Monday, April 30, 2007

An English Baked Custard Tart, A Taste of Yellow


picture photograph of British English style custard tart inspired by Marcus Wareing and Delia Smith 2007 copyright of sam breach

Barbara over at Winos & Foodies is running an event called A Taste of Yellow in conjunction with:

LIVESTRONG Day, Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country. LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16.

Those of you who know Barbara, will also know that she has cancer. One day she hopes she will be able to call herself a cancer survivor. Nothing would make me happier. Earlier this year, after having my first mammogram at the age of 40 I had to have an operation to have a lump removed from my breast. Luckily for me, it turned out to be benign. Barbara has not been so lucky, but despite her own suffering, she never failed for one second to be a positive and unfailing support to me throughout my own ordeal. Even though I have never met her! Barbara sent me assurances and advice through email and via google chat. She was my guiding, golden star. To support Barabra's own efforts to raise awareness is the least I can do, especially since it gave me an excuse to make a glorious English-style Baked Custard Tart that was the best I have ever tasted.

English-style Baked Custard Tarts
From reading I have done on the internet (who knows if it is to be trusted), the English have been making custard tarts at least since Medieval times. Growing up in Britain, commercially-made individual custard tarts that looked like this, were ubiquitous in every neighbourhood bakery. I have to confess, that although I loved the eggy, nutmeg-speckled filling of these little tarts, I detested the often-soggy, pale insipid shortcrust pastry that held the custard in place.

I started doing some research, online, into custard recipes and came across this charming video of Marcus Wareing making "The Perfect Custard Tart". (Although after double-checking with a couple of experts that there wasn't some new-fangled idea I wasn't aware of, I believe that putting pie weights inside the shell in a plastic bag would probably not be the smartest move. Correct us if we are wrong.) Apparently - Wareing's tart recipe won the BBC's The Great British Menu dessert and was served at the Queen’s 80th birthday lunch. If its good enough for her Majesty, then it is good enough for me! (Although Wareing does note in this interview, that "I don’t want to be remembered for a custard tart when I’m gone!")

Although he tendered the intial inspiration, I didn't actually use Wareing's recipe to make my fabulous tart. I had some pate sucree, rich pastry containing almonds, eggs and sugar, in my freezer (from my favourite Pierre Herme recipe in The Cooks Book) and I used that for the shell. I baked it blind for 10 minutes before removing the beans, brushing it with beaten egg and then baking another 10 minutes to form a glaze that word deter the custard from leaking through the dough. I use pate sucree all the time when it is not called for. Why? Because I love it the most. Who cares if you are meant to use soggy shortcrust for Bakewells and Custard tarts? I don't like shortcrust nearly so much, so I am going for the decadent pate sucree every time instead, so there.

Once the shell was ready, I followed good old Delia's instructions for the filling. After 30 minutes in the oven I had a fine specimen of wobbly, nutmeg-dredged, custard tart that I could hardly wait to cool down and try. I don't know if you have ever had an English-style baked custard tart and I am not sure if you would like it. It's not too sweet, it's extremely eggy (like a quiche, almost) and the nutmeg isn't exactly subtle. It's rustic, wholesome and it has substance, which is how I happen to like desserts. Maybe it doesn't look that pretty or fine, but the real pleasure is delivered at the moment you don't really care what it looks like any more. Mmmmm...

picture photograph of yellow foods collage for a livestrong taste of yellow event 2007 copyright of sam breach
More Yellow Foods From The Becks & Posh Archives

Update May 1st
A few hours after I published the above post I had a telephone call from England with some very bad news. My childhood best friend, the free-spirited, unconventional Sheena to whom I was practically glued to as a teen has just found out she has got cancer. It has taken several months of her being fobbed off by the NHS about what has been making her so ill before finding out this terrible news. She has to wait a little longer for more details, but in the meantime I would appreciate anyone who can send her some positive thoughts to Wales, where she lives. Thank you. Below is the only photgraph I could find of us together. It was Christmas 1986 so please forgive us our fashion faux pas. Plus you have to understand, we were two little hippies back then...

picture photograph sam and sheena circa 1986 2007 copyright of sam breach and christine burridge

Local Resources
Golden Yellow Eggs | Marin Sun Farms down to $7 a dozen
Organic Cream | Clover

Other Resources & Further Reading
Wikepdia | Custard Tarts
Baking for Britain | Custard Tarts

2006 | "The Best Thing You Ever Did"
2005 | "It's Like a Starter You Could Have in a Fanncy Restaurant"

© 2007 Sam Breach at "Becks & Posh", This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact[AT]gmail[DOT]com to report any suspected violations. Thank you.
An English Baked Custard Tart, A Taste of Yellow

Friday, April 27, 2007

An Incredible Moment, A VIP

And Many Thanks

picture photograph of orchid on our deck 2007 copyright of fred shcmidt via the website of sam breach
Photograph by Frederic Schmidt

I was overwhelmed by the number of people I know who came to help support Dining Out For Life last night at ACME Chophouse. Perhaps the most important guest, was the last to arrive, a young gentleman, known to Becks & Posh readers as Tim.

Tim is just a regular young guy. Good looking with a gorgeous girlfriend, I met him a few years ago at Industrial Light and Magic when he was moved into the office I sat in. As the legend goes, one day he said to me "Why don't you start a blog?" "What's a blog?" I responded... And the rest is history.

