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Toad in the Hole


British cuisine has always been multicultural, a pot pourri of eclectic styles. In ancient times influenced by the Romans and in medieval times the French. When the Frankish Normans invaded, they brought with them the spices of the east: cinnamon, saffron, mace, nutmeg, pepper, ginger. Sugar came to England at that time, and was considered a spice -- rare and expensive.

Before the arrival of cane sugars, honey and fruit juices were the only sweeteners. The few Medieval cookery books that remain record dishes that use every spice in the larder, and chefs across Europe saw their task to be the almost alchemical transformation of raw ingredients into something entirely new (for centuries the English aristocracy ate French food) which they felt distinguished them from the peasants.
During Victorian times good old British stodge mixed with exotic spices from all over the Empire. And today despite being part of Europe we've kept up our links with the countries of the former British Empire, now united under the Commonwealth.
One of the benefits of having an empire is that we did learn quite a bit from the colonies. From East Asia (China) we adopted tea (and exported the habit to India), and from India we adopted curry-style spicing, we even developed a line of spicy sauces including ketchup, mint sauce, Worcestershire sauce and deviled sauce to indulge these tastes. Today it would be fair to say that curry has become a national dish.
Among English cakes and pastries, many are tied to the various religious holidays of the year. Hot Cross Buns are eaten on Good Friday, Simnel Cake is for Mothering Sunday, Plum Pudding for Christmas, and Twelfth Night Cake for Epiphany.
Unfortunately a great deal of damage was done to British cuisine during the two world wars. Britain is an island and supplies of many goods became short. The war effort used up goods and services and so less were left over for private people to consume. Ships importing food stuffs had to travel in convoys and so they could make fewer journeys. During the second world war food rationing began in January 1940 and was lifted only gradually after the war.
The British tradition of stews, pies and breads, according to the taste buds of the rest of the world, went into terminal decline. What was best in England was only that which showed the influence of France, and so English food let itself become a gastronomic joke and the French art of Nouvell Cuisine was adopted.
 

Toad in the Hole

Prepare a Yorkshire Pudding batter:
¼ cup of bacon dripping
½ cup milk
1 egg, well-beaten
½ cup sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

 Preperation

Fry sausages and lay them in the batter. Bake as for yorkshire pudding:
Temp: 450º F Time: 10 - 15 min. If you use a glass pie plate turn the heat down 25°F.
Detailed directions
Combine a well-beaten egg and milk; beat till light. Gradually beat in sifted flour and salt; beat with dover beater till smooth. Let stand 30 minutes.
Put about 2 tablespoons bacon dripping into pan or divided up between 6 large muffin tins or into an 8"x8" pan. