Friday, 27 October 2017


I saw this, or something very similar, described in a visit to a National Trust house - I love looking in the old kitchens too. It is not Cornish and I would imagine it is the sort of dish that would have been served to the downstairs folk. Even so, it is delicious and very easy. I would serve this any time, especially on a Sunday. A great one pot dish.

to serve 4-5: You will need a med-large ovenproof casserole dish, at least 2½ - 3 inches deep.

For the meats I used beef skirt, pork shoulder and lamb steaks. You can substitute the beef for veal if you wish. Above all, get all the prep done before you start!

Pre heat your fan oven to 170C

1½ lbs mixed meats, pork, lamb and beef, diced
a small spoonful of plain flour, in a poly bag, seasoned
dripping or oil to fry
2 medium onions  or 1 large, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
3 sticks celery, finely chopped
about a ¼ of a swede, diced
¾ pint good beef or lamb stock
1 dessertspoonful red currant jelly
2 tablespoons pearl barley
2 tablespoons fresh herbs of your choice e.g. parsley, chives, thyme.
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
Potatoes - about 1½ - 2 lb - I like a good all rounder like Desiree
2 oz grated strong mature cheddar - like Davidstow

Prepare the vegetables, the dice being not too small or too large. Lots of pics on my Blog. Toss the diced meats in the flour and shake well. Mix the stock with the jelly and Worcestershire sauce.

Take a large fry pan and add some oil or fat of your choice. In the olden days it would have been dripping, of course. When the pan is hot, fry the veggies until they are soft, but not coloured. Transfer the veg to your casserole dish. Now make sure your pan is very hot and brown the meats, making sure you keep it moving and scrape up all the bits off the bottom. Tip in the stock, pearl barley and the herbs then season well. Tip all this into the dish with the veg and mix well.

Meanwhile peel the potatoes and slice them fairly thinly [use a mandolin if you have one - so handy] and arrange them on the top of the meats, as neatly as you can. Cover with foil and pop into your pre heated oven for about 1½ hours.  Remove the foil and sprinkle over the cheese, then pop the dish back in the oven for another 30 mins until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Allow to cool for 10 mins before serving, crusty bread is a great add-on to mop up any juices, plus a green veg of your choice. Perfect.

This dish can be prepared in the morning or even the day before up to the point where you add the cheese. I also cannot see why it can’t be frozen at this stage too. Just bring back to heat before adding the cheese.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Ginger Rocks

These extremely simple, scrumptious little buns are just perfect for a mid morning snack. Come to think of it, you can eat them any time. They are made in minutes and before long the heavenly smell of ginger is wafting from your oven. Have I mentioned before that I love ginger? These tick all my boxes. Mini ginger rock cakes, although the recipe differs a tad from the old fashioned rock buns. They keep well for a couple of days.

8 oz plain flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
2 oz butter, softened
pinch salt
1 teaspoonful ground ginger
2 oz preserved ginger, finely chopped
2 oz granulated sugar
grated zest of a lemon
1 egg
a little milk, about a tablespoon and ditto the ginger syrup

Butter a baking sheet and pre heat your fan over to 210C

In a medium bow, mix the flour, baking powder and salt, then rub in the butter. Add the sugar, ginger, zest and the preserved ginger. Add the beaten egg and start to mix to a stiff dough, that will not drop from a spoon. You may need a small amount of milk. Place little rocky pieces on your prepared baking sheet, using a fork and bake for about ten minutes in a very hot oven.

Cool on a rack.

Yum Yum, very moreish. I am a ginger addict, I know, and a hopeless case.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Well, this is a real treat I have for you! Ridiculously indulgent and rich. I found it in the Talking About Cakes book of 1970, I had never seen anything like it. Yes, it is a little costly to make, taking 3 tubs of glacé cherries, but trust me when I tell you it is well worth the expense. It keeps extremely well and is just brilliant as a special cake. I have adapted it slightly, from the original, so this is my version. This cake needs to be made several days ahead of cutting.

Start off by rinsing your cherries with boiling water and allowing them to dry.

Butter and line a 7” spring form cake tin and pre heat your fan oven to 130C.

4 oz softened butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 oz plain flour
¼ teaspoonful baking powder
2 oz ground almonds
2 oz chopped mixed peel
the zest and juice of a lemon
1½ lb [3 large tubs] glacĂ© cherries
4-5 oz marzipan, cubed into small cubes

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar, until really light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time then add the ground almonds, zest, peel, baking powder and flour. Stir in the cherries, left whole and the cubed marzipan along with the lemon juice. Mix well and tip into your prepared tin.

