Bath Buns for a gamekeeper

Hagrid poured them tea and offered them a plate of Bath buns but they knew better than to accept; they had had too much experience with Hagrid’s cooking. (Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, ch.14)

Hagrid, the half giant gamekeeper of Hogwarts, does not enjoy a reputation of a good cook but his treacle fudge is going to be very handy for Harry Potter in this same novel.   

But what about those buns? They are named after the town of Bath in the southwest of England and it is one of the places beloved by Jane Austen that placed many central episodes of her novels there (think about Persuasion or Northanger Abbey).

There is a large debate on the origins of those buns, they are either attributed to Sally Lunn a French Huguenot refugees during the period that bring the recipe with her, or to the physician William Oliver. I had a look to my personal bible, when we are speaking about English food, that is Lady Carlotte Campbell Bury, The Lady’s Own Cookery Book, were there are two different versions for the buns, one, it doesn’t resemble to a bun at all, rather a biscuit. The second one is the one that I present here, a bit adapted to modern taste.

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Ingredients

For the dough:

250 g. milk

10g. dried yeast

650g. white flour

3 tbs of sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

280 gr. butter

50 gr. sultanas or cranberry

For the finishing:

4 tbs sugar

2tbs water

3 tbs of sugar pearls

Directions

Warm the milk with the butter, until the butter is completely melted.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the milk and butter, then bring together into a dough. Knead until is elastic.

Put the dough in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface add the sultana or the cranberries and work them in. 

Take small pieces of the dough a prepare the round buns.

Allow the buns to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown

Make a syrup by mixing the sugar and the water in a pot and bring it to boil. Brush the syrup over the buns as soon as they came out of the oven. Sprinkle sugar pearls on the top.

Serve with jam and whipped cream.

Finally, I don’t know if I am a good cook but, Hagrid, sorry, I am better than you!

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Aunt Petunia’s Lemon Meringue Pie

In Italian here

“During the lemon meringue pie, Uncle Vernon bored them with a long talk about Grunnings, his drill-making company; then Aunt Petunia made coffee and Uncle Vernon brought out a bottle of brandy.”Can I tempt you, Marge?”Aunt Marge had already had quite a lot of wine. Her huge face was very red.”Just a small one, then,” she chuckled. “A bit more than that… and a bit more… that’s the ticket.”Dudley was eating his fourth slice of pie. Aunt Petunia was sipping coffee with her little finger sticking out. Harry really wanted to disappear into his bedroom, but he met Uncle Vernon’s angry little eyes and knew he would have to sit it out.”

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It is from the second chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban. Uncle Venon’s sister (as unpleasing as her brother) is visiting the Dursley and they are having lemon meringue pie as a dessert, it is the conclusion of the dinner, but unfortunately the start of a nasty argument for Harry Potter.

Lemon merin2sgue pie is more American than British, but the choice, I suppose, is due to aunt Petunya “wannabe” behaviors. The original recipe for the curd in this pie has a very intense lemon taste, for this reason I offer also a less intense version of the curd.

 

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Pie Crust

300 gr. flour

150 gr. cold butter

150 gr. sugar

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

½ teaspoon of raising power

Intense lemon filling

3 egg yolks

160 gr sugar

30 gr cornstarch

3 tbs water

3 lemon (juice and zest)

100 gr heavy cream

Less intense lemon filling

4 egg yolks

160 gr sugar

3 lemon (juice and zest)

400 ml water

2  tbs butter

Meringue Topping:

2 egg whites

200 gr powder sugar

a few drops of lemon juice

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For the crust, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Briefly mix with the tip of your fingers until the dough starts to clump together. Gather the dough t in a ball, , wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for a minimum of 2 hours, but better for one night.

Roll out the dough in a circle and fit a pie pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Spread a sheet of baking paper inside the pie crust. Fill the crust with pie weights or beans and bake until the crust is dry and set, about half an hour at 180 C. minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

For the filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.  In saucepan put lemon juice and when it is warm add the cornstarch mix, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Whisk in the yolks and continue cooking and stirring until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir gently until fully incorporated.

For the meringue, beat the egg whites and half of sugar until soft mounds form. Add the remaining sugar gradually with the help of a spatula mixing with a top-down movement.

