the triangle. The legs can now be placed with thigh towards the top, recreating the shape of the bird. Spoon the mixed wild mushrooms around and finish with the sauce, in a reasonably generous quantity, on top of the mushrooms. The dish is now ready to serve. 

  Chef's Note: 

  Mashed Potatoes are lovely with this dish. The toast trimmings (left over when cut into triangles) can also be warmed and enjoyed. 

  Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a light main course 

  4 slices of thick-sliced white, brown or granary bread, crusts removed 
  4 poached or just-set hard-boiled eggs (boil in salted water for 8 minutes only) 
  4 rashers of thick-sliced back or streaky bacon 
  4 Little Gem lettuces, leaves separated & rinsed (2 small Cos can also be used; tear the leaves into suitable strips) 
  60ml red wine vinegar 
  45ml olive oil 
  4 spring onions, washed & finely shredded 
  Salt & freshly ground black pepper 

      Egg & Bacon Salad 

  The British egg salad holds the reputation of floppy salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, radish and beetroot all bound with bottled salad cream. We think that British food has moved on from those days, but salads were once a great feature of British cookery. 

  Hard-boiled eggs have been used in salads since Elizabethan times, in the forerunners of the great composite salads of the seventeenth century. The base of the salads would be flowers and leaves, perhaps some cucumber, dressed with oil and vinegar, then the eggs placed on top. Often slices of cold fowl or meat or pieces of fish would he added as well. 

  This egg salad has taken on bacon as its accompaniment, a traditional and very British marriage. Within the recipe, various cooking alternatives are mentioned: poaching or boiling the eggs, frying or grilling the bacon and toasting or frying the bread. Variety is obviously the spice of this dish. This salad is a lovely dish to have for brunch. 


  Cut the slices of bread into 1cm dice, unless grilling. In this case, leave the slices whole. Cut the just-set hard-boiled eggs into quarters. 

  The bacon can now be pan-fried or grilled until crispy. If pan-frying, a dry pan can be used. Any fat content will be released into the pan from the bacon. This will also happen if grilling. Whichever method you choose, keep the bacon fat for frying the bread. Once cooked, remove the bacon from the pan and keep warm. Now add the bread and fry until golden and crispy. You might need extra oil to achieve a golden finish. If the bacon has been grilled, just brush each slice of bread with the fat released, and toast. Now it can be diced. 

  Season the salad leaves with salt and pepper. It's best, whenever making salads, to sprinkle salt around the howl and not directly on the leaves. This prevents the salt from falling onto wet leaves and sticking in lumps. Cut the bacon into strips and mix into the leaves, with the spring onions and fried/toasted bread. Mix together the red-wine vinegar and the olive oil. This mixture can be spooned over the leaves, adding just enough to coat. Arrange on four plates or present as one large salad. The hard-boiled egg quarters can now also be seasoned with salt and pepper and placed among the leaves. 

  For poached eggs, re-heat in simmering water for l minute before placing on top of the salads. 

  Chef's Note: 

  Extra red-wine vinegar can be mixed with olive oil with the addition of mustard to taste. This can then be shaken in a jar ready to use. 

  A pinch of sugar can be added to the red-wine vinegar to sweeten the finish, slightly reducing the piquant acidity. 

  It's always nice to offer home-made Salad Cream or Mayonnaise with this dish. 

  Serves 4 - 6 

  A large knob of butter 
  2 large onions, roughly diced 
  2 large potatoes, peeled & cut in rough 1 cm dice 
  1 litre chicken stock 
  250g Brussels sprouts, finely shredded & rinsed 
  125ml single cream 
  6 - 8 rashers of streaky bacon, rind removed & cut into thin strips 
  Cooking oil 
  Salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg 

      Creamy Bubble & Squeak Soup with Crispy Bacon 

  Bubble and squeak is reputed to have got its name because it echoes the sound the ingredients make when frying. Usually thought of as a nineteenth century dish of potato and cabbage leftovers, the dish was originally made with beef and cabbage, without potato. 

  Here, we have taken the potatoes and mixed them with onions and Brussels sprouts, the alternative to cabbage. This version has been blitzed to a smooth, creamy-soft finish, but it can, if preferred, be left in its rustic, brothy consistency. The flavours and texture can be enhanced by a last-minute addition of slivers of bacon cooked to a crisp. 

  This recipe is perfect at Christmas time if you have leftover sprouts, potatoes and crispy bacon rashers from Christmas lunch that you want to use up. 


  Melt the butter in a saucepan. Once bubbling, add the onions and potatoes. Cook without colouring for 5 to 10 minutes, until beginning to soften. The stock can now be added. Bring to the simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the vegetables are totally cooked. Season the soup with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to the boil and add the shredded sprouts. Allow the soup to simmer vigorously for 6 to 8 minutes, until the sprouts become tender. 

  The soup can now be completely liquidized and then pushed through a sieve for a smooth, creamy finish. Add the single cream and check the seasoning. 

  Cook the bacon strips while the soup is being made, by heating a non-stick frying-pan with a drop of cooking oil. Begin to cook the bacon on a fairly high heat. This will seal the individual strips. After a minute or two, reduce the cooking temperature so the bacon is just bubbling. As the bacon cooks, its natural fat will melt, letting it `deep-fry' in its own oil. Continue until the strips are a deep colour and have become very crispy, almost like crackling. Strain off the fat and sit the bacon pieces on kitchen paper to absorb any remaining oil. You now have crunchy bacon, which eats very well sprinkled over the bubble and squeak soup. 

  Chef's Note: 

  For vegetarians, omit the bacon strips and cook the vegetables in vegetable stock. The soup can also be served as a bubble and squeak broth. Simply cut the onions and potatoes into neat 1cm dice, and follow the recipe, adding the shredded sprouts. Once all the vegetables are cooked, add 50g butter in place of the single cream. 



PLEASE! Two things: 1. It would really make life easier when using your posting, if you would put a Title for each recipe at the BEGINNING of the recipe. 2. Please tell what Mashed Potato Sauce is or post a recipe for it. I’m just not familiar with this.
Thank you very much for the recipes. I’m an Anglophile from way back and I am really interested in this posting, so please accept my compliments!

Nice to see the culinary scene has improved since I left Felixstowe Suffolk 30 odd years ago. However most Americans are not going to know what a “rasher” of bacon or (streaky bacon)is; castor sugar or your metric measurements or oven temps. Rasher=slice. Streaky= regular american bacon, Castor sugar=superfine.Single cream=light cream, Double cream=Heavy cream, Tinned=canned. Custard powder is probably know only to Ex-Brits (Birds) Red Mullet and Little Gem lettuce are unknown here. Nice recipes, not exotic by USA standards but at least Brits are no longer living on "Pie and Chips!