#285 Creamed Parsnips

Parsnips don’t seem to be that popular in America, at least compared to Britain. In the USA, carrots and sweet potatoes are much more favoured as a sweet-starchy vegetable. In Europe, parsnips have been cultivated since Roman times, and although in the UK, the wild parsnip is quite a common plant, it has rather pathetic roots,and isn’t worthwhile eating. The parsnips eaten in Britain are therefore not indigenous. They were probably brought over around AD55 during the Roman invasion. The Romans used parsnips in desserts because of their sweet and chestnutty flavour, weirdly, parsnips are used in a cake in English Food that is based upon the recipe for an American carrot cake. Ah, the circle of life.
The European wild parsnip

Creamed parsnips can be served alongside some roast meat, or on their own with toast or in pastry cases as a supper dish, says Griggers. I had them for supper.
Peel, top, tail and quarter a pound and-a-half of parsnips. Remove any woody parts, if the parsnips are large and cut them into batons. Plunge them into boiling, salted water and allow to cook until tender – between five and ten minutes, depending upon the size of you batons. Drain and return to the heat. Stir in a quarter of a pint of double cream (or half-and half double and single). Heat through, season with salt and pepper and stir in some finely chopped parsley. Serve hot.
#285 Creamed Parsnips. Ah the simple things are the best, innit? These were delicious and not at all heavy – the parsley lifted the whole thing, preventing the dish becoming sickly. The creamy sauce and the carby parsnips themselves made the supper feel quite substantial. A hidden, simple gem. 8/10.


#284 Veal, Ham and Egg Pie

Okie dokie, so the last two posts have all been on the subject of raised pies. The first one explained how to bake and construct one, and the second explain how to make the jellied stock. Now it is time for an actual filling to complete the full recipe.
This is the first of several fillings for raised pies from the book, and I must admit that I have been putting off making one in case it was a disaster. In the end it was a delight to make.
I chose this recipe because it seemed the most basic, with the easiest ingredients to get hold of; the nearby Central Market sells a range of veal cuts, which are usually tricky to get hold of. Strangely enough, the tricky item to get hold of was the unsmoked and raw ham, gammon or bacon. I searched high and low for it, but to no avail. Luckily, I am now pretty good in the kitchen these days and knew I could cure my own ham overnight in the brine tub I now have sitting at the back of the fridge ready to leap into action whenever I need an emergency curing. I bought a bit of pork loin as it is the leanest cut.
So, to make the filling you will need to hard boil and shell four eggs. Whilst they are bubbling away, get the meats ready: cut up 1 ½ pounds of ‘pie veal’ (I took this to mean cuts for casserole, like shoulder) along with 12 ounces of unsmoked bacon, ham or gammon. You want chunks around a centimetre in size. Add the grated rind of a lemon, a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, a teaspoon of dried thyme. Mix these together well with a decent  amount of seasoning. Pack half of the mixture in the pastry-lined mould. Place the eggs inside and then the remaining filling (see the raised pie post for pics of this). Then bake as described in the raised pie post.
#284 Veal, Ham and Egg Pie. Whew! This pie pretty much took me a whole Sunday to make. It was worth it though. The filling was wonderfully light and fresh tasting due to the herbs and lemon and the meat flavour was quite subtle, the whole thing kept moist by the jellied stock. The pastry was crisp and tasty too – hot water pastry is so easy, I can’t believe I put it off for so long. I brought it into work for people to try and it seemed to go down pretty well and I’ve been eating it through the week. There’s one slice left know, and I already miss it. Cannot wait to try the next one. I think i have found my calling as an artisan pie-maker extraordinaire! An excellent pie! 8.5/10 (I’m not marking it higher, in case the others are even more delicious!).

