Saturday, April 25

Foody Friday: Egg Pies

I dreamt Riptide had accepted Exoticism, except they'd changed their name and used a completely different story of mine. One I wrote when I was about thirteen (if I could remember which, I'd dig it out again). Also, I was on a train that stopped at a wet adn grey seaside town, and there was some kind of mystery. Then I dreamt I missed my dentist appointment and he was very angry.

Mostly, though, I was disappointed that I only dreamt about the Riptide acceptance, and that it's going to be some weeks yet before I can even think about hearing back from them.

Anyway, this week I've got two recipes for Egg Pie from Court Cookery. It's a nice example of how period cookey books group recipes. Sometimes you'll get several near-identical versions of the same recipe, sometimes you'll get some completely different recipes under the same name. This is an example of the latter.

First, a basic Shortcrust Pastry Recipe

This isn't period accurate. Shortcrust is really quite recent. Medieval pies were made with a liquid lard dough that wasn't usually eaten; in fact, you often reused them. Georgian and later liked to use puff pastry, but I can't make that! So, it's a nice solid, edible, and quite delicious shortcrust instead. Leftovers can be used to make cheese straws!


100g plain white flour
50g butter
(or any variation, as long as you have twice as much flour as fat)
Cold water




Sieve your flour into the bowl

Cut your butter into small pieces

Get your fingers in there and rub the flour and butter into the consistency of breadcrumbs. Try lifting it high above the bowl and letting it fall as you rub; this gets more air into the pastry.

Add the cold water gradually, using a knife to bind the mixture together.

Use your fingers to roll the pastry into a ball. When you're done, you can roll it around the bowl without leaving any crumbs or smears stuck to the side.

Stick it in the fridge to cool which you make the pie contents.

An Egg Pie


5 eggs
250g of bone marrow or beef suet (failing both, you can probably get away with finely minced beef, but I've not tried it)
Mace, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Sugar, Salt, Lemon peel, Citron to season
More Citron and Biscuit Crumbs to top
Your Pastry


Pie Dish
Pastry Brush


I've quartered the original ingredients here, so instead of hard boiling 20 eggs, you only have to hard boil 5.

Allow to cool (or stick into a bowl of cold water) and peel the shells off. Mash with a fork. Add the marrow or suet.

Season with your many spices. From the lemon and citron, just use the zest.

Roll out your pastry Cut a circle a little too big for the base of the pie and line your pie dish. Prick some holes in the bottom and put into the oven.

Cook on a low heat until the base is crisp and beginning to turn golden (about ten minutes). If you see bubbles forming, poke them with your fork. It should shrink as it cooks (which is why you want it too big to start with)

Take out of the oven and add your filling. Roll our a top for the pie. Use the brush to spread milk around the edge of the pie crust before laying the top on. Press down on the edges with the fork to bind the top to the base. Cover it with milk, and prick or cut it to let the steam out.

Cook on a medium heat until golden. About half an hour, I find.

An Egg Pie another Way


5 egg yolks
1/2 pint Custard (I already did pastry, so you can work our custard for yourself!)
Mace, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Sugar, Salt, Lemon, Citron to season
Your Pastry (less than the previous pie)


Pie Dish
Pastry Brush


I've quartered the original ingredients here, so instead of hard boiling 20 eggs, you only have to hard boil 5.

Allow to cool (or stick into a bowl of cold water) and peel the shells off. Cut open and remove the yolks.

Mash or grate the yolks. Season with your many spices. From the lemon and citron, just use the zest.

Empty the water from the saucepan you used to boil them, and bung everything into the pan, along with the custard.

While this is cooking, roll out your pastry. Cut a circle a little too big for the base of the pie and line your pie dish. Prick some holes in the bottom and put into the oven.

Cook on a low heat until the base is crisp and beginning to turn golden (about ten minutes). If you see bubbles forming, poke them with your fork. It should shrink as it cooks (which is why you want it too big to start with)

Take out of the oven and add your filling. Bake in the oven for about thrity minutes, until it's golden brown and firm.

Take out, and sprinkle with citron zest, and add biscuit crumbs.

Court cookery: or, The compleat English cook
By Robert Smith
Edition: 2
Published 1725
Original from Oxford University
Digitized May 1, 2007

BTW, if you're in the UK, watch the Budget Report on BBC iPlayer. 27:03 minutes in. There was a competition...

Sunday, April 19

Foody Friday: Poached Eggs

Again, not a Friday. This week's excuse is that I was in Birmingham, watching P!nk to her funhouse show. It was actual my first ever concert (I saw Sandi Thom live before she was big, in an arts centre theatre; there were little round tables and glass of wine and candles and it was all incredibly civilised). Brilliant. She is unexpectedly small to contain such a large voice, and very acrobatic. Raygun opened, who were very good, and whose frontman apparently wants to be Mick Jagger when he grows up.

