Helping you to cook like it's 1829.

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Dine Like a Servant goes to France

Dine Like a Servant goes to France

Bonsoir!  The idea of Dine Like a Servant is to raise funds for restoration of The Regency Town House and to give people a good time. The dishes are historic, adapted where necessary for modern palates, and use original techniques where possible.  Recipes from the […]

The history of Hot Cross Buns (and a sourdough recipe)

The history of Hot Cross Buns (and a sourdough recipe)

Are you interested in the history behind Hot Cross Buns? Do you want to learn more about where they come from and get the ultimate Hot Cross Bun recipe? In this blog post I give a quick history of the Hot Cross bun and give […]

Shrove Tuesday – 3 unusual things to add to a pancake.

Shrove Tuesday – 3 unusual things to add to a pancake.

You want to do something different for Pancake Day but don’t know what?  I’ve been searching through my cookery books and I’ve discovered some unusual historical pancake recipes. Ginger, sour cream or even snow.

Pancakes with Powdered Ginger


These pancakes, which have added ginger powder, make a hearty feast. Ideal, according to Jane Grigson, for “the labourer’s family at harvest…when everyone was needed in the fields…they were easy to carry, like a Cornish pasty.” The recipe is take from Jane Grigson’s book English Food and is from the eighteenth century.

Harvest Pancakes for the Poor

Measurements in the recipe are presented original – modern (follow the modern).

1 pottle wheat flour – 150g flour,

2 quarts new milk or mild ale – 300ml milk or mild ale

4 eggs – 1 egg

Powdered ginger to taste – ½ teaspoon powdered ginger

Lard for frying – Lard or oil to grease the pan

Mix flour to a batter with milk or ale and the egg. Flavour with ginger, and fry in lard in a heavy pan, a ladleful at a time. Try out a small pancake first to see if the consistency is right, add more liquid if it is too thick. Chopped apple was sometimes added to enliven the pancake.

What’s a pottle?

A pottle was a measurement of bulk, equivalent to half a gallon, (2 1/2 litres, 4 pints). As far as flour was concerned it meant just over a kilo (2 1/2 1b) in weight. The word pottle was also used for small, conical chip baskets of strawberries or mushrooms.

woman with pottle or basket
Woman with a pottle

Sour cream and bicarb. from Wales

These Welsh light cakes or Pancakes also come from Jane Grigson’s book on English food.

6 rounded tablespoons of flour

2 rounded tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons soured cream

A pinch of salt,

3 eggs,

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 rounded tablespoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons of water

About 150ml buttermilk or milk.

Beat together the first 5 ingredients. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar with the water – it will froth up rapidly – and add it to the batter. Dilute to a bubbly, not too thick consistency with the buttermilk or milk, adding it gradually. Cook the batter in small round cakes – they will spread a little, and the surface should rapidly become netted with holes. If the mixture seems to thick, add some of the buttermilk or milk.

Apart from a preliminary greasing with butter paper, you will not need to do more than brush the pan occasionally with a little oil or melted butter.

To turn the pancakes, ease the delicate, lacy edge from the pan with a thin, pointed knife, before pushing in the slice.

The Welsh way of eating these deliciously light pancakes is to spread them with Welsh butter and pile them up, one on the other. The butter melts in the heat and falls through the holes, so that the whole thing is rich and succulent, as well as light. To serve, cut the pile of pancakes in quarters.

Make a snow pancake.

snowy steps

From The Cookery of England by Elizabeth Ayrton.

When snow was lying, a large piece, about 3 x 4 x 3 inches (7 x 10 x 7 cm) was brought in just as the pancakes were to be cooked, and quickly stirred into the batter. As the batter cooked, the snow began to melt, leaving holes which made the pancake light and delicious. This does work, and naturally gives great pleasure to helping children. One or two early recipes says that if snow is used fewer eggs are required.

