Black Forest Gateau: National British Cherry Day

Monday was National British Cherry Day. Intended to support the declining orchards of what was once a staple national fruit (we now import 95% of cherries!) this is one national awareness day that gets our undivided support. The obvious choice for our weekly recipe is the bakewell tart, which we shared a couple of months back: a true cherry classic!

But we’re going with a real winner here, just as delicious and definitely more spectacular, is the Black Forest Gateau. Viewed as dated by some, it was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by Heston Blumenthal, one of our Food Heroes. If you have three days to spare (seriously!) and a fully equipped kitchen-cum-laboratory, then here’s the recipe and a clip of the great man in action:

But we’re going with a simpler version, much more appropriate for the home cook. As with all our recipes, if you make this, let us know how you got on and send in your pics. And if you have any recipe suggestions or interesting alternatives, please do share!

Black Forest Gateau

NB. Click here for unit conversion.

Ingredients
1x25cm good quality, rich chocolate sponge, cut into 3 discs
250ml double cream
50g caster sugar
250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

For the filling
Approx 500g good quality bottled or canned morello cherries, drained and juice reserved
50ml kirsch
400ml double cream

To serve
Chocolate shavings

Method

  • Bring the double cream to the boil then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until dissolved. Leave to cool – but not harden.
  • Whip the cream with the caster sugar to form soft peaks. Lay the three discs of sponge on to a large tray or three plates.
  • Mix the cherry juice with the kirsch and brush generously on to the discs of sponge. Put one disc on a flat cake tray or cake board then spread with half the cream and cover it with half the cherries then lay the second disc on top and repeat with the rest of the cream and cherries. Place the third disc on top and smooth any excess cream around the edges with a spatula.
  • While the chocolate mixture is of a workable consistency, spread smoothly on the tops and sides of the gateau with a spatula, then scatter over chocolate shavings.
  • Leave in a cool place to set, but not the fridge, as the chocolate may pick up a little condensation and it will ruin the presentation. Serve within a few hours.
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Easter, Hot Cross Buns & British Superstition

After our little brother A Salt & Battery’s easter offering, we felt we had to follow suit, but with something a little more traditional. A bigger deal in England than over here, like any good celebration, Easter is accompanied by its own repertoire of culinary delights. Top amongst them for many (certainly ourselves!) is the hot cross bun. Sweet, spiced, yeasty balls of dough, punched through with sultanas, marked with a cross and baked to sticky perfection; these yummy buns are delightful cut in half, toasted and buttered.

One of our HCBs!

For such small buns, they come with a great deal of superstition and mythology. It is traditionally said that the cross represents Jesus, and explains the association with Easter. Indeed, Elizabeth David – a queen of traditional British cookery – points to the fact that Queen Elizabeth I (with a capital ‘Q’) banned the baking of hot cross buns “except it be at burials, or on Friday before Easter, or at Christmas”. Most bizarre of all is the belief that hot cross buns are good omens; improving cooks’ skills, preventing fires and warding off rats and weevils. One family has kept a bun in a box since 1821!

A very old HCB!

We really look forward to freshly baking these little morsels from our traditional recipe. If you want to make them at home, we recommend fabulous food writer Felicity Cloake‘s recipe. It comes after meticulous consideration of various approaches – which you can read here. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! She says these are perfect – and we believe her!

Hot Cross Buns

And one of Felicity Clarke's HCBs!

Makes 16

200ml milk, plus a little more for glazing
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch of saffron
20g fresh yeast
50g golden caster sugar, plus extra to glaze
450g strong white flour
100g butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
3 eggs
150g currants
50g mixed peel
3 tbsp plain flour

  •  Heat 200ml milk gently in a pan along with the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and saffron until just boiling, and then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour. Bring back up to blood temperature and then mix the strained milk with the yeast and 1 tsp sugar.
  •  Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and grate over the butter. Rub in with your fingertips, or in a food mixer, until well mixed, and then add the rest of the sugar and the salt and ginger. Beat together 2 of the eggs.
  • Make a well in the middle, and add the beaten eggs and the yeast mixture. Stir in, adding enough milk to make a soft dough – it shouldn’t look at all dry or tough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then lightly grease another bowl, and put the dough into it. Cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size – this will probably take a couple of hours.
  • Tip it out on to a lightly greased work surface and knead for a minute or so, then flatten it out and scatter over the fruit and peel. Knead again to spread the fruit around evenly, then divide into 16 equal pieces and roll these into bun shapes. Put on lined baking trays and score a cross into the top of each, then cover and put in a warm place to prove until doubled in size.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C and beat together the last egg with a little milk. Mix the plain flour with a pinch of salt and enough cold water to make a stiff paste. Paint the top of each bun with egg wash, and then, using a piping bag or teaspoon, draw a thick cross on the top of each. Put into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until golden.
  • Meanwhile, mix 1 tbsp caster sugar with 1 tbsp boiling water. When the buns come out of the oven, brush them with this before transferring to a rack to cool. Eat with lots of butter.

