Victoria Sponge

Afternoon tea, the cream tea or high tea has an incredibly grand history and an impeccable pedigree, the Duchess of Bedford is believed to have created with what we now think of as high tea. As tastes changed and the huge Georgian midday meal had become less important and perhaps more importantly smaller, the Duchess is said to have suffered from “a sinking feeling” at about four o’clock in the afternoon. To counter this Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few baked cakes, bread and pastries into her dressing room. She soon invited friends to join her for this additional afternoon meal at five o’clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle which centered around small, dainty cakes, bread, and butter, later to become delicate sandwiches, assorted sweets, and, of course, tea.

This practice proved so popular, the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walking the fields”. The practice of inviting friends to come for tea in the afternoon was soon adopted by other social hostesses up to and including her Majesty Queen Victoria. This was presumably the holy of holies, the highest of high teas. From this humble beginning came what is now a baking classic, a simple cake recipe which was said to be one of the queen’s favourites particularly at Osborn House, on the Isle of Wight. According to historians, it was here that the cakes were named after her.

Victoria Sponge

In the classic 1874 cookery book ‘Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery and Household Management ‘, a recipe is included for Victoria Sandwiches,

Ingredients; 4 eggs; their weight in pounded sugar, butter and flour; 1/4 salt spoonful of salt, a layer of any kind of jam or marmalade.

Mode; Beat the butter to a cream; dredge in the flour and pounded sugar; stir these ingredients well together, and add the eggs, which should be previously thoroughly whisked. When the mixture has been well beaten for about 10 minutes, butter a Yorkshire-pudding tin, pour in the batter, and bake it in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool, spread one half of the cake with a layer of nice preserve, place over it the other half of the cake, press the pieces slightly together, and then cut it into long finger-pieces; pile them in cross bars on a glass dish, and serve.

Average cost, 1s 3d Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable at any time.


My Perfect Vanilla Victoria Sponge

A Victoria sponge is produced by creaming the ingredients together. Other sponges can be made by whisking up the ingredients or by making a smooth batter. The rise in this cake is provided by the incorporation of beaten eggs and the self-raising flour, I find the extra half a teaspoon of baking powder guarantees a perfect result every time. I love the flavour of vanilla in my sponge recipe and the vanilla infused sugar just adds that little extra.

4 fresh Free-range Eggs

200 gr soft Butter or a mix of Butter and Margarine plus a little extra to grease the tins

200 gr Vanilla Caster Sugar

200 gr Self-Raising Flour

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract*

Two 8 inch ( 20 cm ) sandwich tins

Preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas Mark 4 and prepare your sandwich tins by first rubbing a little butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the sides and the bottom of the tin with baking paper.

Lined Cake Tin.jpg

Place a damp cloth onto your worktop to prevent your mixing bowl from slipping. Place a large mixing bowl on top of the cloth and add the butter and sugar. You are going to cream or beat the two ingredients together, the easiest way to do this is with an electric hand mixer, but you can use a wooden spoon. When the butter and sugar are thoroughly mixed, sift the flour and baking powder together into a container and beat the eggs and vanilla extract in a second container.


Add a spoon of the sieved flour to your creamed butter mixture and about one-fifth of the beaten eggs. Beat in to thoroughly incorporate the egg, the flour will prevent the mixture from curdling or splitting. Repeat the process until all of the egg is completely mixed with the creamed butter and sugar.

Cake Mix.jpg

Now change your whisk or wooden spoon for a metal serving spoon and fold in the remaining flour cutting through the mixture with the edge of the spoon in a figure of eight motion. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency – it should fall off a spoon easily.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared sandwich tins gently smoothing down the surface of the cakes. Tap the tins gently on the work surface to knock out any air bubbles and place the cakes on the center shelf of your oven for twenty minutes. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO OPEN THE DOOR while the cakes are cooking. After twenty minutes you can check them, they may need another five minutes. A small skewer inserted in the center of the cake will come out free from any wet dough or crumbs.

The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for five minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.


Set aside to cool completely. To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down onto a plate and spread it with plenty of jam. If you want to, you can spread over whipped cream too. Top with the second cake, top-side up. Sprinkle over the reserved icing sugar

* Vanilla extract is more expensive than flavouring or essence but a far superior product and a little goes a very long way.


