Afternoon Tea Cakes #victorianrecipe #recipe #goodfood

This is another Victorian recipe from the “Sure to Rise” cookbook.
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I’ve adapted the recipe by increasing the amount of sugar.

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • flour for dusting
  • Fruit Filling – the original says raspberry jam, see below for an easy quick and good apple filling

Mix the butter and flour, thoroughly to form a pie crust like mixture. Add the baking powder and sugar. Mix.

Add the egg, and enough milk to form a smooth dough. Roll it out about 1/4 inch (4 mm or so) thick.
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Then cut in rounds and put about 1/2 teaspoon of filling in each.
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Wet the edges and fold over. Bake at 400F (200C) on a greased sheet for about 10 minutes.
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Apple filling

Quarter, peel, and core one apple. Cut into small pieces. Add about 1 tablespoon sugar. Microwave four minutes and add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (if desired). Much easier than making jam in the Victorian manner, but it works.

Wings, Hot and Otherwise #easyrecipe

One of the troubles with cooking something that is “real good” is it’s gone before you have the time to take a nice picture. Chicken wings is one of those recipes that is so simple anyone can do it well. Bags of frozen wings, sans coating, are available in most supermarkets in the US. We’ll have to try next time we’re on the other side of the pond.


  • Wings, raw, frozen, and without a coating or preparation. Let them thaw in the refrigerator, or in a bag in water, or in the microwave.
  • Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Hot Sauce, Tabasco style (vinegar-based)

Preheat your oven to about 425F (225C). Meanwhile dry the raw defrosted wings and place them in a plastic bag with about a tablespoon of salt. Shake to coat. At this stage remove any that you don’t want to be very spicy Add about one tablespoon of powdered cayenne pepper. This is very hot (D’oh), very good, but I repeat very hot. You could add a pinch of powdered garlic as well, but I’m a purist. Shake the bag to coat the wings.

Place the wings on a rack over a pan to catch the drippings. (Unless you like a really really filthy oven, then have at it.) Bake in the hot oven for 30-45 minutes until brown and crispy. Drying the chicken first helps it crispen.

When done remove from the oven. Place the spicy pieces in a bowl and coat with the hot sauce. Let it soak for about 5 minutes.

Eat and enjoy. We served it with tortilla chips, carrots and ranch dressing. Oh, and Gewurztraminer.

Victorian Shortbread

This one is a bit of a disappointment.

From the Sure to Rise cookbook (1895-ish Published as an ad every year)

  • 1/2 pound flour
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Cream the sugar and the butter, then mix in the flour.
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Press into an ungreased pan with your knuckles, smooth with a knife and put fork holes in it. Bake in a slow oven for an hour.

I tried it. It is not up to modern standards. Dry and not sweet. Nothing like the shortbread you have today. I’d add more sugar and make it thicker (that was my mistake).

Bacon Quiche, in the French Style. #recipe #goodfood

This is a quick, relatively easy, recipe for a European-style quiche.

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First, set the oven to 400F (205C).
Then brown about 1 pound (1/3 Kg) bacon. I used a relatively meaty American bacon. In the UK it would be called streaky bacon. It’s sort of important to cook the bacon slowly so that it browns rather than burns. This gives you plenty of time for the next step.

While the bacon is cooking, make the crust.
I use a simple flour crust, similar to what I use for pies, but without any added sugar.

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb, 100g) margarine or butter. Sweet butter is probably not a good idea for this recipe
  • 1/2 teaspoon (large pinch) salt.

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Cut the margarine into the flour and salt. It should look like coarse corn meal, or actually, Masa Harina tortilla flour. I usually add a small amount of water, not enough to let the mix ball up, and then remove about 1/3 of the mixture. Then I’ll add enough water to the rest to form a plastic dough. (about 2 tablespoons the first addition and another 3 the second time.) Roll out the dough, put some of the dry mixture on it, fold over and roll out again. Do this several times until all the dry mixture is used up. (You can just add enough water and roll it out once, but this procedure makes it fluffier. It’s up to you.)

Shred about 1 cup of a strongly flavored cheese. In the US I use “Swiss Cheese” (which isn’t Swiss). In the UK I’d use a gruyere or something similar that wasn’t cheddar or leicester. I haven’t tried it, but I bet stilton or brie would be really good.


2016-01-21 18.24.22Put the bacon and cheese in the crust. Note that I have the torte shell on a thin baking pan. It will often spill a little bit in the oven, and it’s much easier to clean up a baking sheet than an oven.