To assemble the pie, pour the filling into the crust. With a piping bag pipe swirls on the top of the lemon filling.

Place again in the oven, under the grill until the Meringa topping get a nice golden brown color.

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Crostata meringata al limone

In English here

La crostata meringata al limone è un dolce appariscente e patinato, la scelta perfetta per concludere una cena a casa Dursley, sarebbe bastato non tirare in ballo i genitori di Harry Potter…

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“…al momento della meringata al limone, zio Vernon li tediò tutti con un lungo discorso sulla Grunnings, la sua ditta produttrice di trapani; poi zia Petunia fece il caffè e zio Vernon tirò fuori una bottiglia di brandy.

«Un bicchierino, Marge?»
Zia Marge aveva già bevuto parecchio. Il suo faccione era molto rosso. «Ma sì, appena appena» disse ridacchiando. «Un po’ di questo, un po’ di

quello… come il ragazzo».
Dudley stava facendo sparire la quarta fetta di meringata. Zia Petunia beveva il caffè con il mignolo teso. Harry avrebbe tanto voluto eclissarsi in camera sua, ma incontrò lo sguardo furioso di zio Vernon e capì che doveva resistere.”

È il secondo capitolo di Harry Potter e il prigioniero di Azkhaban. Dai Dursley c’è ospite la sorella di zio Vernon, antipatica come il resto della famiglia e alla fine della cena viene servita una meringata che conclude dolcemente il pasto ma apre una conversazione amara.

Con meringata viene tradotto l’originale lemon meringue pie che in realtà appartiene più alla tradizione Americana che a quella inglese.

La ricetta che vi propongo ha una crema di limone molto, molto intensa, ma offrirò anche una versione meno “limonosa”

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Ingredienti

Per la pastafrolla:

300 gr. farina

150 gr. burro freddo

150 gr. zucchero

la buccia di un limone grattugiata

(io metto anche una punta di lievito in polvere che rende la pasta meno compatta, ma la versione originale non ne prevede la presenza)

Per la crema al limone (gusto intenso)

3 tuorli d’uovo

160 gr di zucchero

30 gr di maizena

3 cucchiai di acqua

3 limoni (succo e buccia grattugiata)

100 gr di panna

2 cucchiai di burro

Per la crema al limone (Gusto meno intenso)

4 tuorli d’uovo

160 gr di zucchero

il succo e la buccia di due limoni

400 ml di acqua

due cucchiai di burro

Per la Meringa:

2 bianchi d’uovo

200 gr di zucchero a velo

qualche goccia di limone

Istruzioni:

Preparate le pastafrolla mischiando insieme tutti gli ingredienti. Impastate il meno possibile, ed usando solo la punta delle dita per evitare che l’impasto si scaldi. Formate un panetto e mettetelo a riposare in frigo per almeno due ore (meglio se per tutta la notte).

Stendete la pastafrolla alta pochi millimetri e ricoprite uno stampo imburrato oppure foderato di carta da forno. Punzecchiate leggermente l’impasto, appoggiatevi sopra della carta da forno e copritelo con dei ceci secchi perché rimanga in forma. Cuocete per circa mezz’ora a 180 gr.

Preparate la crema mischiando insieme zucchero e maizena e aggiungendo l’acqua in modo che si formi un composto privo di grumi, mettere il succo e la buccia di limone a scaldare in una casseruola, quando è vicino al punto di ebollizione aggiungere la crema di zucchero e maizena e mescolando con una frusta, aspettate qualche minuto che si addensi. A questo punto abbassate leggermente il fuoco e aggiungete i tuorli, mischiando energicamente, quando la crema ha assorbito i tuorli, aggiungete la panna ed il burro, una volta che anche questi saranno assorbiti, togliete dal fuoco e aspettate che si freddi.

Preparate le meringhe montando a neve ben ferma due chiare d’uovo con meta dello zucchero. Una volta montate, aggiungere il resto dello zucchero ed incorporarlo con una spatola, dal basso verso l’alto per evitare che il composto si sgonfi.