So last night, seeing Tim sitting somewhere near the center of the restaurant with tables and tables full of food bloggers and their friends around him, it occured to me that without him none of this would have happened. Tim is the pivot that led to this blog and therefore eventually to everything that occurred last night. Almost three years ago he started the incredible chain of events that led to so many wonderful friendships and to over 40 people, bloggers, their friends and even readers (hello Sarah!) coming to dinner at ACME Chophouse. I have a lot to thank him for.

To everyone (I am not going to list you all individually else I'll be late for work - but you know who you are), who came and spent money on food and then more money on raffle tickets, thank you all. To Kristen - special thanks for the glass of bubbly at the start of the evening to help me calm my nerves - I owe you. To Amanda and Nikki - thank you both for helping me with the Ambassadorship - I couldn't have done it without you both and thanks also to John Eppenheimer, General Manager at ACME Chophouse, for taking care of us three by refreshing us with complimentary drinks and food.

Last not but not least - thanks to those of you who couldn't make it last night but who generously made online donations instead. We raised $2260 from raffle ticket sales.

You are all wonderful, thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you missed our yesterday, the lines are still open, donate here.

2005 | Indian Essence

© 2007 Sam Breach at "Becks & Posh", This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact[AT]gmail[DOT]com to report any suspected violations. Thank you.
An Incredible Moment, A VIP

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dining Out For Life, today, to help STOP AIDS

Ways all of You can help

Today, if every Becks & Posh reader donates just one dollar each, together we could raise over $2000 help STOP AIDS. Just imagine how cool that would be and then head straight over here to help make that happen.

Otherwise, make a reservation to join me and Amanda Berne whilst we work as Ambassadors for Dining Out for Life at ACME Chophouse this evening, 26th April, and 25% of what you spend on food whilst dining will be donated by the restaurant to help STOP AIDS.

Thanks so much to everyone who is helping us support the San Francisco Dining Out for Life efforts for 2007 by making donations and reservations. I am looking forward to meeting both new and familiar faces at ACME Chophouse later tonight.

Local Resources
New Bay Area Food sites and Blogs to check out:


San Francisco Menu Pages Blog

Yellow Pears


2005 | Shalimar, The Tenderloin

© 2007 Sam Breach at "Becks & Posh", This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact[AT]gmail[DOT]com to report any suspected violations. Thank you.
Dining Out For Life, today, to help STOP AIDS

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Modern English Dinner Party

In 9 Courses [Menu]

Guest blogged by Amanda Berne, Senior Cookbook Editor at Ten Speed Press.

Photographed by T. Shane Gilman

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
Nyetimber - Champagne-style English Sparkling wine really does taste great after its been laid down for a couple of years (thanks for the tip Andrew)

Friday morning, well into the planning of our feast… recipes chosen, guests invited, wine pairings suggested… an e-mail comes in from Sam, my co-chef/conspirator—you know, the owner of this blog. Some highlights:

From Sam Breach
To Amanda Berne
Date Apr 20, 2007 5:21 AM
Subject arrrgh

"last nigh i stabbed my hand wit a skewer… cant move my middle left finger…i am try to find vicodene but i cant find it…why does it hurt so much?"

Uh, oh.

The quick story? Sam was in pain for the love of English food. She stabbed herself with a skewer while trying to rig some yogurt draining contraption in her refrigerator with skewers and rubberbands.

Don't try this at home. Really.

We had to feed 12 people in roughly 36 hours. Nine courses, including an amuse, fish course, soup course, appetizer, palate cleanser, entrée, cheese course, dessert and mignardise. The last thing I needed was a swollen, drooling co-chef with one hand. I offered postponement, but to my relief she didn't. My Sam, she's a trooper.

It's not like we just wake up, e-mail each other and say, hey, let's have a nine course dinner party for 12 tonight.

We started weeks before and the spreadsheet master, that's Sam to the mere mortals out there, got us hooked up on the Google shared spreadsheet so that we could start tossing ideas around. It was St. George's Day, some holiday in England, and Sam was set for an English feast.

I should offer — I'm not English, nor British even. I'm from Baltimore; not very helpful. What Sam doesn't know is that I might have inwardly cringed a little when she suggested that. English food is the butt of many, many jokes, some of which I might have made at one point. I mean, really, who eats faggots and feels ok about it after?

Here was a typical conversation during our planning process:

"Sam, how about we do rarebit?"
"Amanda, that's Welsh not English." Oh.

"Sam, how about we do mushy peas?"
"um, no, they are gross." Oh.
(I won on that one though; see later in post.)

Beans on toast? Gross.
Black pudding? Nope, can't really get it here.
Bacon pudding? Um, what?!? Ok, this one doesn't exist.

Getting the point? There could be no Sam down — I needed her.

But, for those who have met Sam, well, she's one tough broad, and Friday night she picked me up to go shopping and get started. We hauled everything up to her amazing apartment, and got to work.

First thing was first: We had to order pizza.

With that tough task out of the way, it was time to start prepping. That night we made Campari and grapefruit sodas; cleaned fresh sardines to marinate in malt vinegar; made chicken wingettes into stylish lollipops; ate pizza; prepped the tikka masala sauce; ate some chocolate; made mint oil; drank champers.


As usual, Sam woke me up at some ungodly hour to go to the farmers' market. She softened the blow with a cup of tea and promised to buy me a Claire's Square for my trouble. Bribery works, folks. Her hand was still swollen, but looking (a bit) better, but she still couldn't do certain things. Like zip her own coat—that's what friends are for.

