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Favourite Essex Recipes



Compiled by Michelle Carter

- Essex Shortcakes -

Ingredients: 9 oz. self raising flour, 2 oz. sugar, 3 oz. margarine, 1 oz. lard, 1 oz. currants, 1 fl. oz. milk, sugar for sprinkling

Set oven to 400F or Mark 6. Sift the flour into bowl and add the sugar. Rub in the fats, then add the currants. Gradually mix in the milk until the mixture binds together. Gently roll out the mixture to half inch thick on a lightly floured surface and then cut into slices. Place on a greased baking tray and sprinkle sugar over the top of the biscuits. Bake for about 10 minutes until pale golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the baking sheet while still warm and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes about 12-16 slices.

These shortcake biscuits contain currants and are sprinkled with sugar before baking.

- Barley Cream Soup -

Ingredients: 4 oz. pearl barley, 1 pints chicken stock, pint milk, pint double cream, salt and Pepper, 1 oz. butter, 2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Blanch the barley by placing in a bowl and pouring on boiling water. Leave for 1 minute and then drain. Add the drained barley to the chicken stock in a saucepan and simmer for 2 hours. Liquidise the barley mixture and then add to it the milk, cream, salt and pepper, and the butter cut up into small pieces. Return to the saucepan, reheat and then serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley.
Serves 6.

A recipe from the 18th century when Essex was a considerable barley growing county.

- Colne Chicken -

Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts (boned and skinned), 8 rashers of streaky bacon, juice of one lemon, tablespoon chopped sage, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme, grated rind of one lemon

Set the grill to hot. Flatten the chicken breast with a wet knife and cut in half lengthways. Brush the chicken pieces with lemon juice. Mix together all the herbs and sprinkle each piece of chicken with the herbs and lemon rind. Wrap a rasher of streaky bacon around each piece of chicken and grill until cooked. Serve two pieces of chicken to each person with roast or saut potatoes and a green vegetable.
Serves 4.

A grilled chicken dish from the villages in the Colne Valley.

- Essex Pudding Pies -

Ingredients: 1 oz. ground rice, pint milk, 1 oz. butter, 2 oz. sugar, 3 eggs, pinch of salt, grated nutmeg, 3 oz. currants, 8 oz. shortcrust pastry

Set oven to 400F or Mark 6. In a saucepan, boil the ground rice in the milk for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the sugar. Beat the eggs well and add them to the rice mixture together with the salt and nutmeg. Beat well and leave to cool, but not set. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line 8 small, greased 6 oz. pudding basins. Fill each basin -full with the rice mixture and sprinkle with currants on top. Bake for 15 minutes.
Serves about 6.

A rice and custard dish which is baked as individual puddings.

- Ugley Duckling -

Ingredients: 1 large duck (about 6 lb.), juice of 1 orange, 2 oz. shredded suet, 4 oz. soft breadcrumbs, pinch grated nutmeg, 3 teaspoons chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon mixed herbs, grated zest of an orange, salt and pepper, duck liver (chopped), two rashers of streaky bacon (chopped), 1 egg, orange segments and rashers of streaky bacon for garnish

Set oven to 425F or Mark 7. Prick the duck breast with a skewer, brush over with the orange juice and sprinkle with salt. Make the stuffing by mixing the breadcrumbs with the suet, add the nutmeg, parsley, mixed herbs and orange zest. Then add the chopped duck liver and chopped bacon rashers. Season. Beat the egg and mix it with the stuffing mixture to bind it. Stuff the duck and place on the highest shelf of the oven for half an hour. Now reduce the oven heat to 350F, or Mark 4 and roast for a further 2 hours. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the segments of orange that have been wrapped in the streaky bacon rashers and then fried.
Serves 4.

Roast duck with a delicious herb stuffing from the village of Ugley near Saffron Walden.