Irish Stew: Something for the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend

It didn’t take us long to decide on this week’s recipe. There’s only one event marked on our calendar for the coming week – in bright green Sharpie. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of all things great from the Emerald Isle – and if anywhere knows how to get into the swings of things, it’s New York City!

FYI. A Salt & Battery are running a St. Paddy’s competition. All you have to do is let them know your favorite song by an Irish artist or band to be in with a chance of winning a portion of fish & chips and a Guinness!

Rachel Allen

A bonny Irish lass if ever there were one, Rachel Allen well deserves a place as a Tea & Sympathy food hero. Having learnt her craft at the prestigious Ballymalloe cookery school in County Cork, Rachel is a familiar face on British and Irish television, known for whipping up home-cooked favorites with style and skill. All helped along by her gorgeous accent!

For this St. Paddy’s edition of ‘Something For the Weekend’, it seemed only right that we chose her recipe for Irish Stew, courtesy of the BBC.

Irish Stew


Ingredients

1½kg/3lb 5oz stewing beef, cut into cubes
175g/6oz streaky bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
12 baby onions, peeled
18 button mushrooms, left whole
carrots, cut into quarters or 12 baby carrots, scrubbed and left whole
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp chopped parsley
10 cloves of garlic, crushed and grated
425ml/15fl oz red wine
425ml/15fl oz chicken or beef stock

For the roux
50g/2oz butter
50g/1¾oz flour

champ, to serve

Preparation method

  • Brown the beef and bacon in the olive oil in a hot casserole or heavy saucepan.
  • Remove the meat and toss in the onions, mushrooms and carrots, one ingredient at a time, seasoning each time.
  • Place these back in the casserole, along with the herbs and garlic.
  • Cover with red wine and stock and simmer for one hour or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.
  • To make the roux, in a separate pan melt the butter, add the flour and cook for two minutes.
  • When the stew is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables.
  • Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and add one tbsp of roux.
  • Whisk the mixture until the roux is broken up and the juices have thickened, allowing to boil.
  • Replace the meat and vegetables, and taste for seasoning.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with champ.

Cornish Pasties, St. Piran’s Day, Rick Stein & Padstow

Happy St. Piran’s Day, everyone! Today marks the national day of Cornwall! If you’re feeling a little rough around the edges after a weekend on the town, or out of town, we have just the thing for you from this most delightful of English counties. Cornish pasties are quintessential comfort food: a nourishing mixture of minced meat and vegetables encased in hot, buttery pastry. You can’t help but be filled with a new lease of life once you get one of these between ya chops.

Characterised by their distinctive ridged crust, Cornish pasties were the chosen lunch of miners, who would hold the pastry ridge with their dirty hands, and discard after eating.

This also allows us to introduce one of our Great British food heroes. Rick Stein is a seafood chef and familiar face on British television. Passionate and unpretentious, you can’t help but be reminded of a favorite uncle as you watch him put together the perfect fish supper.

Rick Stein with his loyal Jack Russell Chalky, who accompanied him on his travels. Sadly, Chalky passed away in 2007.

After traveling the world through his numerous TV shows, he set up shop in the quaint Cornish village of Padstow, where he had spent childhood holidays. This loyalty served him well, as he now owns a seafood restaurant, a fish and chip shop, a cookery school, a fishmongers, and a patisserie and the town has been dubbed “Padstein”! If you ever find yourself in Cornwall, it is well worth going out of your way to try one of his famous Cornish pasties.

The picture-perfect Padstow harbor

We found this great video of “Cornish Nan” demonstrating how to make an authentic Cornish pasty. We’ll publish our recipe for these delightful morsels on Thursday, but if you can’t wait until then, we’ll be more than happy to deliver you one for lunch, or dinner. The pastry and filling are all handmade, and the final product is utterly delicious – if we do say so ourselves! Find us on Seamless, or give us a call on 212-989-9735.