#283 Jellied Stock

If you are going to attempt to make a raised pie, then you need to make a jellied stock. The jelly in these pies is either loved or hated. Many people can’t stomach the thought of savoury jelly I think and either have to pick it out or avoid eating these delicious pies altogether. The jellied stock is very important though. The meat inside is cooked for a long time and can dry out a little – some water escapes through the hole in the top and some is absorbed by the pastry. The stock soaks into the meat, making it nice and juicy again and it fills any gaps made by the shrinking contents.
So here’s the recipe. You could, of course, just use some stock and gelatine, but that would be cheating!
First you need some bones that will release alot of gelatine, so use either two pig’s trotters or a veal knuckle – ask the butcher to cut them into several pieces for you. To these, add any bones you may have left over when you prepared the fillings. You’ll also need a sliced large carrot, a medium onion studded with three cloves, a bouquet garni and twelve black peppercorns. Place all of these in a big stockpot.

From this…
Now add four to five pints of water, bring to the boil, skim off any scum and cover and simmer for three to four hours.

…to this…
Strain the stock through some muslin into a clean pan and boil it down until it is a concentrated ¾ of a pint. Season it with some salt and more pepper if required. The stock is now ready to be funnelled or poured into the raised pie (see here for instructions).

…to this!

#283 Jellied Stock. I won’t write a review for this as it’s not a dish in itself, but I will say that it was a very satisfying process; condensing that big set of ingredients into the viscous well-flavoured stock. Made me feel like a real baker.

#282 Raised Pies

Is there anyone who doesn’t like a pie made with hot-water pastry? Everyone, I say, from the Mayor of Melton Mowbray to, er, Sweeney Todd. Oh, except for vegetarians. They’re so quintessentially English and I’ve not seen anything remotely close here in Texas. I must admit I’ve been putting off making these pies – I’d never made one before and I knew that it would take a lot of time, and presumably, effort. However, I felt I was ready – and so I should be because there are several to do in this book so I need the practice. Hopefully I’ll get it right first time.
So, for those of you not in the know, a raised pie is a pie made from pastry using boiling water and lard, unlike shortcrust pastry that is kept as cold as possible. Hot water pastry achieves a putty-like consistency that allows the pie mould or tin to be moulded and raised up the sides of the tin, rather than rolled. The hot water makes the pastry very absorbent too; you need this as the filling cooks and releases juices. Normal pastry that contains butter would just turn into a sloppy mess. Raised pies became crazily over-the-top in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Elizabeth Raffald’s receipt for a Yorkshire Goose Pie gives the following instructions:
Take a large fat goose, split it down the back and take all the bones out. Bone a turkey and two ducks the same way, season them very well with pepper and salt, with six woodcocks
You don’t get pies like that in Yorkshire nowadays, I can tell you. Imagine the meat sweats you’d get from a slice of that!
The raised pie hasn’t quite fallen out of favour in Britain these days – I’m sure Melton Mowbray pork pies are as popular as ever, but that’s all you generally see now. The book proffers more, and I shall be adding them as I go. The basics are: Pork Pie; Veal, Ham and Egg Pie; Raised Mutton Pies; and Game, Chicken or Rabbit Pie. They all have the same basic parts: the pastry, the jellied stock and the filling itself.
It all seems a bit complicated, but it’s not really. In this post I’ll deal with the construction and baking of the pie. The jellied stock and the fillings can have their own posts (these are coming in the next day or two).
Begin by making the hot water pastry. Bring a third of a pint of water and six ounces of lard to the boil. In the meantime, weigh out a pound of flour and place in a bowl with half a teaspoon of salt. When boiling, tip the water and fat into the flour and mix quickly – electric beaters are the best for this, but don’t use a high speed as the pastry won’t bind properly. To enrich this pastry add an egg, or a tablespoon of icing sugar. Cover the dough and leave until it cools enough to handle, but don’t let it cool down completely. Take three-quarters of the pastry and put it in a six or seven inch cake tin with removable base. You can buy fancy hinged raised pie moulds – they are quite expensive though, but they are beautiful (see this link). Quickly, but carefully, mould the pie by gently pushing the pastry up the sides of the mould or tin until it overlaps the lip, making sure there are no holes or tears. If it just flops down, then it is too hot. Wait five minutes and try again.
If you want to make small pies, you can mould the pastry around the outside of a wide rolling pin or a jam jar. This method is required for the mutton pies. This is alot trickier apparently. So unless you can avoid it, do the big pie.
Now you can start on the jellied stock and prepare your pie filling. Pack the filling well into the raised crust.
…if it mounds up above the rim, so much the better.
Roll out a lid with the remaining pastry and fix in place with a little beaten egg, making a hole in the centre for steam to escape. Decorate the pie with leaves and roses using pastry trimmings. It’s strange that savoury pies have the ornate decorations in England and that the sweet ones are left plain. I don’t know why this is. Anyway…. Brush the lid with more egg (don’t throw unused egg away, you’ll need it later).
Bake in the oven for half an hour at 200°C (400°F) to colour the top, and then lower the temperature to 160°C (325°F) for two hours for large pies and just one hour for small pies – you need this time for the meat to cook and become tender. Watch the pie doesn’t brown too much though – if it needs a little protection, cover with some brown or wax paper. Remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for thirty minutes before removing it from its mould very carefully. Brush the sides with beaten egg and return it to the oven for a final half an hour to brown and crisp up.
Whilst the pie cooked, the meat shrank, so the gaps need filling with the jelled stock. This can be carefully poured through the hole in the lid, or better using a small funnel. Let the pie cool and eat the next day. The pie will keep for days wrapped in wax paper and kept somewhere cool.
Phew!
#282 Raised Pies. It won’t write a review for this recipe – I’ll save that for the fillings. However, it is worth saying that although making a pie like this is no mean feat, it is worth having a go. I had such fun pottering about the kitchen making my first riased pie (the Veal, Ham and Egg Pie). But then, I am a great big geek. Anyway, hopefully I have inspired you to give it a go, if not at least appreciate how much effort goes into these beautiful and delicious artisan pies.

