Keeping Historical Romance Fresh

Sasha Cottman

White Christmas Recipe

December 3, 2017

With Christmas fast approaching, now is the time to get cracking on your Christmas baking. The great thing about White Christmas slice is that you don’t have to bake. This version of the recipe does not include copha, rather you use white chocolate melts. It makes a lovely and thoughtful Christmas gift to share with friends.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

White Christmas Slice
Ingredients
  • 500g white chocolate melts
  • 1 1/2 cups rice bubbles/rice krispies
  • 100g red glace cherries halved
  • 160g almonds, roasted, halved
  • 160g sultanas
  • 1 cup (90g) desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method

Line a 30cm x 20cm (base) baking pan with baking paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, pressing down with a large metal spoon.

Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

Once set, turn the slice onto a chopping board. Using a knife that has been dipped in hot water, cut into squares. Serve.

This makes a really nice Christmas gift for friends if you put the squares into Christmas cellophane and wrap it with a ribbon.

 

Christmas Drinks – Eggnog

November 17, 2015

This is a drink which dates back to the Middle Ages. It crossed the Atlantic with the early settlers from England.

The original eggnog recipe included brandy, but during the American Revolution, the enterprising colonists substituted rum. Modern variations of eggnog also include non- alcoholic versions and even custard (great over Christmas pudding).

Ingredients.

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated (fine) sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup dark rum

Method.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar together until mixture is slightly foamy.
Mix the milk and cream in a pot and bring to a simmer.

Take it off the heat and mix half of it into the egg and sugar mixture.
Whisk in the rest of the milk and cream mixture and transfer the whole mixture back into the pot and put back on the heat.
Stir and heat until the mixture thickens, but do not let it come to the boil.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the bourbon, rum, and nutmeg.
Serve warm with extra nutmeg on top for garnish.

Delicious Pumpkin Pie -Easy to make

October 8, 2015

Pumpkin Pie

This recipe dates back to 1765, but was still very popular in the Regency period. Susannah Carter published it in her book The Frugal Housewife. It was later published in the United States in 1772 and reprinted in England in 1803. I have adapted parts of it for the modern kitchen. It makes a delicious dessert.

Ingredients.

2 cups of cooked and mashed pumpkin

2 cups of milk

½ cup of Malaga wine (I actually opened a bottle of reserve Muscat, but don’t tell my husband).

7 eggs

1 cup of softened butter

1 tbsp. ground nutmeg,

½ tsp salt (I didn’t bother with this but it’s up to you)

1 cup sugar

You can make your own pie pastry, but these days you can simply buy the shells in the supermarket.

2 X 9” single crust pie shells. (Make sure to get the sweet ones not the savoury).

Method.

You can roast the pumpkin, but after having burnt some the first time, I cut the peeled pumpkin and simply boiled it. Drain the pumpkin and mash it.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and pour into the prepared pastry shells. (Do this carefully as you may have some mix left over and don’t want to overfill the shell).

Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Garnish with pecans and whipped cream.

British India Chicken Curry

September 10, 2015

The spectre of her desire to return to India still loomed over him. She had to want to stay with him in England – Letter from a Rake
British India Chicken Curry

Now this is a very mild Indian curry, which would suggest that the early British settlers in India didn’t take to the spicy food that well. The feedback from my family the first time I cooked this recipe was that it bordered on bland. The next time I cooked I added curry powder which seemed to do the trick.

 

2 kilos of chicken pieces. (I used skinless chicken legs)

2 onions

1 lemon

2 tbsp butter

1tsp turmeric (if you want some spice then add 1 ½ tsp of curry powder).

100 ml of thickened cream

2tsp ginger power or dried ginger

I added 2 sliced carrots to add some vegetables.

Method: Put the chicken pieces in a large pot and cover with 1 litre of water. Bring to boil, before simmering for 5 minutes. Strain off the liquid (keep about 400ml) then set the chicken pieces aside.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes, then add the chicken pieces.

Sprinkle the turmeric and ginger over the top and mix in well. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the 400ml of chicken stock, cover and cook at a simmer for 30 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream and lemon juice. Bring the mix back to a simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve with rice. (I used basmati rice which is great with curries).

