the main contents list English Food (3)

Great Britain English Food (4)

Welsh Food

last updated 25th May 2001

Sussex Smokies

A simple but glorious starter for a meal and a long-time favourite of Scrote's. For each person you need a ramekin, a small individual version of the straight-sided souffle dish. In the bottom of each ramekin, place a piece of undyed smoked haddock, raw. Cover with single cream, and grate over it a generous amount of cooking cheese, such as cheddar. Top it off with a some grated parmesan for extra 'bite', and bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. Serve each person with it as a starter, still in the ramekin & piping hot.

Steak & Kidney Pudding
(without the Kidney)

It is with some trepidation that Scrote advances this dish in his cook book, mainly because it is hardly ever eaten in the Scrote household, and therefore almost fails to qualify under his first rule - which is that every recipe in the book should be something he actually eats. More-over, it breaks almost all his other rules as well- it is not cheap because it is mainly composed of meat, it is very unhealthy & highly fattening, and it is almost totally lacking in vitamins. However the real reason that Scrote doesn't often cook this jewel of english cookery is that when he does, it effortlessly transports him back to the time when he was twelve years old.

Having said that, steak & kidney pudding nowadays is spectacularly unusual & delicious to eat. In fact it is simplicity itself to cook, yet paradoxically it is ideal for dinner-parties. This is because it is mere assembly cooking and the actual work (the preparation) takes less than half an hour. Because steak & kidney pudding is a boiled (or rather steamed), the cooking itself is very slow and takes four or more hours - you can do all the preparation hours before any guests arrive. However to cook this, you will need to possess a number of (slightly) specialised utensils.

First and foremost, you need a really big, deep pan with a lid that can go on the stove- big enough to take (and cover) the bowl that the pudding itself will be cooked in. Scrote himself uses the two-gallon pot he habitually cooks his soups in. Secondly (& obviously) you need a bowl in which to cook the pudding itself, and then you need something to cover it with. You can get away with grease-proof paper, but Scrote himself uses a side-plate as a lid on his pyrex bowl (not a full-sized dinner-plate). Finally, you need a pudding cloth and some string. Scrote doesn't have these things and doesn't use them himself, but you should be aware that it is surprisingly difficult to extract a heavy, well-boiled bowl from within a deep pan containing boiling water without scalding yourself - unless you have something to haul it up by. A pudding cloth is a foot-square white cotton cloth, placed over the bowl and tied under the rim with ordinary (i.e. untreated, un-meltable) string. The corners of the cloth are then knotted over the bowl, thus preventing the string simply falling down and providing a useful means of extracting the bowl later.

Assuming you plan to make your steak and kidney pudding in a two-pint bowl, then you wiill need about 1lb of good braising steak do for three people. In the old days steak & kidney was so commonly used that butchers would keep a bowl of it made-up and already diced. Nowadays most people don't like the idea of kidney so we will substitute a few substantial (but closed) mushrooms in their place. Choose your braising steak carefully in the piece, pick it over and remove any gristly bits and cut it into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper and a touch of thyme. As this meat will only be steamed, the quality of meat you put in now will be repaid later. Chop an onion roughly, and quarter some large closed-cup white mushrooms, and mix them with the meat.

In another bowl, roughly mix 4 ounces of suet with 8 ounces of self-raising flour. (Suet is a hard fat, already shredded and not 'rubbed-in' to the flour - it remains separate rather like grains of rice in the flour.) Season with a little salt, and add enough water to make a dough. (because the fat is not rubbed-in, it takes quite a lot of water.) Roll the dough out roughly on a floured board into a big circle. Now cut a big quadrant out of the circle- about a quarter. Reserve this for the lid, and use the remainder to line the pudding bowl with suet pastry, smoothing over the joins and trimming off any excess. Fill the bowl with the chopped meat, onion and mushroom, and then top it up with beer. (Ideally a porter such as Guiness, but any dark beer will do.) Finally cover it over with the piece reserved for the lid, crimp the edges neatly together and trim off any excess.

Now cover the bowl with a lid, and lay over the pudding-cloth. Tie the string around the bowl under the rim, and pull the corners of the cloth up and knot them together over the top. Lower the pudding into the big pan, and adjust the water level so it comes some way up the side of the bowl. Bring the water to the boil and lower the heat. Cover tightly and simmer for at least four hours, checking the water level occasionally and topping it up with hot water if it gets low. It won't hurt to cook it for even longer. Finally, extract the pudding from the pan of boiling water, undo it and take off the lid, and loosen the pudding from the bowl around the edges. If you are feeling brave, then invert the bowl onto a plate, otherwise serve it from the bowl with green vegetables.

