Traditional English Cuisine

 

Other Great Dishes 

 

This section is a relatively random collection of dishes I couldn’t think where else to put.

 

A nice cup of tea

 

Still the nation’s favourite, although we drink more coffee now than we used to. Some people like their tea strong, others weak. Some like it sweet, others with no sugar. Pretty well everyone drinks it with milk. But there is no doubt that tea is a very refreshing drink – far more so than coffee. The old saying that a cup of hot tea cools you down better than a cool drink has been proven to be true.

 

 

Egg Sarnie (Sandwich)

 

Simply made with fresh boiled eggs (best at the point where they are turning hard but still just soft) mixed with salad cream and black or white pepper. Bread must be fresh. Mustard cress is often also added. The common English version should be made with our ‘Salad Cream’ which is different to mayonnaise.

 

 

 Beans on toast

 

Baked beans are an American import, yet we have managed to develop our own unique style. In the UK, baked beans refer to tinned haricot beans in a specific tomato sauce. They are extremely popular and are eaten as part of a cooked breakfast or as a ‘vegetable’, usually with simple dishes involving chips. But beans on buttered toast has become an icon of our national cuisine. A very simple, but extremely tasty dish, this is eaten as a lunch or light tea. You can add a little Worcester sauce or even some tabasco if you wish. And whilst I don’t normally plug specific brands, there won’t be many people that disagree with me when I say it has to be Heinz!

 

 

Cheese on toast

 

Otherwise known as Welsh rarebit, this is also a very tasty snack. I tend to use fairly mild cheese, such as cheddar, red Leicester, double Gloucester or the crumbly north western cheeses, such as Lancashire. I wouldn’t use goats or blue cheese, though I think some people do.

 

 

Yorkshire Pudding

 

Made from a simple batter of flour, milk and eggs. Getting it right is one of the hardest things! In Yorkshire, the traditional way of eating it is with gravy before the main meal. Fills you up, then you don’t need too much of the expensive stuff.

 

 

Pancakes

 

English pancakes are relatively large and thin. They can be eaten as a desert and pretty well anything sweet added to them. Typically, they are eaten on pancake day (the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of lent), covered in sugar and orange or lemon juice and folded over. You can add treacle as well if you wish. In days gone by, they were a way of using up left overs in preparation for the Lenten fast. Tossing a pancake is a bit of an art and can end up in disaster! We even have pancake races!

 

 

Bread and milk

 

Simply tear some bread into chunks, place in a bowl and add hot milk and a little sugar or honey. This was typically given to children after they had been ill and were still not able to eat harder food. I remember it fondly as real comfort food.

 

 

Bubble and squeak                                                                                              

 

A traditional way of using up left over veg from the Sunday roast. It gets its name from the noise it makes as it cooks. You’ll need potato, carrot, onion and some form of green. Mash the veg together, it’s up to you how smooth you mash it and whether you cook whole in a frying pan or as smaller patties. Best fried in lard or beef dripping and served with cold meat and pickles. Or with an egg on top!

 

 

Panhaggerty

 

One of those simple, but delicious ‘knock-up’ recipes, originating from the North East. It is made up from sliced potatoes, onions, cheese and can also include various meats (usually ham or bacon) and/or sausage and cabbage.

 

 

Cauliflower Cheese

 

A traditional dish that can either be eaten on its own or as part of a roast dinner – usually lamb. Par boil the cauliflower, either whole or cut up, and then pour over a freshly made cheese sauce and bake. Cheddar is a good choice of cheese, but Red Leicester, Double Gloucester or Lancashire cheeses also work well. Very tasty!

 

 

Black pudding

 

Also known as ‘blood pudding’. It is usually made from pork blood and fat, suet, seasoning and oatmeal and served hot in round slices, often as part of a cooked breakfast. A good black pudding is surprisingly tasty despite its ingredients.

 

 

Grilled liver

 

Liver seems to be going the way of many other offal dishes and is less commonly eaten now than it was even 20 years ago. My mother used to grill it, but you can pan fry it too. The trick is to not over-cook the liver, otherwise it becomes rubbery. But cooked properly, it is both succulent and tasty. Serve with fried onions and mashed potatoes.

 

 

Love in disguise

 

Otherwise known as stuffed hearts, usually lamb. Hardly eaten at all these days, the hearts were filled with various stuffings. One option is made from breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, lemon, sage, nutmeg, chicken stock and sherry. Another is made from sausage meat, mushrooms and onion.

