cuisine-great-britain

Cuisine of Great Britain

“British food culture has changed markedly since the 1960s, as interest in dishes and ingredients from all over the world and a vibrant restaurant scene displaced an earlier reputation for plain, bland, poor-quality food. The traditional diet is based on bread, potatoes, dairy produce, and meat. Regional ideas related to food survive but are nuanced and sometimes difficult to detect. ” Diverse variety is a stamp that encompasses what is contemporary British food. Multiculturalism and influence from all over the wold largely shape selection of produce and cooking techniques. “The growth of vegetarianism, foreign travel, and the work of chefs and writers inspired by other cultures have influenced choices, as have changes in retailing and an intense media interest in food. “

There is an old history of reliance on wheat (for many types of bread), potatoes and meat (mostly beef ), vegetables playing a side role as is often seen in European cuisine. However, these attitudes have been changing since 1970s, though traditional foodstuffs are still important. Besides wheat oats are commonly eaten for breakfast as porridge. Pulses are used in soups and in ethnic dishes such as Indian dhal or Middle Eastern hummus but most popular are baked beans on toast as a part of traditional English breakfast.

For centuries everybody who could afford eating meat indulged in it, but the importance of meat in the diet skyrocketed 20th century thanks to nutritional theories . Likewise diary has been equally important. Vegetables on the other hand received little attention in traditional British cookery but beside potatoes, plants from cabbage family as well as peas and asparagus were and still are quite adored. In regards to fruit apples are probably the most British fruit, used in pies and tarts, but pears and different kind of berries, especially strawberry follow closely along. Pink rhubarb is considered a delicacy and is available only in late winter and early spring .

Spices, though somewhat absent in traditional British cooking except for sweet spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in baking, are today widely used. An influence from colonial times can be seen in this regard: Indian and Thai cookery have significantly influenced the way British perceive food today, what can be seen from many varieties of curry powders and non the less in something often thought as remarkably British: Worcestershire sauce, which contains many spices, such as cumin, asafoetida, etc.

Cooking itself is not often practiced during the week because of extremely busy lifestyle and readymade food is a popular choice. During weekends, however, many British indulge in cooking often following recipes obtained by “television chefs, magazines or promotional leaflets as from previous generations. ”

Garden pie

  • For mash topping:
  • 4 large potatoes peeled and diced
  • 100g butter or 50g refined coconut oil and 50g extra virgin olive oil
  • Few tbsp warm milk or soy milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • ¼ cauliflower diced
  • 2 tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • For the filling:
  • 1 tbsp butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion minced or 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 celery stalks minced
  • 200g of green peas (frozen and defrosted works well, avoid canned)
  • 4 medium sized carrots diced
  • 1 rutabaga diced
  • 2 parsnips diced
  • 2 celery stalks minced
  • 200g cooked lentils drained
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper

First cook the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Then when still mash (preferably with potato ricer) and if desired pass through sieve for silky texture. Add the fat and warm milk stirring constantly with a whisk. Season to taste and set aside. Next prepare the sauce for the pie by cooking the cauliflower with half of the butter or olive oil and 2 dcl of water until soft. Blend in a blender with remaining fat and adjust the seasoning. If necessary add some more water to thin the sauce, which should be moderately thick. Grate a pinch of nutmeg. For the filling sauté finely chopped onion and celery on a tbsp of butter or olive oil with fresh thyme until translucent. If using asafoetida fry just for a few seconds then add carrots, rutabaga and parsnips. Cook with a few tablespoons of water covered until al dente then add the peas and cook for just 2 minutes. Add the lentils and adjust the seasoning. Mix the vegetables together with the cauliflower sauce and put into a casserole dish. Top with mash potatoes and score with a fork or decorate with a palette knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 °C for 30 minutes or until golden.

Pav baji Mixed vegetable curry with bread

  • 4 large potatoes cooked and mashed
    (can substitute half of the potatoes with carrots and cauliflower)
  • 300g green peas (frozen and defrosted works well, avoid canned)
  • 4 large fresh tomatoes chopped or 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ghee and 3 tbsp butter or 4 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • 1 red onion sliced or ¼ red cabbage head minced and 1 heaped tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or paprika powder
  • 1 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (jaggery) or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp store bought pav bhaji masala powder (available at Indian grocery stores and large supermarkets)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped
  • Soft bread buns or dinner rolls

Heat 1 tbsp of ghee or refined coconut oil in a large pan. Add cumin seeds and fry until aromatic for approx. 20 seconds. Add onion or red cabbage and sauté with a pinch of salt until translucent. If using asafoetida add now along with turmeric and red chili powder or paprika powder and fry just for a few seconds then adding tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes and add green peas, potato or mixed vegetable mash, mango powder, sugar and pav bhaji masala. Sauté on medium heat for at least 10 minutes. Mash with potato masher, add the remaining butter or coconut oil, lemon juice and fresh coriander. Season and serve with soft bread buns or dinner rolls.

Bubble and Squeak

  • 1 small onion (100g) or white cabbage (+ 1 tsp asafoetida) finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 500g leftover mashed potatoes or 4 large potatoes cooked and mashed
  • Any leftover steamed or roasted vegetables like brussels sprouts, carrots,
    swede, cabbage, etc. or 300g fresh vegetables finely chopped.
  • Flour for dusting
  • Butter or olive oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper

Sauté onion or cabbage and asafoetida with a tbsp of butter or oil and a pinch of salt until translucent. If using fresh vegetables add them at this stage and cook until soft. Mix them together with the mashed potatoes and season to taste. Wet your hands to form patties and coat them in flour. Shallow fry on medium heat until golden brown on each side.

Pea and mint soup

mint-pea-soup

  • 700g fresh green peas (frozen are also fine, defrosted)
  • 1 shallot finely chopped or 1 tsp of asafoetida
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil or butter
  • 1 small new potato peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 liter of vegetable stock
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cottage cheese for garnish (optional)
  • Olive oil for garnish

Sauté the shallot with fat until translucent or asafoetida just for a few seconds adding the peas and new potato. Optionally you can reserve half of the peas, blanch them separately, cool in cold water and add them at the end. Pour over vegetable stock, add half of the mint leaves, season and cook until the peas and the potato are tender. Blend in a blender adding the rest of the mint and pass through a fine sieve. At this stage you can add fresh peas and cook until they are heated through. Serve hot or cold with a tsp of cottage cheese topped with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble with coconut

  • For the topping:
  • 300g all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 100g dried shredded coconut
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • 150g softened unsalted butter or melted refined coconut oil (can use unrefined coconut oil for a more pronounced coconut flavour)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Seeds of ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 or 2 tbsp of water
  • For the filling:
  • 700g fresh strawberries halved
  • 300g rhubarb stalks peeled and diced
  • Seeds of 1 and ½ vanilla pod
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Vanilla custard (optional)

For the topping combine all the dry ingredients and then mix with fat until it resembles bread crumbs. Add one or two table spoons of water so you get a bit bigger crumbs, but the dough should not get sticky. For the filling mix all the ingredients together and transfer into a deep baking tray. Sprinkle with topping mixture so it is completely covered. Bake in a preheated oven on 180 °C for 20 minutes or until golden brown. You can serve it with vanilla custard.