Happy Pancake Day (Fat Tuesday)!

Back in Blighty, Fat Tuesday is known as pancake day. Typically understated, it lives up to its name. Simple pancakes made from flour, eggs, milk and a little butter are served with sweet toppings. The most traditional of these is a squeeze of lemon and a dash of sugar. Nothing too sophisticated, but a gorgeous mouthful of sharp, sweet soft pancake.

A national celebration in Britain wouldn’t be complete without an antiquated – and totally bizarre – tradition, and pancake day does not disappoint. Across the country, communities partake in pancake races, completing a course while simultaneously flipping a pancake in a pan. If you don’t believe us, here is a video of the oldest pancake race, held annually in the village of Olney, Buckinghamshire since 1455:

And here’s a recipe for simple British pancakes from one of our all-time food heroes, and undisputed queen of British home cooking, Delia Smith. It is taken from BBC Food. Remember, the race is optional!

If you’re having pancakes at home today, please send us your pics!

Simple Pancakes

Ingredients

For the pancake mixture
To serve

Preparation method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs – any sort of whisk or even a fork will do – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
  2. Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.
  3. Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you’re using the correct amount of batter. I find 2 tbsp is about right for an 18cm/7in pan. It’s also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.
  4. Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.
  5. To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up. Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and extra sections of lemon.

Seeing in the New Year with an All-Time Food Hero: Jamie Oliver!

Well hello New York, are we recovered yet? While still feeling a little ropey our end, we were all out of bed and at work yesterday morning to loyally serve our customers the only real cure for the New Year blues: great British comfort food! We’re open tonight, as every night, until 10.30pm, so if you’re feeling the need for something to clear the cobwebs and warm the soul, nothing does the job quite like Shepherd’s Pie and Apple Crumble.

Shepherd's Pie: the best cure for the New Year's blues. Eat in, or order out; our fleet of British delivery boys are waiting to take your call on 212-989-9735!

While on the topic of Britain’s superb culinary record (our favorite topic), we’d like to share our best Christmas present with you. Jamie Oliver has had a more profound effect on the British dinner table than any other person in living memory. Best known this side of the pond for Jamie’s Food Revolution, he has had twenty cookery shows on British television, and fifteen cookery books, at least one of which will be present on the vast majority of British bookshelves.

A fresh-faced Jamie, at the very beginning of his prolific career. My, how he's grown!

We were ecstatic to pull a copy of Jamie’s Great Britain from our stocking this Christmas. As a celebration of modern British cookery, it is unrivalled, providing stunning renditions of all the classics, as well as paying due homage to immigrant influences which have dramatically broadened our culinary culture over the years (Keep Korma and Curry On!).

The recipes, artwork and food photography are all top-notch and we highly recommend it!

Guiness Lamb Shanks with Mashed Potato and Mint Salad. Heavenly!

First rate artwork, celebrating British food and colloquialisms in equal measures. How many do you recognise?

To whet your appetite, here’s a clip from the accompanying TV show of Jamie visiting a traditional British pub in Wakefield. Deep in Yorkshire, he shares a pint of ale with the locals and discusses the county’s most famous culinary export: Yorkshire pudding.

Beg, borrow, or steal to get your hands on this book. British cuisine is perfect to get you through the winter months. And if you don’t want to make it yourself, our doors are always open (well, until 10.30pm), and we’re more than happy to bring the food to you!

Here’s to a Happy New Year!

‘Tis the Season to Overindulge…

… and we’re here ease the guilt!

The long and illustrious history of the British Isles is peppered with the lives of great eccentrics. Indeed, eccentricity has become an indelible aspect of the British national identity. Being a restaurant and all, and what with it being the season to eat and eat and eat, we thought we’d share this tour-de-force of eccentric British appetites:

King George IV - "Pass the pigeon and steak pie, I'm starving!"

George IV
It seems we beat you Yanks to all this obesity nonsense. “On 10 April 1830 the Duke of Wellington described a typical breakfast eaten by the grossly overweight king as consisting of a pie containing two pigeons and three steaks washed down with wine, Champagne, port and brandy. Two months later, he was dead.”

William Buckland
“The eccentric Dean of Westminster (1784-1856), often served tortoise, rat and mouse on toast to his guests. He also devoured the mummified heart of Louis XIV.”