Feuilleté Pastry Tarts

Puff pastry can be used to make many different savoury hors d’oeuvre or bite sized appetisers. The most famous of these being little-stuffed Vol-au-vent cases topped with a little lid or delicate Crolines, small lattice topped parcels. My recipe today is how to make the third, great little tartlet case that can also be made slightly larger and used as a savoury starter, light lunch or filled with whipped cream and fruit as a simple, elegant dessert.

Seafood Tart

Feuilleté Pastry Tarts

Why not try your finished Feuillettes filled with roasted Provençal vegetables topped with whipped Goat’s cheese and a little rocket dressed with sea salt and Balsamic, creamy garlic mushrooms with brandy, thyme and nutmeg or a fabulous seafood medley as well as fruit purées and Confectioner’s custard or glazed poached peach halves and raspberries if you have a sweeter palate.

Puff pastry ( ready made or homemade )
Egg wash

Preheat your oven to 400F / 200C / Gas Mark 6. Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured work surface.


Puff Pastry 2

Cut into squares 4 by 4 inches for a large case 1 1/2 inch squared for smaller bite-size tarts.

Puff Pastry 3

Carefully cut two L – shaped into the pastry like the picture above. Make sure to you leave to small pieces of uncut pastry to hold the edges together.

Puff Pastry 4

Egg wash the pastry square the fold over the cut pastry strips.

Puff Pastry 5

Egg wash the tart case again including the sides of the pastry. Dock or prick the center of the case with the tines of a fork, this will prevent the center rising. Transfer to a non -stick baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to relax the pastry. This will help prevent the pastry from shrinking.

Puff Pastry 6

Place in your heated oven and bake for between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your feuilette, until crisp and golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool. You can make your cases ahead of you needing them and store in an airtight container.

Egg fried Rice

In the West, we normally tuck into a bowl of egg fried rice as part of a pile of food placed in front of us on the table in our local Chinese restaurant. In a Chinese banquet, the host will normally serve the rice at the end of the meal as the last course. After a host of other delicious dishes, it is hardly ever eaten. At home, we often tuck into a bowl with a few extras thrown in often whatever we have in the bottom of the fridge, peas, peppers, mushrooms, sweetcorn, peanuts and maybe some cooked chicken or prawns, so I’m going to include two recipes.

Egg fried Rice.jpg

The only downside to this recipe is it is best made using pre-cooked rice which can be prepared before your banquet but unless you are like me and a hopeless judge of how much rice to cook not good for a quick supper, but ideal if you have a tub of plain boiled rice left over from the day before. You don’t need to use anything fancy for egg fried rice like Jasmine or Basmati as the delicate flavours will not hold up, I use a quality long-grain rice from the supermarket.

Egg fried Rice ( 1 )                                                          Serves 2 rather generous portions

500 gr cooked Long-grain Rice, at fridge temperature

2 fresh free-range Eggs, beaten

2 Spring Onions, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

2 tablespoons Light Soy sauce

2 tablespoons Sesame Oil

Freshly ground Salt and Pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan on high heat until smoking, then add the rice, toss until coated well with the oil. Stir fry until the rice is heated through. Whisk the Soy sauce into the eggs and add to the wok, stir quickly so some of the egg is absorbed into the rice and it has just begun to brown a little in places. There should still be some generous flecks of cooked egg throughout the mixture. Season and stir in the sesame oil then serve topped with Spring onions.

Egg fried Rice ( 2 )                                                                      Serves 3 – 4 as a side

650 gr cooked Long-grain Rice, at fridge temperature

750 gr cooked Long-grain Rice, at fridge temperature

200 gr cooked Chicken Breast, diced ( or prawns )

75 gr cooked Garden Peas

1 small Red Pepper, deseeded and finely diced

4 fresh free-range Eggs, beaten

1 bunch Spring Onions, chopped in 1 cm long pieces

4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

4 tablespoons Light Soy sauce

3 tablespoons Sesame Oil

Freshly ground Salt and Pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan on high heat until smoking, then add the rice, spring onions, peas, pepper, and chicken, toss until coated well with the oil. Stir fry until the heated through. Whisk the Soy sauce into the eggs and add to the wok, stir quickly so some of the egg is absorbed into the rice and it has just begun to brown a little in places. There should still be some generous flecks of cooked egg throughout the mixture. Season and stir in the sesame oil then serve.