We spent the next 12 hours shopping and cooking, with barely a moment to sit down. There were moments of panic (I won't tell you which ones), and moments of pure, unadulterated joy, while tasting all the dishes (and the Claire's Flapjacks, my new favorite treat). And many moments in between as we danced around the kitchen to BBC Radio 2 streamed in through the speakers. It was all-British, all the time from this moment on. Including the fresh English muffins that I bought from Boulette's Larder to cheer up my wounded English friend. It worked, especially with the salty English-style butter. Oh, and the lemon cake.

We finished down to the wire, I was out of the shower minutes before our first guests arrived, and the kitchen was clean with our stations set to plate each dish as it was served.

We went for a modern English approach...

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
Mini Yorkshire puddings with seared grass-fed beef, fresh horseradish sauce and watercress were the perfect starter for when guests arrived. A toast of good English bubbly that Sam had been cellaring for 2 years, was actually quite a nice way to start the evening. It was only when everyone was there that we told the guests our St. George's theme

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
If you've been to England and haven't scarfed down fish and chips, hot out of the fryer, 1 a.m. after the pubs close, then you haven't been to England. Our version, being the first course, was considerably lighter. We marinated fresh local sardines, made a mash of English peas, and home-fried paper-thin potato chips. Fried in groundnut (peanut) oil—um, ridiculous

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
Peas and mint are a classic English combination, so we prepared a super silky pea soup with a drizzle, polka dot and swirl of mint oil. The trick here is that you don't need to strain the soup—just blend like hell until it's as smooth as you want it. That could be up to five minutes

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman

Curry houses are some of the best eating on the cheap in London, so we paid homage with the "Chicken Dippa Masala," which were yogurt-marinated chicken "lollipops" with a smooth, spicy, sweet masala. We were eating this out of the blender with spoons. Shhhhhhhh

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
Gin; cucumbers. Must I say more on the English-ness? And, yes, they were English cucumbers

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman

I don't know when beef Wellington went out of fashion, but I say we make a protest to bring it back. Especially our deconstructed wellys with puff pastry circles, grass-fed filet, mushroom duxelle, seared foie, herb crepes and pan sauce. Rich? Yes. I might have licked the plate. Served with the cutest little kale-kissed Bubble & Squeak cakes ever.

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
I don't know why ploughmen only eat cheese. I think it's an English thing. But, I love Ploughman's lunch. Ours included an English Cheddar and Cheshire. We had rhubarb two ways to go with it – chutney and stewed – and salty English (syle) butter for the bread. At least what I hadn't used in cooking that day. Oops!

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
I found my new favorite dessert. Sticky toffee pudding. It's so wonderfully English, with a simple caramel made from cream, brown sugar and butter. I ate mine, and then the guy's next to me. Ok, I didn't eat his, but we split the remainder of someone else's. I know. It's a sickness

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
Finally, for a last bite, Maids of Honour, the small puff pastry tarts with a curd, almond and lemon-y filling

picture photograph 2007 copyright of T Shane Gilman
Each course had wine or beer pairings [like the Duchy Originals Organic English Ale pictured above] that we assigned, and we finished the night dancing to one of England's modern songstresses, Amy Winehouse

Next time any of you refer to English food as a joke, well, I'm gonna sic my one-handed English friend Sam on you!

Amanda Berne

Other Resources & Further Reading
Samanda Dinner One
2006 | Experimenting for England - English Dessert Recipes - What's For Pud Roundup
2005 | Teaching Tim 2 - Tips on making Chicken Tikka Masala

© 2007 Sam Breach at "Becks & Posh", This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact[AT]gmail[DOT]com to report any suspected violations. Thank you.
A Modern English Dinner Party

Monday, April 23, 2007

English Cooking, English Produce, English Recipes, English Chefs

To Celebrate St George's Day, Over 65 entries from all over the world insist that English Food is Not A Joke Because...

picture photograph by shane gilman at
Fish & Chips 'Samanda'-style: Malt vinegar marinated local sardines, modern mushy peas and hand-cooked potato chips. Photographed by T.Shane Gilman

...there are so many other things we can pick on [the English] for: Food's not one of them!
Bacon Press in San Francisco declares "Rule Baltannia" and guides us through Balti Cuisine: "Originating in the 1970s, Balti cuisine is an Anglo-Asian culinary phenomenon relatively unknown in America and on the Indian Subcontinent. It's birthplace centers in what now is referred to as the Balti Triangle of Birmingham, England; a one-mile area comprising over 50 restaurants, or balti houses." Read more...

...[English] regional produce is seriously good
Ian from Yorkshire Deli
in Yorkshire, England shares his virtual Yorkshire Dinner Party Menu using only ingredients that can be sourced from the county of Yorkshire, and most from within just twenty miles or so of his front door. Anyone who thinks eating locally is only possible in Northern California will be deliciously surprised by this post.
Read more...'s interesting not insipid, brilliant not boring and yummy not yawnsome!
from Writing at the Kitchen Table based in Colchester, Essex is a woman after my own heart when she says "A well made, well flavoured Kedgeree made with undyed smoked haddock, heavily scented with a hot curry powder, enveloped with cream and parsley is a wonderful thing. I agree.

...I am fond of all British, including the food
from Küchenlatein of Kronshagen/Kiel Germany
tells us "I have good memories when I had a language stay as teenager in Bognor Regis. There I had, for the first time in my life, Baked beans on toast with sausages and fried egg."

...Irresistable Traditional English puddings.
who blogs at Kitchen Delights in the West Midlands, England, wants everyone to know about her Syrup Sponge and The Pudding Club: "In the Cotswolds way back in 1985 The Pudding Club was set up for pudding lovers and is still going strong today. The Club meets at The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton, Chipping Campden. The Club's philosophy is 'A little bit of what you fancy does you good'. Wonderful words of wisdom."