Edward VII
“Customarily ate 14 courses for lunch and dinner, while the whole chicken placed beside his bed was invariably eaten down to its bones by the morning.” Chicken by the bed! But then we suppose, he didn’t have the luxury of ordering in.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
“The old Etonion-TV chef (b. 1965) is famous for consuming roadkill, human baby placenta and other unconventional ingredients.”*

Taken from ‘Top 10 of Britain’, Russell Ash.

*A little lesson on British social divided and colloquialisms for you here. Depending on who you ask, Hugh Fearnley-Whiitingstall will be described to you as either a “lovable rogue” or a “toffee-nosed pillock”. But we are quite the fan, and for these culinary endeavours, we are officially inducting him as a Great British Food Hero. 

So no need to feel bad – pour another glass or port and get another mince pie down your neck!

Merry Christmas!

Nigella Lawson makes Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake gave us the inspiration for our own sticky, sweet, cocoa-rich version. Follow either recipe for a great holiday treat. Nigella’s also a great food hero of ours, so we are doubly happy to share this with you:

Check out our Youtube channel for more great clips from our favorite chefs, vintage TV adverts, and some great profiles on NYC’s number one Brit-stop teashop (that’s us!).

Observer Food Monthly

Here we are in one of our favorite foodie mags back in 2003, the Observer Food Monthly. The food critic Jay Rayner is definitely a big food hero of ours, so we’re especially touched that, alongside Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl, he’s been singing our praises.

JamieOliver.com

The British Invasion
Tue 26 Apr 2011 @ 08:52 | story by Ashley Van Buren

Royal wedding fever has made its way across the pond to America. To prepare for Friday’s festivities, I sat down with Nicky Perry, who introduced New Yorkers to delicious, home-style British food and a proper cuppa when she opened her first shop, Tea & Sympathy, in 1989. Two year later, she added Carry On Tea & Sympathy, an emporium of British-imported food stuffs, China, and British-themed paper goods. She followed that act up with her fish and chips shop, A Salt & Battery, all located next to each other on Greenwich Avenue in New York City’s West Village.

In addition to putting British food on the map in America, Nicky Perry and her staff (which includes waitresses who have worked in the shop for 16+ years, and chef who proudly told me he’s been in the kitchen since day one) have turned the cuisine and the restaurant into a destination spot for tourists and a hang out for locals. “We don’t hire the staff, they hire themselves,” says Nicky. “They have to love each other and the customers because they look after each other here and that shows.” In a restaurant that has ten tables and twenty seats, everyone is forced to develop a close relationship, even if it’s with the stranger at the next table during teatime, so everyone is dedicated to making it work in close quarters and keeping up the convivial atmosphere.

In honor of the royal wedding, Tea & Sympathy is pulling out all the stops. Nicky informs me of all their plans: “We’re going to decorate the street with bunting, we’ve commandeered the French restaurant [Lyon] on the corner, since we’re so tiny, and they’re going British for the day and we’re serving a British breakfast and broadcasting the wedding live on a large screen near the bar, which will play on a loop all day. All of the stores on the block even got into the act by decorating their windows and giving in to our incredible raffle, which is raising money for the royal couple’s charity. It’s nice to see every local shop getting into the spirit of it all.”

As for the wedding day food, Nicky isn’t cutting any corners, “We’re making Devils on Horseback, smoked salmon quail Scotch eggs, and samosas, lamb chops and mint gravy and kedgeree, which is very hard for us to make, and I’m not going to make any money off it, but I want to make it proper,” says Nicky. “For dessert, we’re doing Eton mess, and bread and butter pudding … and champagne, of course!”

If you can’t make it to Tea & Sympathy’s stateside celebration of the royal wedding, use Nicky’s menu as inspiration, search the recipes on JamieOliver.com for more ideas, and check in with our forum topic dedicated to sharing at-home royal wedding celebration menus.

While I talked with Nicky, an elderly British woman came in with a present she had been meaning to give Nicky for ten years. It was a small, vintage tea tin. Inside the tin was the tea company’s motto, which Nicky read out loud: “Celebrated for great strength, delicious flavor, and uniform good quality. Once used, always used.” Without missing a beat, Nicky remarked, “It’s like Tea & Sympathy, darling.”

If you are in Manhattan on Friday, April 29th, the festivities kick-off at 6:00am at Lyon (118 Greenwich Ave NY, NY) and go between Tea & Sympathy (108-110 Greenwich Ave) starting at 10:30am and Lyon throughout the rest of the day (and well into the weekend). From tea and scones to bagpipers, pop musicians, and even a bit of a block party, a British invasion indeed.