#420 A Fricassee of Eggs

Cooking recipes from English Food by Jane Grigson, has essentially got me where I am today – she’s taught me to cook a wide variety of foods and she has passed on to me a huge interest in British cooking and its forgotten food, and its food that has now a bad name.

Now I have – along with Mr Brian Shields – opened my little restaurant called The Buttery,I am constantly using Jane’s recipes for inspiration for our menus. We have recently started a brunch menu and I spotted this recipe from Chapter 2: Cheese & Egg Dishes. It actually comes from Hannah Glasse, who wrote many a great recipe, and is – unsurprisingly – one of Jane’s most common sources in Engish Food (click here for all the Hannah Glasse recipes cooked in the book thus far). I was looking for something similar to Eggs Benedict, but with British roots. I hoped this recipe would be it.

Jane has made a few adjustments to the original recipe; a dish of boiled eggs in a creamy sauce, her keen sense of Georgian ingredients helps us achieve a final plate of food that is as historically accurate as possible. The devil is in the detail. We also see some her characteristically evocative writing:

In the days before pasteurisation, cream rapidly developed a sharp tang, which is why I used a mixture of double and soured cream…The lovely richness of the sauce suggests an idyllic countryside, cows in a pasture with summer flowers, and a steady sound of bees. An interesting thing is that one still finds it in Normandy and the Sarthe, served with trout and other fine fish, or with boiled chickens and rice.

Not all of the Hannah Glasse recipes have been well received, one – #230 English Rabbit – has achieved the only zero score in the book! However, others have gone down a storm (#366 A Fine Way to Pot a Tongue, springs to mind).

This fricassee of eggs serves eight as a first course, but can easily be scaled up or down.

Take eight large eggs and boil them for eight minutes in boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon and run under the cold tap so that they can be peeled without burning your dainty pinkies. Cut them into quarters and arrange them nicely in eight small ramekins.

As the eggs are boiling chop up eight sprigs of parsley and melt six ounces of slightly salted butter – Jane gets specific here – in an eight inch frying pan. As it begins to foam, add a quarter pint each of double creamand soured cream. Mix well with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes and allow the mixture to bubble and evaporate. A thick sauce will form. Quickly stir in the parsley and pour over the eggs. Have ready some triangles of toastand serve and ‘eat immediately’.

#420 A Fricassee of Eggs. Considering the vast amount of butter and cream in this dish, it tasted quite light, the sour cream cutting through the richness. The sauce was a tricky thing as it kept splitting whenever I stopped stirring. I think a half-teaspoon of cornflour could have been used to make it more stable. I think that it could have been improved with the addition of some cooked mushrooms nestled in amongst the eggs before the sauce was poured over them. If the sauce wasn’t so difficult to work with, it might have been a benefit to grill them and get some nice colour on the top as one might do with a hollandaise. I think I prefer eggs au cocotte as a lighter starter for a meal (in fact that is what I ended up putting on my brunch menu). 6/10

#413 Fish Soufflé

A quick one this one.

There are several soufflé recipes in this chapter that are all based on Jane Grigson’s (#138) Cheese Soufflé recipe. This one is for a fish soufflé, but the others have been meat, vegetableand smoked fish. I cook this recipe and its variations quite often, I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to do this one.

For a fish soufflé, you need to finely chop a couple of ounces of onion or shallot in two ounces of butter along with 8 ounces of your chosen fish, soft roes or shellfish. I went with crab, as it is reasonably cheap and can be bought with the brown and white meats already cooked and picked, so all I had to do was mix it into the onion.

Use the basic recipe for #138 Cheese Soufflé, omitting the Lancashire or Cheddar cheese, folding in the fish along with some finely chopped herbs such as parsley, chives or chervil.

#413 Fish Soufflé. No surprise here that was delicious. These soufflé dishes are great, the Cayenne pepper worked especially well with the crab, as did the Parmesan. I’m not sure any fish would work here, so be careful. I would avoid the oily fish, for example. It’s a great way of doing a cheap midweek meal that is actually pretty straight forward that feels like such a treat. 9/10.


#408 Little Cheese Soufflés

For a recent pop-up restaurant menu, I foolishly decided that one course should be soufflé. Now I must admit, I have had little trouble with Jane’s savoury soufflé recipes, but they were large soufflés with plenty of structure. What I wanted was little individuals ones which required even baking in my overworked and increasingly erratic oven. Luckily Jane had it covered – or so I thought – with this recipe for Little Cheese Soufflés.