#281 Scallops with White Wine and Jerusalem Artichokes

If I am going anywhere that is likely to have lots of nice food, I take my copy of now dog-eared English Food along with me in case there is something I don’t expect to see but is required for a recipe. Central Market, the place where I seem to get most of my ingredients from here in Houston, almost always has something unexpected I can use. Today was no exception: I was shopping for some pie ingredients, but also came across some nice Jerusalem artichokes. A quick flick through the book and I found this recipe that combines them with one of my favorite items of seafood, scallops. I was in the mood for treating myself, so I thought this would be a great late lunch dish prefect for these warm days in Houston.
This recipe isn’t one of Jane Grigson’s herself, but from one of her contemporaries and friends Joyce Molyneux, who owned a restaurant called The Carved Angel in Dartmouth. Ms Molyneux adapted the recipe from a recipe she saw for scallop and Jerusalem soup in a book called Four Seasons Cookery Book by a certain Margaret Costa. It’s funny how recipes get changed and passed around, constantly evolving into different dishes.
To make a lunch for four you will need eight large scallops. Remove the corals (should they still be on) and reserve them and cut each scallop into five or six discs. Now trim about twelve ounces of Jerusalem artichokes and cut them into thin matchsticks (keeping trimmings for soup, Griggers says). Fry them gently in two ounces of butter and when nearly tender – about ten minutes – add the scallop discs and four tablespoons of dry white wine. Season with a little salt and pepper. After a minute, add the corals and cook for another two minutes. Don’t overcook – they will become like rubber. Arrange the scallops and artichokes on a warm plate and concentrate any remaining juices, seasoning with more salt and pepper if you like plus some lemon juice. Finally, stir in some chopped parsley and pour over the scallops. I served them with some nice buttered sourdough bread, thinly sliced.
#281 Scallops with White Wine and Jerusalem Artichokes. I loved this. One of the best recipes I’ve done in a while. The earthy artichokes worked so well with the sweet scallops, plus the wine, lemon and parsley really made the whole thing wonderfully fresh tasting. Mopping up the sauce with the bread was the perfect finish. Excellent. 9.5/10.