- Devilled Whitebait -

Ingredients: 1 lb. whitebait, 4 tablespoons flour, 2 teaspoons curry powder, teaspoon chilli powder, black pepper, lemon wedges, oil for frying

Wash the whitebait, dry well on kitchen paper and set aside. Put the flour with the other dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Heat the oil very hot in a deep pan. Coat the whitebait in the seasoned flour and fry in the oil, a few at a time, until crisp (about 2-3 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on crumpled kitchen paper. Keep the batches of cooked whitebait hot in the oven until they are all cooked. Serve with the thick lemon wedges and buttered brown bread.
Serves 4.

Every year a blessing of the first whitebait catch is held at Southend. This fish is caught in large numbers along the South Essex Coast.

- Kitchels -

Ingredients: 1 lb. puff pastry, 2 oz. butter, 8 oz. currants, 3 oz. chopped mixed peel, 2 oz. ground almonds, teaspoon ground cinnamon, teaspoon ground nutmeg, sugar for sprinkling

Set oven to 425F or Mark 7. Divide the pastry in half and roll each piece into a thin square on a lightly floured surface. Melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the currants, peel, almonds and spices. Spread this filling mixture evenly on one of the pastry squares to within -inch of the edges, moisten the edges with water and cover with the second piece of pastry. Press together and seal the edges. Mark the top into 2 inch squares without cutting through. Bake for 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Sprinkle with caster sugar and divide whilst still warm.

It was the custom for the newly-elected Mayor of Harwich to throw kitchels from the window of the Guildhall to the children in the street below.

- Southend Fruit Shells -

Ingredients: 4 oz. butter, 4 oz. caster sugar, 2 eggs, 6 oz. flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, few drops vanilla essence, 1 fl. oz. milk, 3 oz. raspberries, 3 oz. blackcurrants, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon sugar, fruit leaves, scallop shells or pyrex shell-shaped dishes

Set oven to 350F or Mark 4. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat the eggs well and gradually add to the creamed mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture. Add the vanilla essence and enough milk to form a soft, dropping consistency. Grease the shells and divide the sponge mixture between them. Cook for 15 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Meanwhile stew the fruit with the sugar and lemon juice. Allow to cool. When the sponge shells have cooled, slice into the sponge lengthways, but not all the way through, part the edges and fill with the stewed fruit. Decorate with fruit leaves.
Makes about 6-8 shells.

- Smoked Oyster Parcels -

Ingredients: 3 x 4 oz. cans smoked oysters, 5 oz. fresh brown breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, 3 hard-boiled eggs (peeled and finely chopped), 1 teaspoon fresh or dried dill (chopped), 12 medium sized spinach leaves

Cut the oysters in half and place in a bowl with their juice. Add the finely chopped hard-boiled eggs, breadcrumbs and dill and blend together. Season. Wash the spinach leaves and remove most of the stems. Steam them for exactly one minute and cool under cold running water. Pat dry each leaf with kitchen paper. Place two teaspoons of the stuffing mixture on to the stem end of a spinach leaf, roll over once, then fold in the sides and roll again to the end so that you have a small, enclosed sausage. Repeat with all the leaves. Then steam the parcels for 10 minutes and serve hot as a starter.
Serves 4.

Colchester is the centre of Essex oyster growing and the ancient Colchester Oyster Feast is held in October.

- Saffron Cake -

Ingredients: 12 oz. self raising flour, 8 oz. currants, 4 oz. butter, 2 eggs, pint milk, 4 oz. sultanas, 2 oz. candied peel, 3 oz. brown sugar, teaspoon saffron

Set oven to 350F or Mark 4. Put the saffron into the milk in a bowl to extract the flavour and stand in the oven for 30 minutes; remove from oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cream together in a bowl the butter and sugar, mix in the flour and then the currants and sultanas. Beat in the eggs and the saffron milk. Mix well and put the mixture into a greased 9-inch round cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hours until golden brown.

The purple-petalled autumn flowering crocus which gave the town of Saffron Waldon the first part of its name was widely cultivated in the locality until the end of the 18th century for culinary and cloth-dying purposes. The yellow saffron is obtained from the crocus stamens.