 

Macarons- Sweetness from Heaven

August 20, 2015

‘This is Paris, you need to stuff your face with macarons until you cannot breathe.’

The Duke’s Daughter

Macarons. Those sweet, mouth-watering confections are France’s gift to the world.

Macarons are often mentioned as having been first invented in the eighteenth century, but they actually date back to the fifteen century, arriving in France from Italy. Catherine de Medici is rumoured to have brought Italian cooks with her when she married Henry II of France.

It was however, only in the mid nineteenth century that the tradition of putting sweet filling in between two almond macarons was first established, and this was most definitely something which belongs to France.

The flavour of fillings in the modern macaron spans the spectrum from the traditional chocolate, though salted caramel and onto the elegant delicacy of green tea. In the recipe below we make chocolate filling, but you can use any seasonal fruit to make the jam or even cream.

How to make French Macarons

Ingredients

4 large egg whites

1/3 cup of caster sugar

1 ½ cups of icing sugar

1 cup almond meal

Pinch of salt

Chocolate filling (you can use jam, cream or any other sweet filling).

Method.

Heat the oven to 150C.

Mix caster sugar and egg whites with an electric beater until stiff.

Sift the icing sugar and almond meal. Add the pinch of salt.

Fold this dry mixture into the egg and caster sugar mix with a spatula until it is smooth. Take care not to over mix this, you don’t want it to be over runny.

Using piping bag, pipe the mix onto non- stick paper lined baking trays. Before putting the trays into the oven, give them a tap on the bench to prevent your macarons from cracking.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

To fill your macarons (you can eat them without filling but I love the sweet taste in the middle of them).

100g chocolate and 30g cream.

Bring the cream to the boil and pour it over the chocolate, wait a minute before stirring the ingredients together. Allow the mixture to cool before piping onto the macarons.

Enjoy!

Easy Baked Spiced Pears

March 29, 2015

For most people during the Regency/Georgian period fancy desserts were not usual. Simple dishes such as baked fruit pies or spiced fruit were more the norm.
This is a lovely recipe which is easy to make and gives you a terrific toffee finish. Serve the pears with cream or ice cream if you like.
Picture
Ingredients

1 ripe pear per person.
2 tbs of brown sugar
sprinkling of cinnamon sugar
sprinkling of nutmeg
1 tbs butter

Method

Cut the pears in half and core them. Lay the pears down on their cut side and then score across the back with a knife (don’t cut all the way through).
Heat your oven to 180C/375F.

Dob the butter on the scored side of the pears. Mix the nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the pears.
Put the pears flat side down in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Easy.

Wild Boar and Mushroom Pie

November 11, 2014

Having seen the recent episode of Outlander where the boar hunt goes horribly wrong, I decided not to go boar hunting and so this is really a mushroom pie (without wild boar). You could of course put in any meat, including chicken or beef.
This recipe comes from Rules restaurant in London which is the oldest restaurant in the English capital, having been open since the late 18th century. They do serve wild boar and musroom pie if you fancy to make a booking and try this delicacy. In the tradition of Outlander, wash it down with a large dram of whisky.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 250g thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 100g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C/375F.
2. Heat olive oil in a frypan, add onion and mushrooms. Sauté until well browned. Add the carrot and vegetable stock and stir.
3. Simmer 8-10 minutes until carrots are just tender.
4. Stir in soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle frying pan with the flour and stir it in. Simmer and stir until sauce is thickened which will take a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in thyme.
5. Pour contents of the frypan into pie plate and top with pastry sheet.
6. Brush pastry with lightly beaten egg and water mixture.
7. Bake 40 mins or until pastry is golden brown.

18th Century Lemon Cheesecake

October 20, 2014

This lemon cheesecake recipe dates all the way back to Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, published in 1747.

Ingredients

2 lemons

12 eggs (12 egg yolks and 6 egg whites will be used in the custard part of the recipe)

225 g brown caster sugar (I used raw caster sugar instead).