This recipe appears to be far too good to be true; there is no béchamel sauce, no whipping of egg whites, no gentle folding and no ban Marie. All one has to do is mix the ingredients in the right order and bake! Obviously this was the one.

This mixture makes enough for 8 ramekins:

Grate 8 ounces of Lancashire cheese, setting a couple of tablespoons aside for later. Whisk together well 4 large eggs, and mix in ¼ pint each of single and double cream along with the cheese. Season with salt and both black and Cayenne peppers. Jane has a secret ingredient too; a rasp or two of freshly grated nutmeg.

Butter your ramekins and split the mixture between them, making sure there is a half-inch gap between mixture and ramekin rim. Mix together the cheese you put aside with two tablespoons of breadcrumbs and adorn each pot with the mixture.


Place on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes at 200⁰C until risen and browned.
Griggers’ serving suggestion: ‘Serve immediately with thin slices of bread baked in the oven until crisp.
#408 Little Cheese Soufflés. Well what can I say? When Jane says ‘serve immediately’ she really does mean immediately! It took approximately 10 seconds for my risen soufflés to become sunken shells merely coating the inside of my ramekins. In her defence, these soufflé shells did taste good, though they certainly would not do for my pop up. As far as my understanding is, it seems that the mixture only rose because the eggs – technically – overbaked and therefore formed large bubbles. It seems the recipe was too good to be true after all. Hey ho. 3/10.
Here they are straight out of the oven. 10 seconds later, they weren’t so appetising!

P.S. For the pop-up I simply used her basic soufflé recipe and added my own flavourings. They rose and stayed up, so Jane saved the day in the end.

#407 Seftons

The first Earl of Sefton


This recipe comes from the distinguished French Cook Louis Eustache Ude, chef to the Earl of Sefton. He came from good cooking stock himself; his father was chef to King Louis XVI.


Ude was quite a character, there’s a great story of him being hauled in front of a magistrate after he was found selling roast grouse on his menu before the 12th of August (the date from which the gamed season begins. See here for a post all about that). He was given a fine and sent on his way.


The next day, the Scottish Laird who had reported Ude to the police returned to Ude’s restaurant to make sure he was abiding by the rules. Pleased to see there wasn’t a morsel of the offending bird on the menu, he ordered Salami de fruit défendu, i.e. Salmi of Forbidden Fruit, which turned out – of course – to be grouse! The cheeky devil.

Louis Eustache Ude

There was none of this nonsense when he worked for the Earl of Sefton though as they goton like a house on fire, except for one day when he left his service because Ude spotted the Earl’s son adding salt to some soup he made. Offended by this, he turned on his heel and left.


This recipe is essentially a savoury custard. It could only work with a home-made stock though. I imagine it would be excellent nourishing food for someone that is ill. The little custards can be served in their ramekins or turned out onto a plate.


Jane suggests to use a veal stock, but any stock can be used. On the other blog I recently wrote up a recipe for such a stock. For these sorts of dishes where the stock is the star of the show, you need to make your own stock, otherwise you risk it tasting of Cuppa Soup.


Anyway, that’s enough waffle. On with the recipe!


Bring one pint of good, clear, home-made stock to a boil and whisk it into 6 beaten eggs just as you would with a regular custard. Add the grated zest of a lemon, ¼ tsp of ground mace and season with salt and Cayenne pepper, then and whisk in 4 tbs of clarified butter.




Place your ramekins – you’ll need 6 to 8, depending on size – in a deep roasting tin and pour the custard into them and cover with foil. Pour boiling water into the tin, technically turning it into a ban Marie, and carefully slide the tin into an oven already preheated to 180C and bake for 12 to 20 minutes, or until the custards are just set and still have a good wobble on them. Serve straight away with thin, crisp toast, says Good Lady Grigson.