- Cressing Biscuits -

Ingredients: 4 oz. flour, 3 oz. sugar, 2 oz. margarine, 2 oz. lard, 1 cup rolled oats, teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon hot water, 1 teaspoon golden syrup
Butter Cream: 5 oz. icing sugar, 3 oz. margarine, vanilla essence

Set oven to 350F or Mark 4. In a bowl cream together the margarine, lard and sugar. Sift the flour together with the bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder and mix into the creamed mixture, together with the oats, syrup and hot water. Form into 24 walnut size balls and cook, well spaced, on a greased baking sheet for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make up the butter cream by beating together the icing sugar, margarine and a little vanilla essence and use to sandwich the biscuits when cold.

Plain biscuits filled with a butter cream from Cressing near Braintree.

- Essex Meat Layer Pudding -

Ingredients: Suet Pastry: 6 oz. flour, teaspoon salt, 3 oz. shredded suet, cup cold water
Filling: 1 tablespoon butter, 2 medium sized onions (sliced), lb. minced pork, lb. minced veal or chicken, 1 teaspoon dried sage, teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon chopped chives, teaspoon black pepper, teaspoon salt, teaspoon celery salt, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons double cream

Pastry: sift flour and salt into Bowl and mix in suet. Add enough water to make a stiff dough. Wrap and put in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Meanwhile make filling. Fry onions in butter until soft and golden. Add meats, herbs, seasonings and flour; mix well, cook for 5 minutes then remove pan from heat. Beat together egg yolks and cream and add to meat mixture. Cook 5 minutes more. Butter 2 pint pudding basin. Roll out dough on a floured surface to -inch thick. Cut small circle to fit bottom of basin and put in place. Spoon on layer of meat mixture (about 1-inches deep) then add another circle of dough to fit and another layer of meat. Continue until filling and dough have been used up, finishing with layer of dough (3 layers of meat mixture). Ingredients will not fill basin, but need room for dough to expand. Cover basin with greaseproof paper and kitchen foil and steam for 4 hours. Turn out on to a plate and serve with vegetables.
Serves 4.

- Colchester Pudding -

Ingredients: 1 pints milk, 1 oz. tapioca, pinch of salt, grated lemon rind, vanilla essence, 1 lb. stewed fruit (as available in season), 6 egg yolks, lb. caster sugar, 5 fl. oz. double cream, 3 egg whites

Heat oven to 400F or Mark 6. Heat 1 pint of the milk in a pan, sprinkle on tapioca and salt and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until soft. After 10 minutes add the lemon rind and a few drops of vanilla essence. Put a layer of stewed fruit in an ovenproof dish and cover with the tapioca. To make the rich custard, heat the milk slowly in a saucepan until just simmering; remove from heat. Meanwhile mix the egg yolks and 3 oz of the sugar in a bowl. Gradually whisk the cooled milk into the egg mixture, return to the saucepan over a gentle heat, whisking all the time until it thickens. Then stir in the cream and pour the custard over the tapioca. Next whisk egg whites until stiff, spoon in remaining sugar and pipe meringue mixture over the custard. Put in the oven and bake until the top is brown.
Serves 4-6.

A pudding containing tapioca and stewed fruit topped with meringue.

- Essex Apple Slices -

Ingredients: 1 medium cooking apple, juice of lemon, lb. self raising flour, teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 4 oz. margarine, 4 oz. caster sugar, pint milk, 1 egg, a little melted fat
Icing: lb. sifted icing sugar, 3 teaspoons lemon juice

Set oven to 375F or Mark 5. Peel, core and chop the apple finely and mix with the lemon juice. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the margarine. Beat the milk and egg together and stir thoroughly into the mixture together with the chopped apple. Brush an 11 x 7 inch shallow baking tin with melted fat. Pour the mixture into the tin and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes. Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the lemon juice and just enough water to make a thick spreading consistency. Pour the icing on to the top of the cake whilst still warm and spread evenly. Allow to cool in the tin and when cold cut into 16 slices.