...the food is practical and timeless
of Eating Out Loud in San Jose, Ca, notes some language barriers between English and American: "In researching my entry for Fish & Quips, I was determined to make the funny-named, Spotted Dick, an English pudding creating giggles here in the US. However, I accidentally stumbled upon a food that I am all too familiar with -- the pasty, pronounced past-ee *not* paste-y (those are something entirely different and not food blog appropriate!)"

...I learned an English cup of tea can solve almost any problem
has a blog called Glorious Food and Wine in Brussels, where she declares "I love Colman's Mustard!" "...I helped myself to a generous serving of mustard at the above mentioned party. Little did I know the host was English, and well, the mustard too. Let's put it this way: no party food ever made such a long lasting impression. There was very little talking after that. But I fell in love."

...Any culture has its quirks - and some English food is truly great I am fond of Anne's Food in Sweden and she is fond of cucumber sandwiches. "When I think of English food, I think of Afternoon Tea. And there's certainly nothing funny about that. (Or is it?) I think it's a rather lovely tradition, and I much enjoy the ritual of it."

...when isn't life better after a hot cuppa?
On her blog, A Veggie Venture, Alanna in St Louis, Missouri makes English peas with fresh mint:"I've had plenty of good food in England, in pubs along the Inland Waterways, in restaurants and hotels in London, in country hotels further north, but especially in the home of my grandfather's cousin, our family's much loved Lyla, and her now-deceased husband Vic , who were married for a few days short of 62 years and were still giggling with stories about their wedding night the last time I saw them..." Read more...

...we have open minds, embrace new cultures/food as well as having our own great foods I was very excited to discover the Little Foodies blog written by Amanda in South East England who shows us a fascinating attitude to English food through the eyes of a five year old. Brilliant perspective! "Mummy - did we invent ice cream? 'No I don't think so - shame though or we'd have it in the bag darling and nobody would think English food is a joke!'" Read more...

...Marmite and Custard, but maybe not at the same time Looking at Englishman Andrew's entry over at Spittoon Extra, Nigel Slater's Delightful Trifle, makes me rightly proud of our cuisine. "Really though when attention is turned to great English food it is the pudding that eclipses all. My up-bringing is littered with memories of fabulous desserts - steamed treacle sponges, Queen of Puddings tied with a warning that the jam is 'really, really hot', gorgeous Blackberry and Apple pie with lashings of custard, Elderberry ices made from garden harvested fruit, clove scented Apple pies, strawberry tarts topped with whipped cream and rhubarb crumble." Read more...'s a serious matter and yet fun to discover more and more of them. I'm excited! Arfi from Homades in New Zealand makes Toffee Apple Cup Cakes and declares "I particularly love English afternoon tea. A batch of scones or ginger gems, still warm and fragrant which are served with butter, butter and jam or jam and clotted cream, how good is that? Now do you say that an afternoon tea ritual a joke? How those people who think it's a joke do their afternoon tea, I wonder."Read more...

...I don't find it funny My sister, Beccy, English but living in Ireland, had rather exotic plans for Fish & Quips which culminated in a simple but always delicious Ploughman's Lunch: "The authentic ploughman's lunch consisted of stale bread or a crusty loaf, and an English Cheddar or Stilton, and some variety of pickle. An apple would be included with the lunch to take away the spicy taste of the pickle and to provide a sweet finish, perhaps to be complemented by cider. Ideally, the apple would be of the same variety as that the cider was made from." Read more...

...when done right, it can actually make you forget about the weather Brandon who Eats in Virginia chooses to highlight a recipe using purple asparagus from Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers' The River Cafe Cookbook. "English food is not a joke. Most of the time it can even make you forget about the appalling English weather. Judging from all of the recipes I've been posting lately, from British cookbooks by Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers, I've developed a bad case of anglophilia this spring" Read more... class chefs like Fergus Henderson and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are not to be trifled with! Brett from In Praise of Sardines, a chef who will be opening his own restaurant in San Francisco later this summer, is better known of his love of Spanish cuisine. His entry about Trifle contains so many choice quotes, it's difficult to whittle it down to just one: "The docteurs du spin hatched a plan. 'From this day forward, on our side of the Channel we will call Trifle la Verrine. Heh heh heh. We will convince the world the the Verrine is our invention! With a sexy name like Verrine, no one will realize that she is simply English Trifle in a little black Chanel dress.'" Read more...

...Every nation has some dishes you prefer and you dislike. And it is the way you prepare the dishes that makes the difference Brigitte in Singapore makes fish and chips her way. "I don't know if there is an English proverb for this, in Germany I would say this was a kind of 'What the peasant doesn't know he won't eat'." Read more...

...puddings!!!!!!!!!!!! and custard! Bron Marshall in New Zealand goes all out with a mouthwatering feast of Roast Beef with “all the trimmings! and Plum Jam Roly-Poly Pudding. "Every other weekend without fail, he and his family would drive several hours from Dinas Powys near Cardiff in Wales to a small village near Colchester in Essex, to his Grandparents home where his Grandmother would have a Grand Roast and Yorkshire pudding waiting to be served when they arrived and it was all cooked on an old coal range no less, with no ‘recipe’. It’s not a surprise then he has fond memories and a bit of a soft spot for anything like his Grandma used to make, including a nice roast followed by a nice pudding with custard!" Read more...