King Prawn Chow Mein

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The words means ‘fried noodles’, chow meaning ‘ fried ‘ and mein meaning ‘ noodles ’, in which the noodles are stir-fried with onions, celery and flavoured with soy sauce. The dish can is most popularly made with chicken ( however you can substitute pork, beef, tofu and in our case king prawns ). Chow mein is one of the original fast foods and there is some evidence that the dish was originally made in northern China where wheat is a staple crop. The dish was popularised by emigrant Chinese workers from Taishan, many of whom worked on building the American railroads, an estimated half a million Chinese Americans are of Taishanese descent.

King Prawn Chow Mein

There are two styles of chow mein, steamed with large, long, round noodles and crispy chow mein which is sometimes known as Hong Kong style chow mein, with fried flat noodles. In early China, chow mein was eaten with a spoon; now everyone eats theirs using chopsticks. One of the earliest chow mein style recipes although not directly called chow mein is from Madame Wu’s Recipe Book written during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1280 CE).

In American chow mein can have any number of additional ingredients, Pak Choi, Mung Beans, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, and Broccoli and has been readily adapted to suit local tastes, in fact the founder of the food manufacturer Chun King and the creator of canned chow mein admits of using Italian spices to make his product more acceptable to Americans whose ancestors came from Europe. There are adapted recipes for chow mein suiting local tastes in Brazil, Canada, India, Australia and across the Caribbean.

I’ve added water chestnuts and peppers for some extra texture and flavour to my recipe. Adding the sesame oil towards the end of cooking is an authentic tip that will give the dish a glossy finish and a slightly smoky flavour.

King Prawn Chow Mein                        Serves 4

30 Raw King Prawns

750 gr Soft Egg Noodles, cooked and refreshed.

500 gr Beansprouts

100 gr Water Chestnuts, thinly sliced

6 sticks of Celery, washed, peeled and cut into batons

A small Bunch Spring Onions, sliced in 2 cm pieces

Small Red Pepper, de-seeded and sliced

Small Green Pepper, de-seeded and sliced

Small handful of fresh Coriander, torn

2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

5 tablespoons Soy Sauce, or to taste

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Carefully peel off the king prawn shells, these can be reserved and frozen to make a shellfish stock. Lay the prawns flat and make a small cut all the way down the back and take out its intestines. You will see this as a black line running down the back of the king prawn. Boil some salted water in a large pan and cook for two minutes until pink.

Next heat the oil in a wok, over a high heat and add the beansprouts, celery, noodles and garlic, cook stirring continuously for two minutes. Next add in the king prawns, spring onions, peppers, and water chestnuts and fry for a further three minutes. Add salt, sesame oil and soy sauce to taste and cook for another two minutes. Stir in the coriander and serve.

For an extra garnish top with some extra finely chopped spring onions.

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

In Chinese cooking Blackbeans, Salted Blackbeans or Douchi ( 豆豉 ) are the fermented and salted black soybean, and they are most widely used for making black bean sauce dishes. They have a sharp, pungent, smell and the taste is salty and somewhat bitter. They are the oldest food made from the soybean and their use has been dated as far back as 165 BC, after being found in the excavation of a sealed tomb in central China. Blackbeans are only used in a small amount and only as a flavouring due to their saltiness.

Some common dishes made with Blackbeans are steamed spare ribs with fermented black beans and chili pepper and today’s Masterclass recipe Beef in Blackbean sauce.

Chinese Meal

My Top Tip Add splashes of water or vegetable stock occasionally while stir frying – this will produce steam helping to quickly cook the vegetables and prevents sticking.