#280 Welsh Cinnamon Cake

Known as Teisen Sinamon in Welsh, this is a mysterious cake. Griggers doesn’t really give any history behind it in the book. She says that the recipe is by Mrs Bobby Freeman (who has written a book of Welsh cakes and buns). She also says that it’s bit of a pity that chefs don’t make traditional dishes enough in their restaurants anymore. I did find after a little research that is a Victorian recipe – thanks Victorian Recipes of Wales teatowel! I’m not actually sure if it is a cake – it’s more like a giant biscuit with some meringue on top. Quite American really.
I made this cake on request for my mate Chandra’s birthday the other day. I think it went down quite well at work.
Cream four ounces each of butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and then beat in two egg yolks (reserve the whites!). Sift eight ounces of plain flour, a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of baking powder and mix them in stages into the creamed butter and sugar. Knead this mixture together and roll it out to line a nine inch flan tin with a removable base. Actually rolling it out is a total pain in the arse because it breaks up very easily. Instead spread it out over the base of the tin using your knuckles, pushing the dough up the edges and make it neat using the edge of a measuring cup. Bake for 20 minutes at 200°C (that’s 400°F). Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Heat some apricot jam with a little water to make a glaze and paint it thinly over the cake. Remember those two egg whites? Add another one and whisk until the stiff-peak stage. Then add three tablespoons of caster sugar and whisk again until the meringue becomes silky and creamy. Pile into the centre of the cake and make decorative swirls and spikes. Bake again at 180°C (350°C) until the meringue is a nice golden brown – about 10 or 15 minutes. Take out and cool on the rack again.
#280 Welsh Cinnamon Cake. Is it a cake? Is it a cookie? We just don’t know. It was very nice though – plenty of warm cinnamon spice. It was a bit stodgy too, but in a good way. I’m not sure about the meringue topping though. Not a bad one, by any means. 6.5/10.

#279 Apple Sauce II

I still had sausages left over from Harrison Hog Farm – I ate half of them with Crempog Las and wanted to the give the rest the Grigson treatment. I could have gone with toad-in-the-hole or something, but I’d done that already. Luckily I spotted this apple sauce recipe which can be served with sausages (as well as pork, salt pork, duck and goose). What made me want to do this recipe is that allows one use sausage as the meat in a Sunday dinner rather than a roast meat which can be a pain to do if there is a lot going on in the day. So it’s good old sausage and mash for dinner.
The recipe asks for Cox’s Orange Pippins, Laxtons or James Grieve apples. These are not available in America (as far as I know), and so for any Northern Americans amongst us (and I know there are several), go for Mackintosh apples instead – they have the tart mealiness of a Cox’s Pippin.
There are several apple sauce recipes in English Food and I have now hit a bit of a brick wall – the remaining recipes all use Bramley’s seedlings which can’t be found in the USA, and I haven’t been able to find an appropriate alternative. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!
Roughly chop 12 ounces of apples – no need to peel or core them. Add them to a saucepan along with a strip of lemon peel and 3 ounces of water (by weight!). Cover and simmer until soft. Pass them through a sieve into a bowl, forcing the apple flesh through to produce a smooth puree. Return to the saucepan and simmer quite briskly until the puree thickens and starts to spit and bubble a little. Stir in an ounce of butter and season with pepper and a little salt, but only if the butter was unsalted.

#279 Apple Sauce II. A slightly strange sauce this. I liked the fact it was unsweetened – bought apple sauces are far too sweet I think and they don’t always do a good job of cutting through the rich, greasy meat it’s usually served with. The butter enriched it but didn’t make the whole thing sickly like I expected. A good sauce, but nothing to write home home about! 5.5/10.