I had made a savoury snack for the party and so I thought I’d make something sweet. These are strange little biscuits, or perhaps cakes. I’m not sure which. They appear in the Cakes and Tarts section, but look like biscuits. For some reason, this is important. Anyways, the name of these sweetmeats are a mystery, probably invented in honour of either the Duchesse de Mazarin who lived in Chelsea for a bit, or Cardinal Mazarin of France.
First, the pastry: Cream together 2 ounces of butter with a tablespoon of caster sugar, then beat in an egg yolk, before mixing in 4 ounces of flour and an ounce of ground almonds (use your hands to bring it all together). Roll it out into strips about 2 inches wide, lay on greaseproof paper turning up the edges ready for the filling.
For the filling: Start by spreading some apricot jam down the lengths of the strips. Next, beat 2 egg whites until stiff and fold in 4 ounces of caster sugar, 2 ounces of flaked almonds and a tablespoon of grated plain chocolate. Pour into a saucepan and boil, stirring as you go so that it doesn’t catch. Spoon the mixture onto the strips – a tricky endeavour. Bake at 180⁰C for 45 minutes, allow to cool and then cut on the diagonal.
#247 Mazarines. These were also a disappointment. The pastry was very dry and crumbly and the filling was so unbelievably sweet. Annoyingly, they were nigh on impossible to cut without them breaking up. Not impressed. If were Cardinal Mazarin or the Duchesse de Mazarin, I’d be well pissed-off that these efforts were created in my honour! 2.5/10
I had a few friends round for my 33rd birthday last week and thought it would be a good excuse to do some of the finger foods in the book. This is a slightly strange one and the anchovy-based recipes have been pretty hit-and-miss. I couldn’t really see anything that was hit about this recipe: anchovies, boiled eggs and cream. However, I’ve been surprised more times than disappointed doing this blog….
To make your very own anchovy matchsticks, start off by rolling out 8 ounces of puff pastry into two rectangles thinly. Place anchovy fillets in rows, spacing them around 1 ½ inches apart on one piece of pastry. Next, make the egg filling: mash together 2 hard-boiled eggs with a tablespoon of cream and a little salt and pepper. Carefully add a stripe of egg over the fillets, before painting egg wash over the gaps and placing the other piece of pastry over that. Press down and cut into ‘matchsticks’. Glaze with more egg and bake in the oven at 220⁰C for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.
#247 Anchovy Matchsticks. These were absolutely vile. The combinations of the hot boiled egg and salty fish made my stomach turn. Horrible, horrible, horrible. 1/10
The Freshwater Fish chapter of English Food has been the most difficult part of the book to source ingredients for. You can’t just walk into a fishmonger and ask for a fillet of pike or whatever. Fish are sold by the crate and no-one eats enough these days for it to be worth the fishmonger buying it, salmon and trout excepted. It’s probably not a bad idea – the fish in our rivers and lakes seem so finite compared to sea fish, so if folks got a taste for them they would be fished into extinction. That said, there are shit-loads of pike in our rivers, so why not pop down to one and fish one of the buggers out.
Who would have thought pike vs. cormorant would have turned out like this?
Jane Grigson was a fan of pike, as were the French who used to farm the scary fanged fish. Actually they’re quite beautiful with their green tiger stripes. I got two fine fillets from The Fish Society, and I suggest you have a look there if you fancy having a go at trying pike, or any other difficult-to-get-hold-of fish. This is what Griggers reckons you should do with it:
Fillet the fish and remove the pin bones (of which there are many) before marinating in some sherry and Madeira wine. After an hour or so, drain the fillets and coat them in seasoned flour and fry in oil and butter until golden and crisp. Serve with a lightly-curried velouté flavoured with the marinade juices. I used, half an ounces each of flour and butter for the roux and then half a pint of fish stock plus half a teaspoon of mild curry powder. Add some cream too if you like.