...the Queen has been eating it her whole life, and she never laughs I bumped into my friend Catherine from Food Musings at the market where she was buying the ingredients for her Shepherd's Pie. Here is her version of the story. "We walked on towards the market and he appeared to be lost in thought. A few minutes later, he announced, 'I'm going to make Shepherd's Pie.' You could have swapped the spaghetti noodle for a saffron thread. Mr. FM does not cook much. He is great with coffee and toast, as well as a sandwich" Read more...

...Keith Richards eats it. Meanwhile over at Cerebellum Blues, Jeff, more commonly know as Mr Food Musings in food blogging circles, has an entirely oppsite view of how the Shepherd's Pie came to be. "I fed the pie to our fire breathing beast of a stove, while Ms Food Musings stood back and commented that her daiquiri had run dry. "In a moment," I shouted, over the roar of the gaseous fireball before me. Outside, the sun had begun to set over the treacherous waters bordering our bit of high ground, and as the pie attained a Img_3737 touch of golden brown in the maw of the beast, I ventured into the wine grotto to choose a bit of grog" Read more...

...because nobody does biscuits (cookies) better Clare of Rainy Days and Sundays in LA likes English biscuits so for this challenge she made a nice box of Shrewsbury biscuits to give as a bribe gift. "If you ever need to bribe me for any reason, just present me with a tube of chocolate-covered digestive biscuits and you can have whatever you want." Read more...

......beans on toast is comfort food of the simplest (and therefore highest) degree Californian Cookiecrumb is Mad and she Eats English food from time to time. Baked beans on toast.
"Anyway. I'm not English. I have no excuse and no excuses.
I don't even have any English food traditions. I will make a roast beef for Christmas, but Tiny Tim might cringe. I've done a few Yorkshire puddings that pleased me, but the Queen might disagree. I'm competent with shortbread, and I've stewed up oatmeal... Oh, wait. I do love Lyle's Golden Syrup. Ummm. What else. I drink tea?" Read more...

...Who can turn down a true afternoon tea? My inverse - a Californian transplanted to the UK - the Culinary Cowgirl celebrates the art of Afternoon Tea. "Some of my earliest foodie memories are of afternoon tea. As a little girl, I was told/read stories about life in England and it's colonies. At the time they were such far off places that sounded too beautiful or too exotic to be real. And in these stories, the people always enjoyed afternoon tea." Read more...

...the desserts alone! And English breakfast, AND everything that goes with a proper tea. Deinan from Helsinki in Finland blogs at the beautifully titled Cloudberry Quark where she can be found making Cottage Pie. "Not to mention trifles, and fools, and crumbles. (I've even tried to make my own clotted cream, with, erm, interesting results.) Oh, and custards. Homemade custard is so good... In fact, I think I've solved my what about Sunday's dessert problem, or rather, replaced it with its opposite: how to choose from all of those" Read more...

...that close to France who taught who? A Humble Housewife, in Ireland, celebrates with a Sticky Sausage, Bacon and Apple Bake and and one of my favourites, a Victoria Sandwich. "...a classic Victoria Sandwich probably the quintessential British cake. And it's named for Queen Victoria now... not posh spice... it's a really simple cake to make and the recipe is one you can never forget since all the measurements are the same! I made this yesterday and half of it was gone before dinner with the rest dying a quick death following dinner!" Read more... has evolved beyond the days when French Presidents could scoff and smirk Anna from Morsels and Musings in Sydney, Australia has made a chocolate bread butter pudding for this event. "Some of the best restaurants in the world reside in the UK, which says something about a well developed English palate. The mass influx of migrants from spice-rich regions means British folk have moved beyond “steak and three veg” and I think it’s about time we recognised and celebrated this fact."Read more...

...well, frankly, it's my food heritage and I'm proud of it
of Albion Cooks here in California is often to be found tinkering with vegetarian versions of classic recipes. This time she turns her attention to Cornish Pasties. "I was very fortunate to have a grandmother and a grandfather who were both excellent and thoughtful cooks. They cooked with fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients (often from their garden), had good relationships with the butcher, baker, and green grocer, and just plain really cared about feeding their family and friends well." Read more...

...It has had bad press in the past, but now we all see it for what it is, a truly great cuisine ... just different Dianne in Southsea, England, shares some of her favourite local food suppliers at A Gluten-free Journey.. "how about an A - Z of English food suppliers, and I promise there will not be a whiff of a supermarket anywhere near it. Just good reliable farm shops, the odd delicatessen, suppliers I have found at Farmers Markets and from other sources. All good .. all reliable, and some suprising!" Read more...

...English restaurateurs are making waves in America and overseas Doug from Blogsoop in New York City scooped an interview with Nicky Perry, owner of British Restaruant Tea & Sympathy who is campaigning for a Little Britain in NYC - please pop over and sign the petition. "Many Americans had their first taste of England in the years following World War II. At the time, food was in short supply. Even staples like sugar and eggs were hard to come by - I feel a lot of the negative opinions originated then." Read more...

...English Food has the best sweets...puddings, scones with jam, Victoria cake, trifle Elle in Northern California is Feeding Her Enthusiasms for Sticky Toffee Pudding. I can't argue with that. "It was Sticky Toffee Pudding, a sponge pudding that has a lot of dates in it, along with molasses and Golden Syrup. Well, the Golden Syrup in the recipe decided it. Golden Syrup is a golden pure cane syrup and is a British treasure." Read more...

...Scouse is a way of life... says Elsbeth of San Antonio Valley, CA on her Vineyard Diary. "Brit food has long had a reputation in the US for being bland and unimaginative, but that's simply not the case. English dishes, such as steak and kidney pudding, may seem a little quirky, but they're delicious, satisfying and full of flavor, and there's a fascinating story behind every regional dish." Read more...