Whip together six eggs, salt and pepper and pour it over the bacon and cheese.  Bake for 30 Minutes in the 400F (205C) oven
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Quick Satay Chicken

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a simple way to make Satay chicken

Cut a chicken breast (or two) in thin strips. Dry rub with:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot Madras curry powder

Meanwhile heat up the griddle. THIS IS IMPORTANT – even with a well-seasoned griddle, if it’s too cold the meat will stick. I will typically oil the griddle with some corn oil on a paper towel.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

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Place on the griddle:
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Four or five minutes latter, the meat is half done, so flip it. This is where pre-heating the griddle will repay you.
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After another few minutes it’s done. Enjoy.
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Hoppin’ John and Stella’s Polish Cabbage. #recipe

Two New Year’s recipes.
Traditional food that’s good tasting.

    1. Hopin’ John.

Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern dish using blackeyed peas and smoked ham hocks. It’s an example of “poor food” that is both good and fills a cultural niche. Eat this on January first and the rest of the year you’ll eat better. Well maybe, I think it’s pretty darn good no matter when you eat it.

      • 1/2 pound dried blackeyed peas. Ideally soak these the night before in cold water.
      • At least one smoked ham hock.
      • One onion coarsely chopped and sauteed at least to the wilt stage
      • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard.
      • 1 tablespoon hot sauce

Put the ingredients in a pot, typically the one you saute’ed the onions in, and add enough water to cover the peas with about one inch to spare.
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Bring to a boil and simmer until done. It takes several hours for the meat and beans to be completely done with the meat falling off the bone. Periodically stir, and add more water if needed. I adjust the amounts of mustard and hot sauce to taste. This example is a bit rich in ham hocks because they came in a pack of three.

    1. Stella’s Polish Cabbage.

Stella’s Polish Cabbage is a family recipe from my Irish mother-in-law. She figured out how to cook cabbage the way her husband, a Polish pilot in the RAF during world war 2, liked. My English wife has always called it “Polish Cabbage.” It’s not particularly New Year’s food, but goes exceedingly well with Hoppin’ John.

      • 1 Head Cabbage. Cored and coarsely chopped. Sprinkle with salt and set to wilt overnight in the refrigerator. In the old days in England, when the house had a single coal fire, she’d just leave it out on the counter.
      • 1 Onion, Coarsely chopped
      • 2 tablespoons butter and a teaspoon of oil. Melt the butter in the oil (avoids burning).

Thoroughly rinse the cabbage, to remove the excess salt. Saute the onion in the butter and oil mixture. When it is past the wilt stage add the cabbage and cover.

The cabbage will give off water as it wilts. The mixture will rapidly lose about half its volume. Stir to prevent scorching and periodically add a few tablespoons of water. The amount isn’t critical, you need enough to keep it from burning, and it will evaporate over time.

For the next hour, until thoroughly done, simmer over a low heat. Periodically stir and refresh water.

Pumpkin Pie

I make a wicked pumpkin pie, and the basic recipe works well with sweet potato or any similar filling.

Pumpkin pie is basically a vegetable and spice flavoured custard in a pie crust. You bake it in a moderate oven (375 F, 205 C) until it sets. Then you eat it (at least if you can get there before your family’s pie monster finishes it).

I’m going to give my recipe in the order that is easiest to do, which means start with the crust, make the custard, roll out the crust, put the custard in the pie and bake it.

  1. Pie crust step 1
    • 2 cups plain flour
    • 1 stick margarine (1/4 pound or so)
    • 1 tablespoon sugar (for a sweet pie, omit for meat pies)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Work the margarine into the flour, sugar and salt. I use a mixer, but forks and pastry knives are almost as easy. It should be coarse – sort of like corn meal- possibly with a few small chunks of the margarine left.

      Put it in a bowl in the freezer to chill and rest.

  2. The filling
  3. This is basically the same as most cans of pumpkin have on the back, but with a minor twist.

    • 1 can pumpkin (1 lb per pie, don’t bother with the “pie filling”) The equivalent is about 1 1/2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin or sweet potato.
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 can condensed milk (about 1 cup)
    • 1 tablespoon corn starch – this helps the custard to set. You won’t find this on the standard recipe.
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

    Mix the eggs, sugar, salt, corn starch and spices. It should be a creamy yellowish mixture. Add the condensed milk and mix thoroughly. Finally add the pumpkin and mix. Set aside.

Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey #recipe

This is our traditional way of preparing the thanksgiving bird.

