The GBK Cookbook
The British Food Trust
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by Helen Gaffney
Surrey is a gateway to the south-east of England and London. The county covers some 1,500 square kilometres between London to the north and the protected countryside of the Surrey Hills to the south. Home to over a million residents, it's a place where traditional English villages meet modern centres for business and commerce.
The White Dorking chicken was once a major breed of poultry in the south-east of England. It was highly prized as an egg layer and as a table bird. A recipe associated with it is that of Surrey Roast Chicken. Many were fattened and caponised to produce the famous Surrey Capons.
Sheep were also kept in many parts of the county in the past, and lamb chops can be made into a particular pie - Surrey Lamb Pie. Originally this was made with mutton chops and topped with a thick layer of sliced mushrooms rather than with pastry, as in the modern incarnation of the recipe. Another type of pie from the region is that of Herb Pie. This bacon and watercress pie can be made as a flan, without a pastry topping but it is more traditional for it to be served as a plate pie.
The River Thames was once an important fishing ground for eels and Richmond Eel Pie makes good use of these particular fish. And at one time the River Wandle was considered to be amongst the finest trout streams in the south of England, which led to the local recipe for Baked Stuffed Trout.
Watercress beds were once a common sight around the towns of Carshalton and Beddington. The name Carshalton actually means cress-stream. The cress was excellent for making Watercress soup. Another soup from the area is Potato and Onion Soup. This cottager's soup is said to be a sovereign remedy for a cold. It has a slightly coarse texture, although today it can always be processed in a blender before serving if you prefer a smoother texture.
At one time mint and lavender were grown extensively around the town of Mitcham and 'cried for sale' in the streets of London. This particular mint makes an excellent mint sauce.
An unusual vegetable accompaniment from Surrey is that of Broad Bean Pudding. Sometimes it is known as Windsor Bean pudding, even in Surrey, as broad beans were often referred to as Windsor Beans. Originally the pudding was boiled in a cloth rather than baked. It is used to serve as an accompaniment to roast meat, especially pork, ham or gammon.
Although Surrey has no tradition of cheese-making, at one time a soft, buttery cheese, known as Guildford Cheese, was made in the county, but it died out before the Second World War. A type of biscuit that goes well with cheese is derived from a county recipe. These are known as Water Biscuits, a plain crisp cracker to serve with cheese. If the biscuits are not pricked, they puff up and are then known as Blister Biscuits.
Simple, yet elegant, strawberry desserts, such as Summer Strawberries were popular during the Edwardian period at Polesdon Lacey, where society hostess Mrs Greville liked to have strawberries served all year round. Another popular dessert in Victorian and Edwardian days was Tea Cream, always made with a scented tea such as Earl Grey, Jasmine or Orange Pekoe.
At one time the northern boundaries of Surrey and Kent were marked by the Thames. This was until London extended south of the river. Before this happened the London borough of Deptford was a Surrey village and home to a particular kind of light lemony bread pudding called Deptford Pudding. Similarly Crystal Palace, another area now in London, gives us the spectacular, fruity, layered jelly that is Crystal Palace Pudding. Meanwhile Sutton has given us a lovely apple pie - Sutton Pie - which is unusual in that it uses porridge oats for the topping.
One of the best-known sweet delicacies of the region is that of Maids of Honour from Richmond. These delicious little cheese tarts are said to derive their name from the maids of honour of Queen Elizabeth I, who had a palace at Richmond. The original recipe is still a secret, but there are many tasty variations.
Another kind of cake from the county is that of Surrey Lardie Cakes, sometimes known as Dough Cakes or Breakfast Cakes. They can include caraway seeds as well as fruit and spice. Traditionally they are eaten without butter. Custard Cakes are made to a Second World War recipe from Chertsey. Another place that is now a London suburb is Wimbledon, famous for the All England Tennis Championships every June. A particular type of cake from Wimbledon looks like a tennis court and is known, not surprisingly, as Wimbledon Cake!
The town of Guildford is known for a type of soft, buttery roll called a Guildford Manchet. The word 'manchet' is a medieval term for fine white bread, which, by custom, is pulled apart and not cut.
Finally, the Surrey Loving Cup was a drink traditionally served at weddings in a special two-handled cup or glass - one of many such 'Loving Cup' recipes found across the nation.