...Because strawberries-and-cream is seriously good Emily of I Smell Food gives us the run down on Strawberries & Cream. "in just the way that hot dogs are sold at American sporting events—strawberries and thick Devonshire cream are sold for five shillings the dish from stalls on the Tea Lawn and in the Court Buffet.” How terribly classy! It’s the British equivalent of ballpark food and there’s nothing I don’t like about that. Let’s raise a cuppa (and keep those pinkies up) to strawberries-and-cream".Read more...

...British breakfast buns are best! Eva in Basel, Switzerland, blogging at The Golden Shrimp has a thing about English breakfast carbs and I can relate to that. In her post she actually makes crumpets. "Give me a crumpet, english muffin or potato scone for breakfast any day. They are lovely just toasted with some butter or if you feel like it with jam or more." Read more... prevailed against the curse of geography, survived the war and rationing and most importantly, today it has evolved by embracing other cuisines A Faustian Bargain has gone to town with many posts about English Food. "I came back with a genuine fondness for English food tinged with puzzlement over the inferiority complex that the British seem to nurture carefully about their food heritage. These posts are being reconstructed from thoughts noted down a while ago and the words themselves are grateful to the Brits who fed me GOOD FOOD with equal parts of pride and embarassment."Read more...'s comfort cookery at its best - roasts, cakes, scones, stews, and the all important cuppa Gemma at Dressing for Dinner in Scotland makes her very own, un-posh version of a cream tea. Makes me want to go and bake scones right now. "The scones were as good as only freshly made scones can be, the clotted cream was rich and yellow with that gorgeous crust on top, and the jam was superb. And to wash it down I made my perfect mug of builders' tea."Read more... may be similar to ours but it sounds so much classier with the accent! Glenna from Missouri seems to have had a lot fun making crumpets and sharing her experience on A Fridge Full of Food. "First off, I have to say that making these was a hoot. It was simply fun and so much easier than I imagined. I'd looked at making crumpets before but got psyched out when I read all about the special pans or rings to be used, yada yada yada" Read more...

...of two words..clotted cream Haalo from o stunning blog, Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, bakes an Apple Crumble. "You've got to love a nation that turns having a cup of tea into a fine art, a cuisine that's resplendent in lard and dripping and real butter and not to mention clotted cream. A cuisine that turns stale bread into heavenly bread and butter pudding or can turn simple cake and jelly into the Trifle of your dreams - this is a cuisine to be saluted." Read more...

...they've had 3,000 years to get it right Sean from Hedonia here in San Francisco makes Fish Cake but no mushy peas. "But once there, I discovered something altogether different. For one, we lucked into ten days of unbroken clear, sunny weather. For another, we ate like kings. 'Beautiful weather and delicious food,' I emailed friends and family back in the States, 'Why have we been lied to all these years?'" Read more... is food from the heart to comfort and soothe Hester in Genva is a Brit who like me sometimes has to battle Against French and American criticisms to defend her native cuisine. Today she has made a heavenly-looking Deconstructed Trifle. "Unlike the Italians and the French, who closely guard and protect their regional specialties, the English are very open to always try out new things and cuisines, which has also led to an over-hasty discarding of our own local traditions in terms of food, and a belief in our own bad press about our food. One of the great things happening in England at the moment is a resurgence in interest in local produce and traditional, artisanal methods. There is a move towards redisovering the heritage of local dishes, and this can only be a good thing!"Read more...

...Nigel Slater. He's the man - 'nuff said Jeanne in London writes for Cooksister where she made a lovely Rhubarb Crumble. "The recipe I used was Nigella Lawson's from Feast which was easy and worked well - my only complaint was that she reckoned this quantity serves ten - but to my mind that would be pushing your luck. Six seems far more reasonable - and I am vaguely embarrassed to say that four of us actually polished this off..." Read more...

...A cup of tea and a bun To go with her cup of tea, Joanne from Fork & Bottle in Santa Rosa has made a lovely batch of London Buns. Read more...

...British television chefs and food writers are showcasing English food more than ever Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie lives in Kent, but I wished she lived next door to me so I could go round for dinner on Toad in the Hole nights. I love Toad in the Hole. Mmmmmmm. Read more...

...We like the old dishes, yes we do, and now we are making them really well with good stuff June of Bread, Water, Oil and Salt in Somerset, England made the Queen of Puddings for her entry. "I found myself remembering with delight the wonderful school puddings that nobody eats any more. All the chocolate stodge and custard, the lemon steamed puddings, the rice puddings… And oh god the sago, let’s not go there, and the semolina and the tapioca, only made palatable by the jam." Read more...

...scones, steak & kidney pie, tea cake, kedgeree...excuse me I need to go cook Kazari, from I think I have a recipe for that, lives in Australia where she made some sticky Hot Cross Buns. "When we had a birthday afternoon tea at my aunt's house, there was always sticky bun. Sometimes iced, sometimes glazed, always with fruit" Read more...

...British people have become very demanding when buying ingredients or eating at restaurants Kevin in Worcestershire is a Wannabe TV Chef who made a lovely light version of Bakewell Tart using puff pastry. "British food and British Ingredients have gone through a complete metamorphous in the last 10-15 years. Great award winning restaurants have sprung up all over the country. The country is awash with farmers markets selling quality grown and produced ingredients to a very savvy British public. These markets are more than just a place to buy great food; they are vibrant social gatherings where foodies can swap information and ideas."Read more...