Beef in Black Bean Sauce                      serves 4

750 gr quality Rump Steak

2 Carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips or julienne

2 large Onions, Peeled and cut into thin slices

1 Green Pepper, cut into slices

1 Red Pepper, cut into slices

75 ml neutral Oil for stir frying

50 gr Fermented Black Beans

3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

3 cm piece of Ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 small Red Chilli, seeds removed and very finely sliced

1 tablespoon quality Toasted Sesame Oil

 For the marinade

3 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce

3 tablespoons Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

¼ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice

1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 teaspoons Corn Flour, mixed with a little cold water

 For the sauce

100 ml quality beef Stock

1 tablespoon Caster Sugar

1 tablespoon Corn Flour, mixed with a little cold water

2 Cloves

Place the rump steak in the freezer for thirty minutes, this firms up the beef making it easier to slice thinly. On a secure board slice the beef with a sharp kitchen knife into thin strips and place into a glass bowl. Add the marinade ingredients, mix well to combine together and fully cover the steak strips.

Cover and chill in the fridge for a minimum of two hours. Meanwhile, prepare the black beans by first rinsing thoroughly in cold water then soaking in fresh water for around half an hour, changing the water once. Drain thoroughly, chop finely and set aside.

When ready to cook, drain the meat from the marinade pouring any remaining marinade into a small, heavy-bottomed pan. Add the sauce ingredients to the marinade and heat gently to thicken, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps forming. Heat the oil in the wok until smoking and carefully add the meat. Stir fry until cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on to some kitchen paper

Heat a little more oil then stir fry onion over medium heat for five minutes before adding the carrots and peppers, continue cooking for a couple more minutes until they are just starting to go soft. Add the black beans and cook for two more minutes stirring continuously, be careful not to burn, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further two minutes. Return the beef to the wok, strain the sauce through a fine sieve and add as well. Mix in the sesame oil  and cook for one more minute stirring all the time to heat the beef through and serve immediately with egg fried rice or noodles.

Cantonese Pork

When you go out to eat or have a take away from your local Chinese Restaurant you will most likely be eating a Cantonese style meal. The recipes are often not the most authentic and are Cantonese cuisine adapted for Western tastes, which is a huge shame as Cantonese is revered in China as one of the most celebrated national styles of cooking. In the eighteenth century, the Qing Dynasty allowed the Guangdong region, home to the Cantonese, to be opened to the first foreign traders and natives from the area were amongst the first immigrants to settle in the United Kingdom and America exporting their traditions and food.

Cantonese Pork

Cantonese cuisine is all about simple dishes, letting the flavour of the key ingredients stand out, using fish and seafood from the region’s coast and the abundant agricultural produce.  The key additional flavours in Cantonese cooking are the ‘trinity’ of scallions or spring onions, ginger and garlic, with the addition of rice wine and soy sauce. Spices and herbs are only used in moderation although fresh coriander is used as a garnish, perhaps the most popular is Chinese Five Spice. The key method of cooking is stir-frying in a wok.

The most abused Cantonese recipe is the probably Sweet and Sour with cannon ball sized lumps of stodgy, deep-fried dough floating in over-sweet, violent orange coloured, gloopy sauces and don’t even get me started on pineapple.  The following recipe is I hope a little more authentic and delicate, although I am not so sure about the fried egg, I had this in a great little restaurant in China Town, and it is a delicious addition! The joy of many, but not quite all, Chinese recipes is they are very quick and easy and once you have a few key staples in your cupboard you have any number of dishes available to you. Enjoy.

Cantonese ( Sweet and Sour ) Pork                                   serves 4

1 Carrot, peeled and cut into fine strips

1 Red Pepper, diced

A small bunch of Spring Onions, washed and very finely sliced

1 small Red Chilli, finely sliced ( you can omit this but I like a little kick of Chilli )

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

½ piece of Ginger, peeled and finely chopped

A good pinch of Chinese Five Spice

2 Cloves

1 tablespoon Corn Flour ( approximately )

100 ml quality chicken stock

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Soft Brown Sugar

2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoon Rice Wine

1 tablespoon Tomato Paste

1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce

A small bunch of Coriander to Garnish

for the fried Pork
500 gr Pork Loin, skin removed, washed and diced

2 Egg Whites

Juice of 1 Lemon

60 gr  Cornflour

Sea Salt and Cayenne Pepper

1.5 litres Vegetable Oil

For the sauce heat the vegetable oil in a wok and stir-fry the carrots, garlic and ginger for two to three minutes then add the pepper. In a small pan, heat the chicken stock, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, cloves and Chinese five spice and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes then thicken with the cornflour mixed with a little water and the tomato puree. After another five minutes simmering, strain into the wok and set on a very low heat.