Next week, I'm going to see Chicago, so it'll be a late post, and the week after that it's The History Boys. I seem to have developed not so much a social life as a culture life.

Anyway, back to eggs.

My favourite way to do eggs is poached. Like many foods, this is partly because I didn't have poached eggs until quite late on - I think I was 16. This isn't true - I had poached eggs before then, I know, because my mother has an egg poacher - but it's the first time I remember, and I associate them with deep indulgence. As a final family holiday, we'd managed to get cheap tickets on a cruise, and Eggs Benedict was one of the breakfast options. Addicted. Yum.

Poaching eggs is a bit of an art, especially if you don't own an egg poacher. I've had to experiment a lot, and I still don't get them perfect each time.

Eggs Benedict

1 Egg
1 English Muffin (or, if you're english like me, just a plain muffin!)
2 Rashes of bacon or slices of good ham (not processed yuk)
Hollandaise Sauce (1 yolk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 5 teaspoons clarified butter)

2 Saucepans
1 glass or pyrex bowl
1 Toaster or grill
slotted spoon


This is a multitasking madness recipe. Honestly, I tend to buy hollandaise sauce, which makes life so much easier, but no cheating here.

Start with the hollandaise. Beat your egg yolk with a little seasoning.

Beat the lemon juice into the yolk, making sure it's incorporated really well.

Clarify some butter! Put in in a saucepan, melt it, and skim off hte white stuff that appears on top.

Fill the other saucepan with hot water and keep it simmering. Float the bowl in it. This'll make it warm, but not over heat it.

At this point, stick your bacon on the grill. If you're grilling your muffin, stick that on too, otherwise hold off a little.

Add the clarified butter a little at a time. Stir constantly. Once it starts to thicken you can add it more quickly. Keep going until it's completely smooth.

If you're toasting your muffin, stick it in the toaster now.

Take your hollandaise out of the saucepan. Add a little vinegar to the water and stir vigorously.

You can break your egg for poaching into a ramekin or dish, or straight into the water. The trick is to get the water swirling as fast as you can. Break the egg (or pour it from the ramekin) low over the water. You may need three hands.

Your muffin should be done, and your bacon as well. While you're waiting for the egg stick the muffin on a plate and the bacon on top.

As soon as the white of the egg turns solid fish it out with a slotted spoon. you can rest it on a bit of kitchen roll, or just shake the excess water off.

Rest it on top of the bacon. Pour the hollandaise on top.


For a veggie version, use spinach instead of bacon.

Beeton, Isabella; Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management;; 2007

And Wikipedia!

Monday, April 13

Amazon Rank

Amazon Rank

Adding to the Google Bomb. For those who don't know, Amazon has delisted (nearly)* all GLBT books, fictional and non-fictional, from its ranks because it's declared them Adult.

I read the blogs of several agents and publishers, many of whom have already picked this up. I think that's going to be what makes the difference, really; authors whose books have disappeared. Books have been disappearing since February, but there seems to have been a mass pull recently. I'm thinking Amazon has been pulling books in response to complaints for a while, and have decided it'd be quicker to just pull everything tagged Erotica and GLBT, which means they've overlooked things like Playboy books and homophobic manuals that wouldn't use the term GLBT while accidentally picking up kids non-fiction and fairly tame romance novels.

If you're looking for an alternative online bookstore, can I point you towards Better World Books, which sells new and secondhand books, supports literacy charities in the third world, and is even carbon neutral. There's a postage charge outside of the US, but otherwise is does everything bookwise that Amazon does.

*Heather Has Two Mommies has gone, but not A Parent's Guide To Preventing Homosexuality. Hmm...

Saturday, April 11

Foody Friday: Eggs

I think being late is something of a permanent pattern. Oh well.

This month's theme is Eggs. Very appropriate right now. Today, you get two recipes inspired by from Mrs Beeton, because I can't stand recipes that only use either whites or yolks and give you no suggestion what to do with what's left.

Chocolate Pots

We're not following Mrs Beeton cosely at all here, since I don't have much truck with isinglass or gelatin, and I don't own a fire to cook over.

3oz Dark Chocolate
1/4 lb Sugar
1 1/2 Pints Cream
6 Egg Yolks

Glass Bowl
Wooden Spoon
Sauce Pan
Small Pots (ramekins, tea cups, glasses, or similar)


Separate the Yolks and Whites of the eggs. Put the whites aside, and beat the yolks well.

Warm half the cream. Beat the other half until your arm hurts.