... the cooked breakfasts, cream teas and puddings can't be beat In Seattle, Kimberly of Music and Cats joyously recalls wonderful pub meals, picnics, teas and other food she has enjoyed in England. It is, however, the English Breakfast, that wins her heart. "And yet… when I consider the meal that has kept me on my feet, hiking English hills or wandering English museums or tripping on English sidewalks because I’m looking up at buildings yet again, I think of breakfast. The English cooked breakfast. The full breakfast. The fry-up." Read more...

...deep-fried candy is pure genius Krista at Project Me in New York stunned me by making a beautiful Stargazy Pie. "Then I stumbled upon stargazy pie, which totally sounded up my alley. The recipe I found in British Regional Food had no photo so I was trying to imagine if fish heads truly did stick out of the top of the crust. To me, that’s not creepy but adorable." Read more...

...the dishes that have survived are the ones that really work Louise who lives in West London and blogs at Using Spoons decided to make Bangers & Mash for her entry. "Choose really good quality pork sausages. I went for Lincolnshire sausages from Tesco on this occasion, but my favourite is Duchy Originals Pork and Herb. British sausages have a particular spice blend which is not always present in other countries, and can't really be replicated by an Italian sausage, for instance." Read more...

...I lived on it for 5 years of my life and survived, even thrived Maki from Swiss-based Just Hungry muses on rhubarb, stewed fruit and England with a recipe for Rhubarb berry trifle. "I first saw this curious plant called rhubarb during the time we lived for 5 years in Berkshire, England. I was 5 when we moved there. The rhubarb grew like a small jungle in a corner of the vegetable patch of the house we were renting, alongside some equally puzzling gooseberry bushes. Neither existed at all in Japan at the time, and my mother was at a loss as to what to do with them, until our next door neighbor lady told her how to stew them." Read more...

...nose to tail eating is serious business They are Married with Dinner, here in San Francisco and they are making Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad. "Here I found what I adore about English cuisine: naked love for animal fat, roasted flesh, organ meats, connective tissue, and wild things from the hunt. Pig tails, venison, game birds, sliced roast beef, Yorkshire pudding." Read more...

...Shakespeare would never have written all those plays on an empy stomach Only MizD and Chopper from Belly Timber could come up with a post like this one about Black Pudding. "Turns out our local Asian market sells pig’s blood by the pint, and when Chopper made this discovery, I knew we were left with only two choices: Black Pudding or a reenactment of the prom night sequence from Carrie. Since the latter would mean a Chopper impersonation of John Travolta, we opted for the Black Pudding." Read more...

...any culture that can invent afternoon tea has got something Sticking with the bard for a second, Mommy Cooks in Southern California has made some Jumbals. "A librarian friend of mine was once asked what might have been Shakespeare's favorite cookie. She decided to write to the Folger Library, that bastion here in America of all things Shakespearean, and she received in return a copy of a page from The English Hous-wife, containing the inward and outward Vertues which ought to be in a compleat Woman, dating from 1653, with this recipe" Read more...'s got some delicious, crunchy- sheperds pie-and-yorkshire puds-and-custard tarts in it. Myriam of Once Upon a Tart in Switzerland makes some cute looking Yorkshire Puddings. "I remember the concerned looks I got, when I told my boss I wanted to take a time-out from the radio and move to england for 2 months - to cook! why would I wanna go to england to cook? Why not italy or france? - at least that's where good food comes from. Why on earth would I wanna learn more about cooking in the land of fish and chips and baked beans? becaaaause - was my answer. And booked my flight." Read more...

...As Gordon Ramsey might say..."English food a joke, fuck off out of my kitchen." Neil, At My Table in Melbourne likeme, is fascinated with the idea of making Clotted Cream. "Wonderful, thick, rich, clotted cream, a by product of those old days when farmers would sterilise their unpasteurised milk slowly on the stove top in order to improve its keeping properties and discovered a layer of cream with a crust on top that was really flavourful, with a hint of caramel." Read more...

...nearly all of my favourite food writers are English. That can't be a coincidence Canadian Rebeca of Dinner in the Yellow House makes Toad in the Hole as she recalls journeying on a trip to England "It was a very cool train, with little compartments like they have on the Hogwarts Express, and a fancy dining car and everything. We had tea in the dining car, but we weren't hungry or wealthy enough for a full meal. That was a shame, because the smells coming from the other tables were quite tantalizing." Read more...

...English food is not a joke unless we're talking Marmite, though that's tragedy, not comedy The always adventurous Rob and Rachel of Hungry in Hogtown never do things by halves. This even is kno exception as they search for the perfect Fish & Chips. "I was unable to resist two items novel to me: Marmite, as English as a stiff upper lip; and frozen pizzas topped with baked beans, which Steve labeled "British fusion cuisine.""Read more...'s too practical to crack a smile TriniGourmet Sarina Nicole made some lovely oatcakes for her entry. "I ran several recipes by my friend, that I had located online, for his approval and finally settled on the one listed below. It was a huge hit with my mother and me. She loved it especially because it was sugar-free and healthy. I loved it cos it was flaky and crunchy." Read more...

...what Seriously Good is -- Pasties to come Seriously Good in Knoxville, USA has rather an addiction to Cornish Pasties. "I was addicted from my first bite and ate them frequently while I was in England. In fact, if I had pictures of my time in England you would probably have a shot of me at Buckingham Palace, pastie in hand; wandering up the lane at Windsor Palace, brushing pastie crumbs off my shirt; surveying Stonehenge, mouth full of pastie." Read more...

