Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry) & Afternoon Tea

Diamond Wedding Tea

Mum and Dad have recently celebrated their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary. As well as sending them to a local restaurant for a meal, we decided to have an 'afternoon tea'.

For me, afternoon tea is lots of small patisserie and cake items; oh, and some 'token' sandwiches beforehand. I'm not one for scones and cream as part of 'afternoon tea'; they're for other occasions when they can be enjoyed on their own. Now, we're not 'The Savoy', or even 'The Great British Bake Off', so I choose just a small selection of simple things: individual lemon meringue pies, fruit tarts, and meringues, along with cup cakes made by my daughter Hannah. The meringue uses up the egg whites left after the yolks have been used for the pastry and lemon meringue filling. Savouries were cucumber, egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, some even had the crusts cut off!

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Irish White Pudding

Now with Ingredients Calculator

Irish White Pudding

Some time back I posted about my trials of an Irish White Pudding recipe that I developed in collaboration with my forum mate John.

Now, I have to admit, I can take-or-leave these Irish delicacies but I believe that this recipe is as close to the commercial ones, as we can get. That is, the ones which I was sent which are made by Breeo Foods of Dublin and sold under the 'Shaws' brand-name. They're the ones on the left in this picture:

Shaws Irish White Pudding

The final recipe stood up to the 'John's mother-in-law' test and passed with flying colours.

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Old Cure Recipes - 2. Dry Cures, the Theory

Having looked at some of the reasons why we wouldn't just use older cures without amendment in the previous post, let's actually look at a cure and some of the questions it throws up.

A fairly easy recipe to start with, recipe 878 from the 1872 print of 'Warnes Every-day Cookery Book':


878. For every forty or fifty pounds of meat, allow one pound of bay salt; one pound of saltpetre; two ounces of salprunella; four pounds of common salt.

In Yorkshire and the northern counties, pigs are scalded ; the hams, spareribs, and chine cut off, and then afterwards salted thus :—
Rub them well with common salt, and lay them on a board for the first brine to run away, for twenty-four hours; then take for every side of forty or fifty pounds, the above quantity of bay salt, saltpetre, sal-prunella bruised fine, and mixed with four pounds of common salt. Rub the pork well with salt, and put it in the pans at full length; turn and rub it in the brine every day for a fortnight, then take it out, strew it all over with bran or sawdust, and hang it in a wood smoke till it is dry ; place it in a cool dry place, taking care that it does not touch the wall, as that would spoil it.

I say 'easy' because at least this recipe gives us both the amount of ingredients and the amount of meat to cure; often they don't.

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Using Old Cure Recipes

Recently the subject of old curing recipes has come up on two occasions: once in relation to a recipe from a Jane Grigson book, and the other in respect of an American corned beef recipe. Neither person had any qualms about using the recipe; the questions they asked were unrelated to the advisability of using the cure. However, in using older cure recipes, there are a number of things that we need to consider.

old curing books

The first is the amount of curing salt used on the meat. In old recipes, this will generally be in the form of saltpetre (potassium nitrate), Chile saltpetre (sodium nitrate) or even Sal Prunella - a salt made by fusing saltpetre into balls, which produces minute quantities of potassium nitrite enabling the curing process to start more quickly. Many older recipes contain levels of these salts well above the levels considered safe nowadays.

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My Favourite Bacon

Back bacon rashers

I recently posted a bacon tutorial that I wrote for the sausage making forum. The recipe used was an amalgamation of a few already posted by myself and others, as such it was a compromise. Whilst it makes very nice bacon, it is a little sweet for me. The recipe I use most regularly differs in that it's more salty and has less sugar. The method and other instructions are exactly the same as in the bacon and dry curing tutorial.

For 1kg of meat use:

22gm Salt
8gm Sugar
2.5gm Cure #1
0.5gm Sodium ascorbate (optional)
You can add any herbs and spices you fancy. I generally add a minimum of a sprinkle of black pepper and thyme.

Use the cure pro rata for other weights of meat adding whatever herbs and spices you like.

To aid calculation you can use this cure calculator:

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