For the pork, sieve the cornflour into a large bowl and add a generous amount of salt and cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites and lemon juice. Then dip the pork cubes into the corn flour, the egg whites and back into the corn flour. In your wok or a large heavy bottomed pan heat the oil to 160°C / 320 F using a thermometer to check. If you do not have a thermometer have a few cubes of stale white bread to hand. Place in a bread cube in the oil if it rises to the surface and cooks to a golden brown in a couple of minutes the oil is hot enough.

Fry the pork in batches carefully lowering into the hot oil, for around six to eight minutes or until the batter is crisp and golden, turning from time to time with a large slotted spoon. When the pork is cooked using the slotted spoon remove from the hot oil, drain on kitchen paper and keep hot in a warm oven. When all the pork is cooked place into the hot sauce with the finely sliced spring onions. Stir and then serve with steamed rice and garnish with fresh coriander ( add an egg if you are feeling adventurous ).

Cantonese Crab and Sweetcorn Soup

For the first of our cookery school Chinese Masterclass recipes, I am giving you a personal favourite of mine, a classic Chinese recipe, Crab and Sweetcorn Soup. This soup is found in Chinese restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and some Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is best to view most authentic Chinese soups as highly flavoured, aromatic broths and it is important to note that in Chinese kitchens they take as much care in their cooking as we in western kitchens devote to good stocks and much-celebrated consommés. This does not mean however that this is a complicated or indeed difficult dish. In fact, this is an incredibly easy recipe resulting in a fantastically tasty soup using brilliant local seafood. Enjoy.

Crab and Sweetcorn Soup 15-03-2017

The recipe calls for a fish or chicken stock which you can make yourself, you can, however, achieve excellent results with a good quality stock purchased from your local Deli or supermarket, try to source one that is jelly like in consistency as this will add body to the fished soup.

Cantonese Crab and Sweetcorn Soup                           serves 4

500 ml good quality Fish or Chicken Stock

300 gr cooked Sweetcorn Nibs

100 gr picked White Crab Meat

100 gr Brown Crab Meat, mashed with a fork

A small bunch of Spring Onions, finely shredded

75 ml Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

1 free-range Egg White

40 gr Ginger, peeled weight, cut into very fine strips or finely grated

2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

½ small Red Chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced ( optional )

1 Star Anise pod

Juice of one fresh Lemon

2 tablespoons cornflour

2 tablespoons light Soy Sauce

1 tablespoon Fish Sauce

Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Place the stock, sherry, soy, star anise, garlic, chilli and ginger into a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and very gently simmer for at twenty minutes. This will allow the aromatic flavours to infuse into the stock. Do not simmer longer as the stock may go bitter.

Remove from the heat and strain. Return to the pan, bring back to a simmer and thicken with the cornflour mixed with a little water. Add the sweetcorn and cook for five minutes before adding the crab and spring onions. Using a fork or two chopsticks beat the egg white in a small bowl. Stirring the soup with the fork or chopsticks slowly pour in the egg white in a thin stream. Gently heat for a further couple of minutes to thoroughly warm the crab, then correct seasoning with the fish sauce and lemon, add the coriander and serve.


New England Chowder

As with so many dishes, everyone has their favourite version of today’s recipe post and my favourite is a classic, The New England Chowder, with mussels or clams and potatoes and finished with cream, there is the Manhattan Chowder is a rich tomato based soup with more than a hint of spice and many people like Corn Chowder. There are a myriad of recipes and extra ingredients including but not exclusive to, seafood, broad beans, salami and even rum.* The chowder is thought to have started life in in French fishing boats plying their trade on the Atlantic coast and was thickened with Ships Biscuits. This tradition is still carried on as chowders are often garnished with salted crackers.


In fact, in the sixteenth century, in southwest England, chowder was a term used for a fishmonger and by the eighteenth-century cookbooks included chowder recipes. So which ever seafarers brought the recipe to New England the original dish was more likely to be a stew of freshly caught fish and ships rations, potatoes and salt pork all boiled in sea water.

