Showing posts from March, 2022

Easter Simnel

We associate the simnel cake with Easter, and now is the best time to get one made, so it has time to mature. It's one of the highlights of my baking (and eating) year - a cake so loaded with my favourite ingredients that I could eat it morning, noon and night. Simnel cake wasn't always so strictly seasonal. True enough, it has always been seen as a cake for special occasions, but the practice of eating it at Easter has its origin in tax and rent regulations. The fourth Sunday in Lent was the day the local churches paid their dues to the "mother" church of their area, and the suffragan sees to their metropolitan see. That's a lot of money moving around, and it needed people to physically transport it. We didn't have BACS back then. The task was not entrusted to poor parish clergy, but to local landowners. Perhaps they thought the wealthy would be less tempted to help themselves. With the landowner (and usually his wife) away for the weekend, the servants were

Are You Being Ripped-Off?

How much??? I've been meaning to write this for a while now. Unfortunately, the business of earning money sometimes gets in the way of the pleasures of writing, and what I need to say is a bit negative. I'll try to be as positive as possible. The fashion for cocktails took off during the period of Prohibition in the US. While organised criminals monopolised the supply of illegal hooch, wealthy Americans travelled to Europe, London in particular, in search of alcohol. Bringing with them a taste for mixed drinks, they triggered a boom in cocktail creating in the higher-end London hotels and bars. Bar tenders like the two Harrys - MacElhone and Craddock - became superstars overnight. They established the canon of classic cocktails and popularised many drinks that are still served a century later. Turn to their published bar books for the definitive recipes for Pink Lady, Sweet Manhattan, French 75 and Rob Roy cocktails. One thing you notice about the old books is how strong the dr