Bake for about 2½ hours. WOW!

When cold, wrap and leave for at least 2-3 days to mature before cutting. Just wonderful. Enjoy.
We absolutely loved it.

This cake can be iced if you wish.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Banana and Nut Bread

I have taken this recipe from the Ladies of the WI’s, Recipes From Cornwall book of 1960s. It is very easy, with a brilliant flavour and texture. Scrumptious sliced and buttered, but  also good on its own. We loved it.

Butter a 1 lb loaf tin and pre heat your fan oven to 160C. I always place a strip of baking parchment hanging over the sides to help lift it out, just in case…

8 oz self raising flour
pinch salt
2 oz butter
2 oz caster sugar
2 oz walnuts, chopped
1 egg
3 oz golden syrup
2 medium bananas

In a medium bowl, sift the flour and salt, then rub in the butter. Add the sugar and chopped nuts.
Whisk the egg and syrup together, mash the bananas until quite smooth then stir them in. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.

Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour. 

Just lovely.

Note: the original recipe used margarine. But you all know I only use butter.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Lemon and Almond Tartlets

These are so yummy, my family could not believe that we had never had these flavours together before and in such a simple combination. Yet another recipe from the 1917 Modern Cookery. The quantity makes 12 tartlets.

Lightly butter or spray a 12 hole bun tin. Pre heat your fan oven to 190C

Short crust pastry: I always use 8oz plain flour, 5 oz butter cubed, 1 egg yolk and 1-2 tablespoons cold water. Blitz the flour and butter, then add the liquid in a food processor. Made in seconds. Add the grated zest of half a lemon, along with a dessertspoonful caster sugar, before adding the liquid to bind. You will have some pastry left over, handy to make a small tart base. Chill for 10 mins or so.

Roll out your pastry and line the bun cases.

4 oz ground almonds
4 oz caster sugar
2-3 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together and form a soft paste. Divide the almondy mixture into the 12 pastry cases and mark it roughly with a fork [to later hold the lemon marmalade]. Bake in the moderate oven for 20 mins

1 beaten egg
lemon marmalade

Remove from the oven and quickly brush over the beaten egg, adding a sprinkling of more caster sugar on each tartlet. Spread a teaspoonful of lemon marmalade in the centre of each and return to the oven for about 5 minutes.

Oh wow. Brilliant warm or cold, with clotted cream. I will be making these regularly.

Monday, 2 October 2017


A superb and very tasty dish, apparently made by the land girls [of the SW] during WW2 when there was no meat. Over the years it has been tarted up, I am sure, and this is my version. Simple and easy, especially if you have veggie’s coming for a meal. If you don’t have time to make the pastry, shop bought is good, but use ‘all butter’ and try to roll in some dry mustard powder.

You will need a 8” loose bottomed flan tin, fairly deep, about 2 inches or thereabouts. Pre heat your fan oven to 200C

The pastry:
8 oz plain and wholemeal, mixed half and half
5 oz butter
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder [optional]
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water

You can rub it in, of course, otherwise, like me, place the flours, salt, mustard and cubed butter in a food processor. Pulse a few times until it resembles breadcrumbs and add the liquids and pulse again until it just forms a ball. Lightly knead on a floured surface for a few seconds and chill for a quarter of an hour.

1 lb waxy potatoes, like King Edwards or even a good all rounder like Desiree.
a large onion, chopped
a large leek, chopped
Butter or oil
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
some thyme leaves, chopped
a dessertspoonful chopped parsley
a few chopped chives
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
a small tub double cream [150ml]
5-6 oz mature cheddar, grated, like Davidstow

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chucks, then boil them until just starting to soften - 5-6 mins, no more. Drain and cool then set aside.

In a large pan, gently fry the onions and leeks until really soft, add the garlic and fry for another few minutes. Tip in the potatoes, being careful not to break them up, along with the mustard, herbs, two thirds of the cheese, cream and lastly seasoning to taste, but lots of freshly ground black pepper. Mix well then set aside to cool.

Roll out your pastry and line your flan tin, making sure it is not too thick. Trim the top, then chill again while the filling is cooling.

Tip the potato mix into the flan and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Bake in your prepared oven for about 40-45 mins until the top is golden. Turn the oven down to 190C after half an hour.

Enjoy this taste of the past. We absolutely loved it.

Note: I used 2 large shallots and a leek. Use any oniony combo you wish, ditto herbs.