Christmas Pudding Workshops

Christmas Pudding Workshops

Are you fascinated by historical food? Would you like to recreate the Christmas flavours of the past?  Come and join a Christmas cooking workshop in a unique historic Regency kitchen in Hove. Down in the basement we will work with historic recipes recreating the tastes […]

How to make Pumpkin Pie

How to make Pumpkin Pie

Amelia Simmons’s book American Cookery appeared in 1796 and it sought “the improvement of the rising generations of females in America”. Almost nothing is known about the author herself except, mentioned by herself in the cookbook, that she was brought up as an orphan. I […]

How to make Lemon Mince Pies

How to make Lemon Mince Pies

Have you ever wanted to cook from an old recipe book? Just to find out what something from the past could taste like?

I’m lucky enough to be able to use a beautiful, handwritten cookbook that was donated to The Regency Town House. On page 99 this recipe for Lemon Mince Pies appears. It is coming up to Christmas. I had to find out how mincemeat from the 1830s was different.

Here’s the recipe as it appears at the top of the page in the photo above:

A pound of currants, a pound of suet and three lemons, squeeze out the juice, then boil the lemons in water and change the water to take off the bitterness, when they are boiled quite tender rub them through a sieve, then mix juice and all together with near three quarters of a pound of sugar, when you make your pies put in orange and citron and a few almonds.

I have simply changed the quantities to grams so I could measure easily. I followed the method exactly. The old Regency kitchen where I tested the recipe was being used for a writing workshop. I prepared the mincemeat in the old scullery.

I made the recipe below: 564 grams or 1lb currants 564 grams 1lb suet 3 lemons 423 grams 3/4 1lb sugar Orange and citron A few almonds

The ghost story writing workshop was taking place as I heated the mincemeat up, slowly in the oven. The basement scullery smelled deliciously of Christmas. As I filled the sterilized jars I could hear the stories being read out. Tales of paralyzed fear, blood on shoes and door slamming shut filled the kitchen as I screwed on the lids to the full jars.

The lids popped beautifully after I had displayed them on our dresser as if on cue, when pauses came in the stories. I wasn’t happy with the look of the mincemeat. They did look beautifully old-fashioned but would people buy these jars, thick with the white of the suet? Would you?

They looked so different to the mincemeat we are used to today. I did sell two jars but it might be too risky.

I will set out to try a different recipe and this time I will turn to my battered 1970s copy of Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families first published in 1845. Next to be tried is Superlative Mincemeat. Wish me luck.

How to make a traditional Christmas Pudding in a Pudding Cloth

How to make a traditional Christmas Pudding in a Pudding Cloth

The damp fug of a pudding gently boiling in a old kitchen. The rattling of the saucer I put in to let me know all is still good. The air getting colder. To me these are all signs of Christmas coming up and although it […]

Chocolate Tart – Hannah Glasse’s way.

Chocolate Tart – Hannah Glasse’s way.

This was the first ever historical recipe that I tried. It was a cold February in 2017. I was at home in my kitchen doing food experiments. It was raining outside. I remember the anticipation. I remember being very excited about trying out an old […]

How to make Piccalilli – Regency Style!

How to make Piccalilli – Regency Style!

One of the earliest pickles to become popular in England was piccalilli. 

A recipe of 1694 states: ‘To pickle lila, an Indian Pickle’ describes a vinegar and brine sauce which was flavoured with ginger, garlic, pepper, turmeric and mustard seeds. In the sauce was cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables.

The recipe is the rather wonderful 1830s recipe book that the Town House holds is similar.

The recipe ‘to make Picca Lilla’ calls for race (or root) ginger, garlic, and a similar mix of spices with the addition of long pepper and allspice.

The Town House’s cookbook also suggests the addition of fruit. “As they grow take French beans, cucumbers, onions, apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, or nectarines”.

The recipe below is something that would have been made in the Town House in the 1830s.  Pickling was done in the kitchen and often stored in the cool and dark cupboards in the housekeeper’s room under lock and key.

I have added cornflour and sugar. This gives both the consistency and the sweetness that we are used to in 2018.

I have, however, included spices that are not so familiar. Allspice and long pepper give the Picca Lilla it’s Indian like flavourings.

If you’d like to join me in the kitchen at The Regency Town House and make Piccalilli and Pickled Peaches in a workshop in September 2018, the link is here. 