Melt the chocolate. My Housemate does this in the microwave, which I don't trust, so I'd use a bain marie (glass bowl floating in a suacepan of hot water).

Add the yolks, sugar, and the warm cream to the chocolate. Keep it in the bain marie (if you can stop it over balancing) to stay nice and warm.

Add any alcohol or liquer (brandy, rum, cointreau, and baileys are all nice) and stir until thick and smooth.

Fold in the whipped cream. It should be incredibly thick now.

Dollop into pots, and stick in the fridge to set. No one can eat too much of this, no matter how much they think they can.

If you want to be Eastery, stick some chocolate eggs in the top of each desert. Same goes for the next one, actually - meringue nests are always a good place to put eggs. As such, I've made the recipe chocolately, though obviously the original isn't.

And Meringues!

6 Egg Whites
1/2 lb Icing Sugar
1/4 lb cocoa or hot chocolate powder (for the original, just add this amount of icing sugar)

Glass Bowl
Baking Tray
Silicon paper or Baking Parchment (not greaseproof paper - so sayeth the voice of experience)


Beat the whites until your arm hurts. Beat them some more. Shake the pain out of your arms and go back to beating. Beat in time to music. Beat while staring desperately at the clock. Get someone else to beat the whites. Beat until the muscles in your arm are shaking.

Or use an electric whisk. Wimp.

Anyway, beat until they are stiff and fluff and stand up in peaks.

Sieve the suggar and hot chocolate powder (better than cocoa for this because it's sweet too) and fold into the whites.

Line your bakring tray with paper and dollop the mixture onto it. If it spreads, you didn't beat it enough, or you left it too long. Oops.

Cook on a low heat for about an hour. They should be crisp on the outside and sound hollow when you tap them (and shouldn't break beneath your fingers). You can pick them up off the baking tray without sticking and check the bottom, too.

If you want them crisp all the way through, turn the oven off and leave them there until it's cold. If you want them a little squidgy (I do!) take them out.

To make nests, use a spoon to make a hollow in the dollops on the tray, and one baked use a little whipped cream to make a secure seating for the eggs. Or, do it Eton Mess way and break up your meringues, mix them with cream, and make a nice big bowlful.

(Eton Mess, for those who don't know, is plain merinques, whipped cream, and strawberries. In a mess. Very good summery desert, and a lot of fun to do.)

Friday, April 3

Foody Friday. Um

So, I've missed two in a row. Slapped wrist. The first was my mother's birthday. We went to see The Lion King at the Lyceum. The second Friday, I was watching Dinner Ladies at the local theatre. I'm going to see The History Boys and Chicago, and possibly some Pinter, later this month.

Yes, I fall into that nice category of Under 26 that means I can get free entry to some theatres in this country for the next two years.

So far that hasn't applied at all. I can't believe how much I've spent!

Technically, this month's theme is eggs (Easter, see?), but since I missed two offals in a row, I thought I'd throw you my very own made-up bolgnaise recipe. cook this about once a month and freeze it in multiple portions for when I can't be arsed to cook. Currently in the freezer is mince + stewing beef + pig kidney.

Massive Bolognaise-type Thing

This either feeds 8, or one person for 8 days.


400g mince
200g ox heart
200g calves' liver or pig kidneys
1 tin chopped tomatoes
6 fresh tomatoes
2 onions
2 red peppers
Tomato Puree
1 glass red wine (and another 1 for you!)
Seasoning to taste

(for a veggie version, ditched the mince and offal and use about a kilo of mixed dried beans. Soak them over night)


Chopping Board
Sharp Knife
Huge pot
Stirring spoon


Chop your onions roughly. Put a bit of oil in the bottom of the pot, let it warm up, and add the onions. Cook on a low heat, prodding occasionally.

Dice your heart and liver/kidneys. You can have both liver and kidneys, but I run out of space in my pot if I do that. If I haven't got offal, I like to do this with mixed beans - kidney beans, butter beans and chick peas are good, or just packed of dried mixed beans.

Add mince and offal to the pot. Turn up the heat a bit and allow to brown, prodding occasionally.

Chop your peppers and tomatoes. Add to the pot.

Add the tinned tomatoes, red wine, a squeeze of tomato puree and other seasonings. I like mixed herbs, pinch of salt, pinch of white pepper and worcestershire sauce.

If the meat is sticking out, rinse the tomato tins and pour the tomatoey water in.

Leave to cook, prodding occasionally, until the liquid has cooked right down into a thicksauce. This means the meat will be meltingly tender. Takes about three hours, depending how wet it is to start with.

Eat with pasta, rice, or baked potatoes.

I may throw in a eggy recipe later this week, to catch up. Poached eggs, mousse, and meringues are all definite for this month!