#246 Pike. This was really delicious – a firm, meaty and mildly sweet fish. Also, it wasn’t in the least ‘muddy’ tasting as we keep getting told freshwater fish tastes like. I would definitely recommend this if you can get hold of it. The sauce was pretty good too. If you see it in a restaurant, order it. 7.5/10
This is a dessert that I had been looking forward to making for a while – I was just waiting for strawberry season. What could possibly not be delicious about strawberries, coconuts and cream?? Griggers doesn’t say anything about where it comes from; whether it was modern at the time of writing or if it has a good stoic history in the annals of English cookery. Scroll down to the picture, though, and you have to assume it’s probably from the Fanny Craddock School rather than the Alexis Soyer School.
It’s a little bit of a faff this one and the coconut cream needs to be made well in advance because it contains gelatine and that needs to set. To make it, bring ¼ pint of single and soured cream slowly to a boil along with a split vanilla pod and 4 ounces of desiccated coconut and 7 fluid ounces of water. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes and let it cool down until ‘tepid’. Pass through a sieve and add either powdered or leaf gelatine dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water; follow the instructions in the packet and make enough for a pint of liquid in total. Also add a good tablespoon of grated creamed coconut and add sugar and lime juice to taste. Griggers says: “the citrus juice is an enhancer, it should not be identifiable”. Pop the cream in the fridge and allow to cool and reach an ‘egg white consistency’. At this point, fold in ½ pint of whipping cream that had been whipped stiffly. Pour the whole mixture into a lightly-oiled decorative jelly mould and allow to set. To turn it out, dip the mould in hot water briefly before upturning it.
The strawberry sauce is much easier. Hull a pound of strawberries, keeping the nicest ones behind for decoration, and liquidise the rest with the addition of some icing sugar to sweeten. Pour the sauce around the coconut cream and “dispose of the strawberry halves in a decorative manner”. Or else.
#245 Coconut Cream with Strawberry Sauce. Oh, I had looked forward to this one for so long; I should have learned by now that some of these desserts are just plain rubbish. And this one definitely fits into that category. The coconut cream was pretty tasteless bearing in mind the number of what should be delicious ingredients that made it up. Next time, strawberries and cream will be served. 3/10.
Ah, the Lake District. Hugh and I were not far from Grasmere only last weekend on a little break so I thought I’d make the second of the Grasmere Gingerbreads. You can just imagine William Wordsworth tucking into these after his daffodil sandwiches of an afternoon or whatever. It’s what we would have done if it HADN’T PISSED IT DOWN all weekend. Hey-ho.
This is a bit different to Grasmere Gingerbread I in that it is made with wholemeal flour. Usually wholemeal flour based biscuits and cakes are found in the vegan health food shop and taste awful, but don’t let that put you off; these are delicious and easy to make too:
Start by sieving 8 ounces of flour along with ½ teaspoon each of cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda and 3 decent teaspoons of dried ground ginger (don’t be scanty, it can take it). Rub in 6 ounces of butter and then mix in 5 ounces of soft dark brown sugar and a dessertspoon of golden syrup. You should end up with a dark rubble. Line a roasting tin or oblong pan with greaseproof paper and pour the mixture in, pressing it down firmly. Bake for 45 minutes at 160⁰C. Remove and cut into rectangles whilst still hot and cool on a rack.
#244 Grasmere Gingerbread II. Really good this one. The wholemeal flour and treacly taste combine well here to make a rich crumbly, though very slightly chewy bittersweet biscuit. I shall definitely be making these again. I reckon if crushed, they would make a very good crumble topping. Tres bon. 7/10
Hello there Grigsoners! No, I hadn’t died and I certainly hadn’t forgotten about the blog. I have now completed my PhD thesis and have somehow made it through the other side alive. Phew! It was a close one.
Well it is back to the cookery blog now as though nothing happened – I’m going to try and concentrate on making good use of the summer fruits as well as trying my best to empty my fridge which is bulging at its seal with food goodies.
I have some news too that may please some of you. I have just got a new job in a research laboratory at Rice University in Houston, Texas!! I start at the beginning of September so will be there by August! After a year, I then go on to Washington University in St Louis, Missouri! This means that Neil Cooks Grigson is going Stateside! I’m not sure how much of it will be possible to do over there, but I will try my best. I’ll need help from all you Yankees that read my blog!