By the time the dish was eaten in Moby Dick, ‘ small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazelnuts, mixed with pounded ships biscuit, salted pork ….the whole enriched with butter ’, it seems to be altogether more refined and something we could put on a table today. By 1894 a recipe published by Charles Ranhofer, a chef at the famous Delmonico’s** restaurant could be used now containing clams, pork, potato, tomatoes, and onion, flavoured with parsley and thyme and garnished with crackers. Delmonico’s is the home of the New York or Spicy Manhattan Chowder.

*Rum is an ingredient in Bermuda Fish Chowder the national dish of Bermuda

**Delmonico’s is actually the name used by a number of restaurants that have given us the Delmonico Steak, a cut of rib eye, the wedge salad and possibly invented Chicken a la king and Lobster Newberg.

While many of the chowders I’ve tried have been made with clams ( you can use tinned or frozen cockles make a good alternative ) mussels are just as good. I like to spoil my guests add some juicy prawns for good measure.

 Mussel, Salt Cod and Prawn Chowder                 serves 4 to 6

500 g firm waxy Potatoes, washed, peeled and diced

2 large pieces of Salt Cod, skinned

200 gr Pancetta lardons

500 ml pouring Cream

350 ml of quality Fish Stock

125 ml quality Dry White Wine

1 White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 Leeks, washed and finely diced

2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely diced

A good pinch of freshly ground white Pepper

Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley, Thyme and Tarragon

50 gr unsalted Butter

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

To finish

125 gr cooked peeled cocktail Prawns

1 kg scrubbed Mussels

Salted Crackers

Freshly chopped Parsley

Soak the cod overnight, changing the water at least a couple of times, remove any skin and dice. Place the pancetta into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté in the butter until cooked through and just starting to brown. Add all the vegetables, excluding the potatoes, and cook, without colouring, for five to ten minutes. Pour in the wine and the fish stock and add the pre-soaked salt cod and bouquet garni tied with string.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook on a gently simmer for thirty minutes then add the chunky diced potatoes and the cream to the pan and simmer for twenty more minutes until potatoes are soft. Stir regularly to prevent the chowder sticking. Remove bouquet garni, add the lemon juice and correct seasoning ( the soup is likely to be sufficiently salty because of the salt cod ).

In a little water steam the mussels for two to three minutes until open, remove and cool. Strain out the cooking liquor and add to chowder. You can shell the mussels in you prefer them that way. To serve reheat with cocktail prawns and mussels, cooking for three to four minutes to totally reheat the seafood, stirring to prevent the chowder sticking to the pan. Ladle carefully into a bowl and top with broken salted crackers and chopped parsley.

Bread Sauce

Bread sauce has a long pedigree stretching back to medieval spiced sauces thickened with bread and almonds. It is usually served warm as an accompaniment to roast chicken and turkey and game birds You can buy bread sauce mixes but the recipe is very simple and far nicerBread sauce is made with milk or milk and cream, butter and stale bread crumbs, flavoured with onion, cloves, bay leaf and mace or nutmeg.

Bread Sauce

Bread Sauce sufficient for a large Roast Bird

½ day-old Loaf of unsliced White Bread

500 ml Full Fat Milk

1 Small Onion, peeled

2 Cloves

2 Blades of Mace

6 White Peppercorns

½ teaspoon Sea Salt

30 gr Butter

2 tablespoon Double Cream

¼ teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

Remove the crust from the bread and cut the bread into half inch cubes. Set a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan over a moderate heat and add the milk. Make a cloute from the onion, bay leaf and cloves and place in the milk with the peppercorns, mace, and salt. Bring up to the boil and remove from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and let the ingredients infuse for at least half an hour. You can infuse the milk for several hours so this stage can be prepared well in advance of the actual serving time.

After the milk has infused, strain into a second pan and place back on a very low heat. Add the bread to the saucepan and cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring every now and then, by which time the sauce should have become thick and warm. Immediately before serving add the butter to the saucepan and stir until the butter has melted and combined with the sauce. Add the cream, nutmeg and correct the seasoning if required and serve in a warm sauceboat.