A sponge cake topped with lemon icing and cut into slices.

- Asparagus Pudding -

Ingredients: 2 dessertspoons minced ham, 4 eggs (beaten), 1 dessertspoon flour, salt and pepper, a knob of butter, lb. asparagus, a few tarragon leaves (chopped)

Mince the ham finely and in a bowl, combine with the well-beaten eggs, flour, salt and pepper and the butter. Cut the top part of the asparagus spears into very small pieces and, together with the chopped tarragon, mix with the other ingredients. Then add enough milk to produce a thick, creamy consistency. Pour into a well-buttered mould or pudding basin, cover in foil and steam for 2 hours. Turn out on to a warmed serving dish and pour melted butter round the pudding. Serve hot with hot buttered toast.
Serves 4.

This 19th century Essex recipe makes a delicate first course.

- Maldon Boiled Beef -

Ingredients: 1 piece of topside or silverside of beef, 1 carrot, 1 onion (peeled), 1 leek, bunch of herbs, 2 cloves, peppercorns, water, Maldon Crystal Sea Salt

Peel the onion and stud with the cloves. Scrub the carrot, wash the leek and place with the meat and all the other ingredients, except the salt, in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until the meat is cooked and tender. Lift the meat out of the stock on to a serving dish. Serve the meat sliced, with a good grinding of Maldon Crystal Sea Salt over each slice, together with accompanying vegetables. The stock can be used for soup.
Serves 4.

A warming meal made with the famous Maldon Sea Salt.

- Essex Pumkin Pie -

Ingredients: 1 lb. ripe pumpkin (diced), lb. apple (diced), lb. currants, lb. sultanas, 4 oz. brown sugar, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, juice of a lemon, lb. shortcrust pastry, egg white for brushing, sugar for sprinkling

Set oven to 400F or Mark 6. Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients and put the mixture into a large pie dish; oval or round about 9 inches in diameter and 1-2 inches deep. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cover the pumpkin mixture. Brush with egg white and sprinkle witn sugar. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350F or Mark 4 and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
Serves 6.

An Autumn pudding containing pumpkin, apple and dried fruit.

- Cranham Honey Cake -

Ingredients: lb. self raising flour, 2 eggs, 5 oz. margarine, 2 oz. caster sugar, 3 oz. thick honey, grated lemon rind, 2 oz. glac cherries (chopped), pinch of salt, 4 tablespoons milk

Set oven to 375F or Mark 5. Cream together in a bowl the margarine, sugar and honey. Beat the eggs and then beat them into the mixture. Fold in the sieved flour, salt cherries and lemon rind. Add the milk and mix well. Turn into a greased and floured 7 inch round cake tin. Bake for one hour until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

- Tipsy D'Arcy Spice Apples -

Ingredients: 2 lb. D'Arcy spice apples, 4 oz. soft brown sugar, 3 oz. unsalted butter, 1 large glass sweet white wine

Set oven to 450F or Mark 8. Butter an 11-inch oval, ovenproof dish. Core and slice, but do not peel, the apples. Lay the apple slices in the dish with the slices overlapping. Sprinkle on the sugar and dot with small pieces of the butter. Pour the wine over the top and bake until tender. Serve with single cream.
Serves 6.

The D'Arcy Spice apple was first found in the garden of the Hall at Tolleshunt D'Arcy in 1880; they are a late russet variety which is picked in November and keeps until May. If D'Arcy Spice apples are not available, then Egremont Russet will make a satisfactory alternative.

- Essex Hotpot -

Ingredients: 1 lb. lean pork (cubed), 2 medium onions (peeled and sliced), 1 can condensed chicken soup, 1 small can peeld tomatoes, 6 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced), 3 oz. Cheddar cheese (grated), oil for frying

Set oven to 350F or Mark 4. Remove any bones from the meat and cut into chunky cubes. Fry the onion in a little oil until soft, mix in the meat cubes and brown them quickly on all sides. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole. Add the soup and tomatoes and season to taste. Cover with the sliced potatoes and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 2-2 hours. Remove the foil for the last 20 minutes. Serve with a green vegetable.
Serves 6.