Quando la crema ed il guscio di pastafrolla saranno ben freddi, potete passare all’assemblaggio della torta. Mettete il guscio di pastafrolla in un piatto da portata e riempitelo con la crema al limone. Con l’aiuto di una siringa o di un sac-a-poche coprite la torta con ciuffi di meringa. Mettete pochi minuti in forno con funzione grill. Quando è pronta mettete la torta a riposare in frigo per almeno un paio di ore prima di servirla.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peels Pie

Il club del libro e della torta di bucce di patata di Guernsey é un romanzo delizioso, non riesco a trovare un altro aggettivo per descriverlo.

il club del libro

Non lo conoscevo, cosi come non conoscevo la sua autrice, Mary Ann Shaffer che ha scritto questo unico romanzo, infatti mentre lo scriveva si è ammalata gravemente ed ha chiesto a sua nipote, Annie Barrows, di finirlo per lei. Ho visto il film su Netflix e mi è piaciuto quindi ho deciso di leggere anche il libro e mi è piaciuto ancora di più. Senza fare la spoiler, dico soltanto che si tratta di un romanzo epistolare. Siamo in Inghilterra nel 1946, Il personaggio principale, Juliet, in cerca di un’idea per il suo secondo libro, dopo che il primo è stato un successo, inizia una fitta corrispondenza con i membri del club del libro e della torta di bucce di patata di  Guernsey. Le raccontano cosa abbia significato la guerra per loro (Guernsey è stata per cinque anni sotto l’occupazione nazista)le amicizie ed i rancori che sono nati. Spicca tra tutti il personaggio di Elisabeth, donna coraggiosa che pur potendo fuggire a Londra era rimasta sull’isola per aiutare un’amica.

Mi fermo qui, aggiungendo solo che il mio personaggio preferito è Isola, “una strega che pratica la sua arte”.

La torta di bucce di patate nasce dal fatto che sull’isola, dopo l’occupazione, era venuto a mancare tutto, si trovavano solo patate e qualche barbabietola. Cosi Will Thisbee, volendo portare qualcosa una sera che era stato invitato a una cena molto speciale(non voglio spifferare niente) inventò questa ricetta(patate schiacciate, barbabietole per dargli un po’ di dolce e le bucce di patata per simulare la crosta, il tutto da mandar giù con un bicchierino di gin preparata da Isola.

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Io ho rivisto un po’ la ricetta e il tocco da maestra (me lo dico da sola) sono proprio le bucce di patata che ho spolverato leggermente con polvere di curry e sale e le ho fritte nella friggitrice ad aria calda, sono sinceramente buonissime…

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Il Pie fa la sua figura servito caldo come contorno a fette di arista arrosto o di roast-beef (l’ho provato), ma penso che starebbe benissimo anche con il pesce fritto all’inglese(che invece penso di proporre uno di questi giorni nel mio blog).

Buon appetito a tutti e fatemi sapere se da adesso in poi pensate ancora di buttare via le bucce di patata.

 

Ingredienti

2 patate grosse (500-600 gr) a buccia sottile

2 barbabietole cotte al vapore

3 cucchiai di olio EVO

1 spicchio d’aglio (piccolo)

1 cucchiaino di curry

sale q.b.

 

Procedimento

  • Con l’aiuto di una spazzolina, pulire bene le patatein maniera tale che la buccia risulti senza sporco o impurità.
  • Sbucciare le patate e cuocerle al vapore. Nel frattempo, asciugare le buccedi patate, spolverarle con polvere di curry e salee cuocerle nella friggitrice ad aria calda. Se non si ha questo tipo di friggitrice, cuocerle al forno con la funzione grill.
  • Tagliare le barbabietole a fette sottilicon la mandolina
  • Quando le patate sono cotte, schiacciarle beneo passarle al setaccio, ed aggiungete l’olio in cui avrete frullato un piccolo spicchio d’aglio, aggiustate con il sale.
  • Per comporre il pie basta fare uno strato di purea di patate, uno strato di barbabietole e coprire con uno strato di patate, alla fine decorare con le bucce di patate come se fosse una crostata.