The day before:

  • 150g fine sea salt
  • 1,5 litres water
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 2 cucumbers or 2 large courgettes
  • 450g shallots
  • 225g plums, peaches or apples (depending upon what is in season)

Make a Brine

Dissolve the salt in 500ml boiling water. Then dilute it with 1 litre of cold water. You now have 1500ml of brine. Let this cool.

Prepare the veg

Cut cucumbers in half and deseed them and cut into the same sized pieces as everything else. The courgettes simply needs dicing. 

Separate the cauliflower florets, peel the shallots and then quarter or halve them (depending on size). All the vegetables should be cut to the same size as the cauliflower florets.

Cut plums, peaches or apples to the same size as the other veg. I like to leave the skins on for extra crunch but do peel them if you feel the urge. A quick way to peel peaches is in my recipe for Pickled Peaches

Place all the prepared veg into the cooled brine, cover and leave for 12-18 hours.

The salt in the brine will draw out the moisture from the vegetables. This is important as to not dilute the vinegar and prevent it from pickling the vegetables properly.

The old  Town House cookbook recipe, rather wonderfully, calls for a three day long process of salting and then a three day long process of drying outside in a clothes basket. You can see me doing this in the video above. By using the brining method we only have to wait one day. Luckily.

The next day:

Drain the veg of the brine and then wash thoroughly in cold water.

Drain the vegetables in a salad spinner or alternatively lay out some freshly ironed clean teacloths and drain your vegetables on them for 20 minutes.

Put clean jam jars and their lids, enough to hold 1,8 kg of Piccalilli, onto a baking sheet. Put them into a prewarmed oven 100 c, 200 F or Gas 2 for 20 minutes.

Make the sauce

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you love it or not)
  • 30g fresh root ginger
  • 750ml of white wine vinegar (6% acidity)
  • 55g mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 30g of cornflour (not traditional but I prefer piccalilli to be gloopy, do leave it out if you want to be completely authentic)
  • 1 tsp of whole black pepper
  • 1 tsp of whole long pepper (see instructions above)
  • 1 tsp of whole allspice (or as it was called Jamaican pepper)
  • 225g white sugar

Peel the garlic and the ginger and blend together in a food processor or cut up finely and pound into a paste with a pestle and mortar.  (This prevents the garlic looking blue in the finished pickles, something which always surprised me but is perfectly normal. By using a paste of the garlic the blueness is avoided!)

In a small bowl mix the mustard powder, turmeric, cornflour and sugar together with 250ml of the white wine vinegar. You want to form a paste without lumps.

Put the paste into a large saucepan, big enough to take the veg and the vinegar. Add the rest of the vinegar.

Add the whole black pepper, long pepper and allspice berries.

Put the pan onto a hotplate on a low heat and simmer the sauce, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.  The idea is to cook the cornflour so it doesn’t taste of cornflour. At the end of cooking you should have a thick sauce.

Add the dried vegetables and fruit to the sauce. Stir well.

Cook over a gentle heat, stirring often. You want the vegetables and fruit to slightly soften. It will take about 10 minutes.

Take the baking tray with the jars out of the oven.

Spoon the piccalilli into the hot jars, pressing it down well. Make sure all the vegetables are covered by the sauce, not bits poking out. If necessary you can add a tiny bit of cold vinegar to achieve this.

Screw the lids on the jars and leave to cool. 

The Town House cookbook calls for bladder or even leather instead of a lid.

Leave a week before opening so that the flavours can develop. I like to leave mine for at least a month.

We store the jars in the Town House where they used to be stored, in the housekeeper’s room, in a cool, dark place.

If you’d like to try the Piccalilli but don’t want to make this recipe you can buy a jar. I sell pickles and homemade preserves to raise money for The Regency Town House. Just come along to one of the Town House’s events.

How to Pickle a Peach

How to Pickle a Peach

The Regency Town house was full of Italian artists when I made this recipe for the first time. It was a warm summer’s evening and the kitchen window was wide open. There was an Anglo-Italian exhibition launch in the drawing room two floors above. Although […]