A quickly made pork hotpot covered with potato and cheese.

- Essex Scrap Cakes -

Ingredients: 1-2lb. flead (producing approx. 6 oz. of "scraps"), 1 lb. flour, 4 oz. light soft brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 oz. candied lemon peel, 6 oz. currants, milk to mix, teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

To make the "scraps" take the flead (the fat from the inside of a pig), remove the skin membrane and cut it into small pieces. Place in an ovenproof dish in a hot oven until the fat is reduced to oil, leaving small pieces, or "scraps" floating on the surface. Take care not to let it get too hot; the "scraps" should be crispy but not browned. Strain off the molten lard and set aside to solidify for future use. Set oven to 425F or Mark 7. In a bowl, rub the cold scraps into the flour and add the sugar, spice, peel and currants. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the milk and beat well into the mixture to make a thick paste. Spoon into greased small Yorkshire pudding tins (or similar). Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Makes about 25-30 cakes.

These cakes are very wholesome for children and the resulting home-made lard is of generally better quality than the mass-produced product.

- Debden Tomato and Apple Chutney -

Ingredients: 2 lb. bramley apples, 1 lb. red tomatoes, lb. moist brown sugar, 2 oz. onion (chopped), 1 pint vinegar, lb. raisins, 1 teaspoon salt, pinch of cayenne pepper

Peel, slice and core the apples. In a saucepan, cook together the sliced apples, tomatoes, onions, and raisins in the vinegar until soft. Add the sugar, salt and pepper and cook for about a further 20 minutes. The mixture is sufficiently reduced when a channel formed by a wooden spoon drawn through the mixture no longer fills with vinegar. Pot into hot, sterilised jars and seal with plastic lids or jampot covers. Store for at least one month before eating.

A tangy, Bramley apple chutney from the village of Debden midway between Saffron Walden and Thaxted.

- Chelmsford Pudding -

Ingredients: 2 oz. butter, 2 oz. sugar, 1 egg, pint milk, 4 oz. self raising flour, pinch of salt, 6 oz. stewed fruit (as available in season), sugar for sprinkling

Set oven to 350F or Mark 4. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar to a cream. In another bowl, beat the egg and add the milk to it. Add the flour and milk/egg mixture alternately to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat well. Add salt. Arrange the stewed fruit in a greased 2-pint pie dish and pour the sponge mixture over. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with sugar. Serve hot with custard.
Serves 4.

This baked dessert is made with stewed fruit according to the season.

- Essex Cockle Soup -

Ingredients: 4 slices smoked streaky bacon (chopped), 4 tomatoes, 4 medium new potatoes, 2 onions (peeled and chopped), 1 large glass dry white wine, water, black pepper, tablespoon chopped parsley, 2 pints of cockles in their shells

Fry the bacon until crisp then set aside. Peel the tomatoes by placing them in hot water for 5 minutes, then chop roughly. Peel and dice the potatoes. Fry the potatoes, onions and tomatoes in the bacon fat. When the onions are transparent add the wine, bring to the boil and transfer to a large saucepan. Add sufficient water to cover the mixture, season with pepper and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, clean the cockles thoroughly, place in a saucepan with a little water, cover and cook until they open. Remove the cockles from their shells and put together with their cooking liquor into the soup pan. Serve at once, topped with the bacon and the chopped parsley.
Serves 4.

Leigh-on-Sea is the centre of the Essex cockle industry.

Flour as specified in these recipes refers to plain flour unless otherwise described.

J. Salmon Ltd., Sevenoaks, England


We would like to thank J. Salmon Ltd; Britains oldest established post card and calendar publisher, for allowing Essex Tourist Guide to publish a selection of recipes from their 'Favourite Essex Recipes' book on our website.

For details of the many books available in this series please visit www.JSalmon.co.uk

Other J. Salmon publications include
Local view and general interest post cards Souvenir picture guides Gift books Recipe books Notecards
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