Stuffing for a smallish turkey:

  • one loaf white bread
  • one pound cheap fatty pork sausage
  • four or five stalks of celery
  • one or two onions
  • salt, pepper, thyme, sage to taste
  • two eggs

Cook the sausage, crumbled up in small bits. Chop and add the onions and celery. Cook to sweat that. It should be limp but not browned. Add about 1 teaspoon dried sage and 2 teaspoons dried thyme.
It should look something like this:
I would taste a small amount, and possibly add pepper (< 1 teaspoon) and maybe salt (there is usually plenty in the sausage). I typically use “lite” salt that has potassium chloride because I like the extra potassium in my diet.

While it’s cooking clean the bird, remembering to remove the neck and gizzards (use them to make gravy).
Salt both the outside and inside of the bird. (The red dot is from a thermometer plug that’s common in the USA.) Find a pan which will fit it.

Coarsely cut the bread into cubes and add to the mixture. Add the eggs to it and mix.
I will typically deglaze the pan by putting about 1/2 cup of water in it and reducing that to about half the volume. It removes the brown, tasty residue from the pan and converts it into a brown, tasty liquid that gets added to the stuffing.

Stuff the bird. Cover in foil and bake at a moderate heat (300F, 150C) until done. I usually remove the foil about an hour before serving to let it color up.

A Quick Chicken Pie.

This is a surprisingly simple recipe that works both on the stove top, and even more amazingly, with period cooking gear, and completely unbelievably with tenderfoot/webelos scouts (did I ever mention I’m a scout leader and adult trainer?).

I’m going to give two variations, the “fail safe” one that you can eat uncooked, and the somewhat nicer one that you can cook when you know what you’re doing.

The recipe

fail safe

  • one or two onions, cut up
  • two or three carrots, cut thin

Saute, what the heck, fry until they start to brown. Use oil in the bottom of your dutch oven. (Hint, dutch ovens can sit on a camp stove. ‘Nuff said.)
Pour in:

  • two cans condensed cream of chicken soup. Plus the water they need.
  • two cans precooked chicken (pouches are nice too).
  • a grasshopper and some wood ash (not really)
Cover with an unrolled package of crescent rolls. 
Bake until the rolls are done and the soup is bubbling. 


The Right Way

  • one or two onions, cut up
  • two or three carrots, cut thin

Saute, what the heck, fry until they start to brown. Remove from the heat and add 3 cutup chicken breasts (or as they would have said in Victorian times, ‘white meat’).
Cook the meat until the until it’s more or less done. There will be a surprising amount of water coming out of the meat, and you want to get shot of it. When it’s nearly done, return the onions and carrots, add about 1 cup of chicken stock and a tablespoon of corn starch. Boil to reduce. Then put in a baking dish – or dutch oven, but I’m going to show a picture in a baking dish.

You could use the crescent rolls, but where’s the fun in that?

  • One cup ‘type L’ biscuit mix (self-rising flour with a hard shortening rubbed in)
  • quarter cup (more or less) milk.

Mix then roll out to about 1/4 inch. Or whatever it takes to make it cover the dish. Cover the filling and bake. (400F or 225C 20 minutes, until the crust is done). This is about as close as a Yank can come to the suet dumping crust my English sister-in-law makes.

Eat and enjoy. Goes well with Boone’s farm. Unless you’re scouting, when it goes well with lemonade.

Christmas Cake.

Christmas Cake is one of our family traditions, brought over from the “Old Country.” Well not so old, as we have current connections to England. It’s a solid good Fruitcake. By English standards, we’re too late. Should have set this up a year ago for proper aging.

In any case here’s the recipe:

  1. Cream 2/3 cup butter or margerine. Add 2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons molasses. Cream.
  2. Add 5 eggs, one at a time. Then turn the mixer up and cream the lot.
2015-10-31 15.17.53 It should look like this. Then add:

  1. 4 cups plain flour.
  2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup brandy, doesn’t have to be the best grade. VS is fine.
2015-10-31 15.23.21 Add a couple of pounds of candied peel, a cup of raisins and a pound of candied cherries.
2015-10-31 15.27.06 After mixing, it will be rather stiff. You’ll need to stir it with a spoon. Traditionally everyone in the house should take a turn giving it a stir.
Then put it in a greased springform pan. The beer can is for scale. 2015-10-31 15.31.43
Bake at 350F (200C) until done. It might take 1-2 hours or more. I often leave it overnight, after turning the oven off.  It should look like this: 2015-11-01 07.58.32
2015-11-01 07.59.49 Poke holes in it, and then “feed it” with about 1/2 cup of brandy. Cover it with foil and store in a cool, dark place to mature. I’ll feed the cake every two weeks or so until Christmas.