France Steak Tournedos

This is the prince of steaks, the 'eye' of the fillet, cut an inch thick. If you don't like your meat rare, then don't buy this steak because it is a waste of the death of the animal to ruin the finest piece of meat in it. As one of Scrote's equally repulsive brothers said when asked how he liked his steak done, "just wipe its arse, lead it past the stove and hit it on the head".

A tournedos is a slice from the fillet. Each steak is small and round, about an inch thick and may be 4 ounces in weight or so- not a large steak really. Cooking a tournedos is utterly simple- the biggest problem is actually getting it reasonably warm all the way through without overcooking- because of this you probably should not turn up the heat quite as fiercely as you might think. All you need a smear of oil in a good heavy frying pan. Get the pan hot, put all the steaks in at once, and sear them for several minutes first on one side, then the other. Push the steaks to one side, turn down the heat, and make a lightning sauce in the pan from the brown meat juices- either a red wine sauce made from a big glass of wine (with a little flour mixed in to thicken the sauce slightly so it coats the steak), or a cream sauce made from a tub of single cream with dijon mustard and/or crushed green peppercorns. Heat the sauce, serve the steaks on the plates, and pour some sauce over each. Accompany with a Pommes Dauphinoises that you have baking slowly in the oven and mangetout peas, or some other bright green vegetable which is easy to cook.


Toad-in-the-hole (or turd-in-the-hole, 
as one of Scrote's brothers 
usually refers to it) is another old English dish and a traditional favourite of Scrotes. You need good quality herby English pork sausages, and the batter for Yorkshire Pudding given elsewhere. It is worth shopping around for the sausages- Scrote tends to avoid the packet sausages in supermarkets and get his from a small local butcher.

For the batter, you need 4 ounces of plain flour, 1 egg, half a pint of milk and some butter. You will also need a mixing bowl, and a ballon whisk helps, although a fork will do. Put the flour in the mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and break the egg into it. Whisk into it some of the flour, making a thick paste. Keep mixing in more of the flour, adding some milk if the paste becomes too thick to manage, and beating out any lumps. When all the flour has been incorporated, add the rest of the milk and whisk the mixture thoroughly. The mixture should be like single cream in consistency, but if in doubt err on the liquid side. Set the mixture to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour- this is important. Before using it, whisk the mixture again.

Smear the shallow baking dish with a little oil to prevent sticking. Arrange the sausages (there should be eight to the pound) and set to bake in a moderately hot oven for 30 to 40 minutes to cook. In the last 5 minutes turn the oven up so that the fat that has sweated from the sausages becomes smoking hot. Pour the batter over the sausages into the dish and quickly return to the oven for a further 40 minutes. Resist the urge to peek or the batter will collapse. The batter should rise and curl over the embedded sausages, brown and crisp on the outside and soft and succulent on the inside. When it is ready, cut up the dish into portions and serve with cooked green vegetables on the side.

Trout with Leeks

Old Scrote is not that keen on trout and regards this dish as a reckless extravagance, mainly because he doesn't eat it very much himself. Prepare the trout by gutting and washing. Leave on the skins, tails and heads. Chop up some leeks into smallish lumps, slice a lemon and put inside the trout together with a lump of butter, a splash of olive oil, green peppercorns (just a few) and white wine vinegar. Wrap in tin foil and bake on quite a high heat. Remove the foil for the last few minutes to crisp the skin on top.

Union Jacks

Scrote thought this was a recipe of his own devising, until he came across the very similar and traditional Devils on Horseback (kidneys wrapped in bacon and grilled) and Angels on Horse-back (scallops wrapped in bacon and grilled). Scrote named his for the curious criss-cross pattern made by the bacon wrapping.

Scrote starts by making a stuffing of breadcrumbs, finely chopped onion, 1 egg, & sage. He removes the rind of 12 rashers of good smoky bacon then beats them & rolls them out with a rolling pin until they are twice their usual size. He divides 1 pound of premium sausage meat into 12 pieces or so and forms each piece into a sort of cup with his fingers. Into this he then inserts a good spoonful of stuffing and massages the meat up until it closes over the top and he can smooth the join away with his finger. Then he takes the ball of stuffed sausage meat and wraps one of the extended rashers of bacon around it several times so that it is completely covered and the last end is at the bottom. Each is set in the baking dish and when they are all made, it is baked in a medium oven for 1 hour.