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Blueberry jam pie/The Jane Austen Challenge

 

‘Then the baked apples came home, Mrs Wallis sent them by her boy; they are always extremely civil and obliging to us, the Wallises, always —I have heard some people say that Mrs Wallis can be uncivil and give a very rude answer, but we have never known anything but the greatest attention from them. And it cannot be for the value of our custom, now, for what is our consumption of bread, you know? Only three of us [endearingly, she counts Patty] —besides dear Jane at present —and she really eats nothing —makes such a shocking breakfast, you would be quite frightened if you saw it. I dare not let my mother know how little she eats – so 1 say one thing and then I say another, and it passes off. But about the middle of the day she gets hungry, and there is nothing she likes so well as these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr Perry; I happened to meet him in the street. Not that I had any doubt before – I have so often heard Mr Woodhouse recommend a baked apple. I believe it is the only way that Mr Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome. We have apple dumplings, however, very often. Patty makes an excellent apple dumpling.’ (Emma).

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I haven’t written in my Jane Austen Challenge for a while because I was distracted by all this amazing spring herbs and fruits that are so abundant in the Mediterranean area but not very common on a Regency table.

Sweet pies (in particular apple pies) are often mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels and letters: in Austin’s time not all the household were so lucky to have a oven of their own, so, in this case, the Bates has to send the pies out to the baker to have them cook.

Back to our modern time I decided to use what was left of my homemade blueberry jam that I prepared last  summer for this pie, I used spelt flour instead of white flour, because it adds an extra crunchy texture to the crust and it tastes a little bit like almonds.

The aspect of this recipe that I really like is that you don’t need a scale, a simple cup will do the job. I used a biscuit injector machine to ornate my pie with romantic flower-like biscuit. The recipe was enough for a pie of 25 cm. of diameter and 20 small biscuits.

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Ingredients:

2 cups of spelt flour (or white flour)

½ cup of sugar

½ of butter (cold)

2 Tbs of yogurt

1 egg

5 gr raising powder

Blueberry jam (also raspberry jam is nice with spelt flour)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix  flour, sugar and baking powder, then add the butter, yogurt and egg.
  • Mix all the ingredient, but pay attention to work the mixture for just the minimum time required to form a soft dough, you haven’t to warm the butter!
  • Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface until is abut ½ cm thick.
  • Transfer the rolled crust to an ungreased pie plate. Trim the dish of any extra dough.
  • Fill the pastry shell with the jam, then with the extra dough prepare some decorations. Bake in pre heated oven at 180° for 30-35 minutes, until golden.

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Cottage Pie (The Jane Austen Challenge)

I haven’t post in my Jane Austen Challenge for a while. Spring is a very busy moment for my family and me. It is mid-term exams period for my students and my kids. Kids have to practice intensively because the regatta season starts, and I have to balance between job, home and shuttle the kids to the practice spot nearly every day. I felt I need some comfort food, and my mind went back to my early teens, when I first went to UK to improve my English. I discovered there the Cottage Pie, a very humble pie, when compared to others but tasty and very easy. You would say that there is no mention of Cottage Pies in Jane Austen’s work, and you would be right, but that very summer, our English teachers gave us “Emma” as one of our summer readings and it was love at first sight both with Jane Austen and UK.

I have travelled extensively in my life and lived in different country, but whenever I go to UK I have the same sensation than I get in Italy: “home”.

The recipe I suggest you, is my own recipe, the one that I developed in the years. The topping is prepared with the same procedure my mom was using to prepare her “potato pure” and enriched with cottage cheese. I hope you will enjoy this small Italian contamination of a traditional English recipe. Let me know.

 Cottage Pie 2

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 chopped stalk of celery
  • 700 gr beef mince
  • 300 ml homemade beef stock
  • 1 tbs white flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of thyme
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil

 

For the topping

  • 750gr potatoes, boiled or steamed and peeled
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 150 ml milk
  • 100 gr. of grated cheddar cheese

 

 

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190’ C
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion, the celery and carrot and cook over a medium heat until soft (the onion should be translucent).
  3. Add the minced beef and cook very well until is brown.
  4. Dissolve the flour in the warm beef stock and add it to the mince along with bay leaf and thyme.
  5. Cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes, it will be ready when the gravy has a creamy consistency.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the topping, mash the potato in a pan heat the butter over low heat
  7. Add the mashed potato to the butter, mix well and add the milk.
  8. When the milk is absorbed add the cheddar and stir until completely dissolved in the mash. season with salt and pepper.
  9. Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish (I used single-serve oven proof cups). Top with the mash and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Cottage Pie 9
Golden Brown topping that melt in your mouth

Cottage Pie 8
The spoonful of flour in the mince adds texture to the gravy