#407 Seftons. These were great, light and satisfying, even though they sound a little odd. I’m thinking that should I ever get my premises, they will definitely go on the menu; they are delicious, light, subtle and very satisfying and could very easily made vegetarian. I imagine a good mushroom stock would work very well as an alternative to veal. 8/10


#293 Mrs Beeton’s Chocolate Soufflé


I’ve cooked quite a few – and eaten quite a few – soufflés in my time, but this is my first sweet one. It comes from the great Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, or to give its full title, The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort. Those Victorians do go on, don’t they? The book is actually a collection of articles that she published in The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine between 1859 and 1861, and although she conjures up imaginations of austerity and matronliness, she actually died at the rather young age of 46 of tuberculosis, or consumption as the Victorians called it, and her great masterwork was published when she was just thirty years of age.

I’ve been putting off doing the sweet soufflés not because I don’t like the idea of them, but because I like to make desserts in advance and soufflés require a certain amount of time and concentration before baking immediately – not something I have the inclination to attempt after cooking a main meal (and perhaps polishing off a few glasses of wine). However, I thought that it was about time I tackled one, and it turns out that it is quite straight-forward, and although the whisking of egg whites and folding them into the chocolate mixture does need to be done at the last minute, much can be prepared in advance.
Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) and butter a cake tin (I used a 6″ one), so you can pop the soufflé straight into the oven. Separate four eggs, place the whites in a large bowl, and beat into the yolks 3 heaped teaspoons of caster sugar, a heaped teaspoon flour and 3 ounces of good quality grated dark chocolate. Now whisk the egg whites to the stiff-peak stage, remove a spoonful of egg white and mix it into the chocolate mixture to ‘slacken’ it. This makes it easier to fold the rest of mixture into the egg whites without losing the air. It is also worth mentioning that using a metal spoon to fold in your egg whites also helps to reduce loss of air. Pour the mix into the buttered cake tin, scatter a little more caster sugar and bake for 20 minutes. Mrs Beeton says to pin a napkin around the tin and bring it to the table straight away before it falls. Serve with pouring cream.

#293 Mrs Beeton’s Chocolate Soufflé. This was a very good soufflé. It wasn’t very sweet, which really showed off the bitter chocolate taste. In fact is tasted just like a whipped up mug of cocoa. The chilled cream – which Americans don’t seem to use on their desserts – in combination with the hot soufflé, really set it off. The only problem was that 20 minutes was a little too long; the centre of the soufflé wasn’t soft, as I like it to be, so it’ll be 15 minutes in the future. That’s my only gripe though. 7.5/10.

#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!).

#278 Crempog Las

Well Shrove Tuesday is almost here, so I thought I’d provide a pancake recipe from English Food. This one is perhaps a more alternative recipe as it is most definitely savoury rather than sweet, and best served up with sausages, bacon and eggs as a breakfast dish rather than for a Pancake Day evening pig-out. In America, people seem to be having much more fun with their Mardi Gras celebrations…
The Welsh seem much more adept at pancakes than the English and I suppose that’s why there are so many Welsh recipes in the Pancakes and Griddle Cakes section of the Teatime chapter of the book. If they weren’t counted, there would be slim pickings. Crempog Las, by the way, translates as green pancakes in Welsh (check out this site for more information on this dish and other Welsh dishes). I didn’t have high hopes as there has been a bad run of recipes from this section…
The other reason why I wanted to cook these pancakes is that I found a pack of sausages that I bought from Harrison Hog Farms. They have a stall at the Rice University Farmers’ Market and breed pigs that look suspiciously like Gloucester Old Spots; a fine old English breed, so I thought they can’t be bad. Naturally, I put in them in the freezer and promptly forgot about them. Even though I have only been in my Texan apartment for five months, I have managed to almost fill my freezer with bits that I see in shops and left overs like wine, egg whites, breadcrumbs and what-not that I expect one day will come in useful. I decided that it needs emptying. It is for the same reason that later on this week I will be doing oxtail soup.
Anyways, I have wittered on far too much:
Using a whisk, mix together four ounces of plain flour, a large egg, a dessertspoon of finely chopped parsley, a heaped teaspoon of finely chopped shallot and enough milk to make a thick batter. Season with salt and pepper. Fry the pancakes in some oil or grease  over a moderately-high heat until golden brown – two or three minutes a side should do it. That’s it. Serve with butter or as part of a fried breakfast.
#278 Crempog Las. These were delicious! A subtle savouriness from the slightly sweet-acrid shallot and the grassy freshness of parsley made them very morish. I am definitely adding these to my breakfast arsenal. Give them a try, they are so very, very easy. 7.5/10.