A very similar and equally delicious version can be made using chicken-thighs, boned, stuffed and wrapped in bacon- a sort of miniature English roast with the trimmings.

Venison in Red Wine

Venison is the meat from deer- it is characterised by being very dark, and having next to no fat on it, so it makes an excellent casserole. It is also supposed to be very healthy.

Ruth's recipe: Chop the venison into small pieces. Soak in red wine to which has been added, caramel syrup, brown sugar, a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, dates or prunes, vinegar, chopped carrots, small potatoes if liked, a small onion, a clove of garlic, a little nutmeg and anything else you feel like. Leave for as long as possible in the fridge (overnight is ok). Simmer for a very long time - as long as you can - until very tender.

Scrote's recipe: Take 1 lb of casserole venison and pick it over for any gribbly bits. Cut it into chunks. Chop an onion, and clean and trim a good quantity of small closed mushrooms. Take your cast-iron casserole and sear the venison ferociously in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Turn the heat down, add the chopped onion and stew it a bit. Add the mushrooms and stew them as well so they colour and absorb some oil. Keeping the heat moderate, add a big teaspoonful of plain flour and mix it around quickly so that it takes the remaining oil but doesn't get a chance to form ugly lumps or burn onto the bottom of the pan. Add a glass of strong red wine, and mix it with the paste of onion to form a thick sauce. Add a cupful of water, so that you get a good gravy that covers the meat. Add a pinch of salt, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a dessertspoonful of dried juniper berries, whole. Close the casserole tightly and simmer on the top of the stove very gently for an hour, checking the liquid occasionally and stirring so it doesn't stick on the bottom. Do not cook too much longer than this as the venison goes tough and stringy, and the juniper loses all its flavour if it is cooked too long. This dish is very rich with a strange, cool background of pine forest from the juniper. Serve with boiled potatoes to absorb the gravy.

Welsh Rarebit

You need a grill for this, and it is a good idea to trick someone else into volunteering to clean it afterwards. There is a fair amount of Scrote-ish dispute about what constitutes a Welsh rarebit. The name is routinely applied to straightforward cheese on toast, but the real thing is slightly more complicated. One method is to make a small thick white sauce from plain flour, butter and milk, then add a large amount of grated cooking cheese and a dessertspoonful of mustard to produce a very thick cheese sauce. Another method is to dispense with making the white sauce and heat a small quantity of milk with the grated cheese and the mustard directly, like a fondue. However some cheeses coagulate into a rubbery lump in a watery gravy under this treatment, particularly if over-cooked. In either case the idea is to end up with a very thick cheese sauce for the next stage.

Toast several slices of white bread (to suit the quantity of sauce you have made) moderately on both sides. Cover each with a generous helping of the cheese mixture, and return to the grill for a fierce toasting until the topping starts to colour and bubbles. Serve each on a plate. A Buck Rarebit is a welsh rarebit with a fried egg on top. The dish is very similar to the French Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame, but cooked in a different way. For the authentic Welsh version of Welsh Rarebit, try Caws Pobi.

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding is the traditonal accompaniment to Roast Beef (along with English Mustard or Horseradish Sauce). It really is made in Yorkshire and Scrote says it is sometimes served there first with the gravy to take the edge off appetites before the meat comes in. In restaurants it is often baked in cake trays to make individual servings, and over-cooked so that it does not collapse if it is not served immediately. Real Yorkshire Pudding is usually cooked as a piece and cut up for serving- it is brown and crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside

For the batter, you need 4 ounces of plain flour, 1 egg, half a pint of milk and some butter. You will also need a mixing bowl, and a ballon whisk helps, although a fork will do. Put the flour in the mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and break the egg into it. Whisk into it some of the flour, making a thick paste. Keep mixing in more of the flour, adding some milk if the paste becomes too thick to manage, and beating out any lumps. When all the flour has been incorporated, add the rest of the milk and whisk the mixture thoroughly. The mixture should be like single cream in consistency, but if in doubt err on the liquid side. Set the mixture to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour- this is important. Before using it, whisk the mixture again.

You need a very hot oven. Put a shallow baking dish with a knob of dripping or fat in it into the oven until the fat is smoking hot, then whip it out, pour the batter into the dish and return it to the oven for 40 minutes. Turn the oven down slightly after the first 20 minutes or so, and resist the urge to peek- the yorkshire pudding rises and puffs up, and a blast of cool air half-way through will collapse it.