28 January 2015

The Great British Breakfast

There is a famous quote by Somerset Maugham about the British breakfast.  He said, "If you eat well in England, you must eat breakfast three time a day."  We are very fond of eating breakfast for dinner and while we do love pancakes at supper, the traditional British breakfast can top that.  While the actual items on the plate vary, breakfast usually consists of the following:

fried eggs
sausage
black or/and white pudding
bacon
mushrooms
baked beans
potatoes
toast 
tomato

A nice marmalade on the table for extra toast is a must.  In fact, this edition of The Great British Breakfast was published in association with Frank Cooper, who most probably made the marmalade on the table.

Jan Read and Maite Manjon have written a good bit about wine, food and history, but in The Great British Breakfast they take a historical view of the English breakfast.  If there was a prime period of breakfast, it was during the nineteenth century when country houses were flourishing.  During the end of the century and into the very beginnings of the twentieth century, many cookbooks were published specifically for preparing breakfast.  Some ideas for a proper breakfast for gentlemen included a menu of:

Kedgeree of Cod
Devilled Pheasant
Broiled Ham
Mutton Chops
Eggs aux Fine Herbs

While men might never pass on a breakfast option, women were much more particular and required a lighter fare such as:

Broiled Salmon
Roast Larks
Eggs

The Great British Breakfast is one of our favorite kinds of food books.  It has a bit of history, a bit of story, and some recipes all mixed together. While the English loved a scone, a slightly different version existed in Scotland.  While their potato scones featured boiled potatoes there was push for cooks to invest in a patented potato steamer.  Steamed or boiled, potatoes are the key.

Potato Scones
1 lb (450g) potatoes, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz (30g) butter or margarine
3-4 oz (80-110g) flour

Boil, drain and sieve the potatoes,  Add the salt and butter and knead into a stiff dough with as much flour as it will absorb.  Roll out to about 1/4-inch thick on a floured board, cut into triangles and prick with a fork.  Bake on a hot greased griddle for about five minutes each side until browned.

A far cry from the usual breakfast of  -- coffee!

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