6 tablespoons of cream (save a little for serving with the lemon cheese cake).

225g butter

Shortcrust pastry sheets (or, you can make it, see below).

Method

Preheat the oven to 190C/374F.

Grate the lemon zest. Put the zest and the juice of 1 lemon into a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix with a wooden spoon.

Beat the egg yolks and add them to the mix.

Beat the egg whites until they are frothy. This must have been a hard task in the 18th century when it would have to have been done by hand! Fortunately I could reach for my trusty electric beater. Add the frothy egg whites to the rest of the cheesecake mix.

Combine the butter and cream and over a low heat, until the butter is melted. Add the butter and cream to the rest of the cake mix and beat it for a minute.

Pour combined mixtures into a medium sized saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. This takes about 8 minutes on my stovetop.

Place the pastry sheet over a flan pan (or pie dish), making sure the pastry covers the sides of the pan (there is quite a lot of custard mix).

Take the mix off the heat and pour over the pastry base. You may have some left, so feel free to pour this into a bowl and eat it before anyone else notices.

Bake the lemon cheese cake for 30 mins or until the filling has set. In my oven it takes about 35 minutes. Cool and serve with cream.

Shortcrust pastry (if you want to make from scratch)

1 egg yolk

225 g chilled butter

1 1/3 cups of plain flour

Method

Process flour and butter in a food processor. Add the egg yolk and 2 tsps. of cold water.

Once mix is worked through, take it out of the bowl and knead it on a board. Roll into a ball and let rest in the fridge for 30 mins. Then roll out flat when preparing to use it in the pie.

Perfect Roast Potatoes

September 21, 2014

She cut a piece of roast potato in half and put it into her mouth. Cooked long in goose fat, it was delicious. She sat chewing, savouring the caramelised crust while listening to the buzzing conversation which continued unabated around her. Was there anything better than a well-cooked potato?

An Unsuitable Match.

Perfect Potatoes

Ingredients.

3-4 potatoes (depends on how many people you are feeding).

Duck or goose fat. I used duck fat from the supermarket dairy section.

Method

Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters.

Put the oven on to preheat to 180C/375F (fan forced if you have it).

Put the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and parboil for about 10 minutes. Take them out of the pot and drain them in a colander. When they are drained give them a couple of really good shakes so you break the surface of the potatoes. By doing this you get the fluffy pieces which will roast and crisp beautifully.

Toss the potatoes in the fat. I know it’s not exactly the thing for your waistline, but roasted potatoes are a Georgian/Regency period speciality.

Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy on the edges. I do take them out a couple of times and toss them about in the oil with a wooden spoon just to make sure they are coated in the fat.

Take out the oven and enjoy with a nice piece of roast beef and some steamed vegetables.

Bread & Butter Pudding

September 6, 2014

This recipe dates from John Nott first published in 1723.

Ingredients.
20 slices of bread. Stale bread is good.
50g each of currants, raisins and chopped dates. (or cheat like I did and use fruit loaf)
1 litre of single cream.
130g sugar
Butter (or margarine)
1 tbs Brown sugar
6 egg yolks
Mace & Nutmeg & Salt

Method.
In a heavy based saucepan (I used a normal one) simmer the cream for 4 mins. Make sure it does not boil. Whisk in a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon each of mace and nutmeg. After this simmer the mix for another 4 mins, then take it off the heat and allow to cool. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. When the cream mix is cool slowly add it to the mix. Make sure the cream mix is cool otherwise you will scramble the eggs.

Butter the bread on both sides and using a wooden spoon (or your clean fingers) push 1/3 of the bread down into an oven proof dish. Poor 1/3 of the egg and cream mix over the bread. Repeat until all the mix is in the bowl. Then sprinkle brown sugar over the top and add a nob or two of butter. Pop the baking dish in the oven for an hour.

Technically speaking you should take it out the oven, wait for another 30 minutes and then be able to turn this over and pop it out like a cake. If your family is anything like mine, as soon as it comes out of the oven they will be standing with bowls and spoons at the ready. Be careful as the bread and butter pudding will be hot. Enjoy!