...for us local really is local! I've laughed to myself about the mileage boundary of eating locally (compared to the UK) here on Becks & Posh and Sophie in Oxfordshire is saying much the same thing, on her blog Mostly Eating. Oh, and she's also making some Boozy Damson and Venison Casserole at the same time. "One of the things I think we Brits/English do really well is this local eating and reducing food miles business. One of the advantages of living on such a small island is that when we try to eat local it really can mean local. Not for us a 100-mile radius like those Bay Area people I keep hearing about - no disrespect intended if any of you are reading :-) Nope, over here local is often very local indeed (100 miles is after all, a quarter of the length of England). From where I live at the edge of a reasonably large city (Oxford) I can get artisan cheeses, an impressive choice of organic veg, melt-in-the-mouth sustainably farmed lamb all within the 18 miles from my house." Read more...

...crisps/chips in flavors like roast beef and mustard and mature cheddar and burgundy! Stephanie from the Grub Report just returned from a trip to England and I can tell you, she is loving pretty much everything she eats there. That's my girl! "Not for the first time have I gazed through the cold panes of a chilly, wet world and longed to be embraced by a full English breakfast. What could be more comforting than got fried eggs, bangers, bacon, fried bread (FRIED BREAD!), grilled tomatoes, and mushrooms? I'm pretty sure it's what they serve in Heaven, where cholesterol and heart disease are no longer a worry." Read more...

...fantastic range of fresh produce, wild game, artisanal cheeses... The Old Foodie in Brisbane shares some history and a recipe for Hare Soup. "There is nothing ridiculous about oysters from Chester, cheese from Wensleydale, bacon from Bath (especially that from the cheeks or chaps of the local pig), apples from Somerset, and roast beef from just about anywhere. Sure, the names of some English puddings are good for a laugh – Spotted Dick comes to mind – but a laughing stock they are not." Read more...

...The home of scones...that's all I need to know Vanessa from What Geeks Eat in Wisconsin was in London only last month and today she shares a recipe for Cottage Pie. "I tasted a cheese called The Stinking Bishop…the name is appropriate and I think I showed good sense in not buying that particulary pungent fromage given the small size of our hotel room." Read more...

...Any cuisine that combines meat with ale gets gold stars in my book The adorable Yumsugar who I met for the first time last week makes a Steak & Ale Pie. "I lived there for almost a year and had plenty of amazing food (I have crazy fond memories of the cheese guy in my local outdoor market)." Read more...

...chefs like Jamie and Nigella can't be wrong says Zorra in Spain who chooses to cook one of Nigella's recipes for Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken Legs. "Do you want to know the truth? I never have eaten real English food on my trips to England." Read more...

...I can think of plenty of examples of delicious English goodies - many having to do with Maltesers and Afternoon Tea Alice Q - in San Diego is a girl after my own heart, making herself a nice Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Puds. "I prepared a variation of my favorite English meal - the traditional Sunday lunch of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding." Read more...

...Please don't laugh. Not at this stage. Bear with me Aidan Brooks, Trainee Chef in London shares news of the end of a culinary era. "Owners Heinz said: "HP sauce will continue to taste the same", but trade unions at the Birmingham factory responded by organising a mass protest and claiming The "swines" are taking away a great English icon that the company's decision "left a bad taste in their mouths"

...Toast is the best food in the world, let alone England Marmite Breath Slept Here says "Oh yes, one of my favourite toast combos is Marmite on Toast. I believe it cures hangovers. I believe it can make a bad day good. I believe it can make your husband not want to kiss you. But God, it's just soul-pleasingly good." Read more...

...I am keen... to promote English Cuisine My mum, Chris, blogging at Ms Cellania wouldn't officially enter my event, but I saw she did a lovely St George's Day post including homemade Fish & Chips so I have added her in anyway. "I have not cooked my own fish and chips for many years and I had forgotten just how nice it is to have homemade chips and fresh cod; for Embee mushy peas are a must." Read more...

...From clotted cream to crumpets and crumble, English food makes the best tummies rumble Last but not least, here at Becks & Posh I also made a traditional Sunday roast, with lamb, mint sauce and roast potatoes followed by pear crumble."The best roast potatoes I have ever eaten, have been made by English women. My mum's spuds can't be beat and my English friend Penny, here in San Francisco, is a dab hand with the roast tater too. The Americans and French do great potatoes, but they don't do great Sunday Roast potatoes." Read more... And check out the 'Samanda' Modern 9 Course English Dinner Party too.

picture photograph how to make recipe for traditional english sunday roast 2007 copyright of sam breach

Brilliant! Thanks to everyone who bravely embraced the new-fangled google databse and helped in the creation of this mega-post for my Fish & Quips event.. I am pretty certain that anyone who reads through all these entries will be left with a positive impression that there are more than a few good things to celebrate about English food.

And just to give you plenty of warning, I'll be back on St George's Day next year with an event called "Bangers & Sass" where entrants will engage in describing English food with as much British cheekiness as they can muster. It'll be saucy, it'll be fun and I'm giving you a whole year to prepare so no excuses next time!

2006 | An English Tea Party for St George's Day with live Flickr Photo Set.

© 2007 Sam Breach at "Becks & Posh", This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact[AT]gmail[DOT]com to report any suspected violations. Thank you. Note: This particular post contains a lot of photographs that belong to other people who have given me permission to duplicate them here for this post only. Please check with each individual photographer for their own copyright terms.
English Cooking, English Produce, English Recipes, English Chefs