 

 

Marmite potatoes

 

And that brings me nicely to a style of roast potato I guess virtually nobody is familiar with, but they were the talk of the dinner when I did have them. I’ve only seen it on the menu at one establishment, associated with the army. A bit like parmentier potatoes in size and shape, but rather than coated with rosemary they are coated with a thin layer of marmite. Ok – if you’re an Aussie ‘vegemite’ will do just fine! Works with Bovril too, apparently.

 

 

Tongue

 

Usually bought in slices and eaten as part of a cold meat salad or in a sandwich with a little mustard. Looking at some of the pictures available on the net, I realise how puny our sandwiches are compared to some of the North American monsters with several slices of meat to a sandwich.

 

 

Spam

 

I was unsure whether to include this as it is American in origin and not traditionally English. However, it was a wartime staple and remained so for many years afterwards. Whilst less popular these days, it is still easily available. Eaten in sandwiches or as part of a cold meat salad, I decided to include it because of a unique British way of cooking (murdering?) it – the Spam fritter. I’m not sure anyone really eats these today, but they were common up until the 1980’s. Actually, if I’m really honest I have to say I rather liked them!

 

 

Coronation chicken

 

Developed for our present Queen’s coronation in 1953, this is another ‘Anglo Indian’ dish which is more English than Indian. It is made of pre-cooked cold chicken meat, raisins, herbs, spices and a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce. It is either eaten on its own as a salad or as a filling for sandwiches and vol-au-vents. The classic Anglo-Indian madras curry powder gives it a distinct yellow colour. It has a distinct fruity curry flavour and is delicious.

 

 

Curried egg

 

This is another party food or snack, similar to coronation chicken but usually without the fruit. The egg yolk is taken out of a hard boiled egg cut in half, mixed with mayonnaise or salad cream and curry powder and then placed back in the egg.

 

 

Cucumber sandwich

 

About as English as you get! Fresh white bread, with crusts removed, is essential. Spread a little cream cheese and then add the cucumber, preferably pealed and chilled. They are eaten at Garden parties or as part of ‘high tea’.

 

 

English Cold Meat Salad

 

Whilst mixed or tossed salads have been eaten in England for centuries, the most common type of salad until recently was a fairly plain ‘buffet’ style. In my earlier years, a ‘salad’ specifically meant a mix of cheese and meats (ham, haslet, pork pie, ox tongue, corned beef, scotch eggs), hard boiled egg, with salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, beetroot and celery) with salad cream, pickles (including pickled onions, pickled egg, pickled walnut, piccalilli and chutney together with bread and butter. Each salad item was available in its own bowl and you simply choose what you want. There was no dressing as such because you put mustard and salad cream by the side of the plate as a ‘dip’.

 

Nowadays with a whole array of different salads, the traditional cold meat salad is less common. However, the basic structure does survive, but has become more complex. Cold roast chicken is a popular meat these days as is beef as well as coleslaw, potato and Russian salad. You can also make a salad around fish, especially pilchards and sardines.

 

 

 

                  

 

Ploughman’s lunch

 

This is a simplified version of the cold meat salad, usually eaten for lunch and often in pubs with a pint of beer! It typically consists of some or all of ham, pork pie, cheese, pickled onion, piccalilli or other pickle, sliced apple, salad garnish and bread. The dish itself is something of a marketing invention, but it is based on what agricultural workers traditionally ate in days gone by – especially, cheese, apple and bread.

 

 

Salmagundi

 

This is a very old dish from northern England that is not widely known across the country. It is served cold and can be made from any cuts of cold meat and/or fish. As a ‘mix and match’ dish, there is not set recipe for it, but other ingredients typically include some or all of the following. Carrots, potatoes, peas, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, celery, nuts, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. The vegetables and meat are cooked and then allowed to cool before arranging in a ‘fan’ shape.

 

 

Potted meat

 

Traditionally, the meat is cooked, minced, ground or shredded, seasoned and then packed tightly in a pot and covered with fat to seal as a way of preserving it. Potted beef and shrimp are the two most common commercial versions.

 

 

Brawn

 

Brawn is made from small cuts of pork meat, taken from the head, cheeks, trotters and tail, and then set in an aspic jelly with herbs and seasoning. It is usually eaten with pickles and may include some form of pickle within it. Whilst it is made from the cheaper cuts of meat, it is very nice.

 

 

 

 

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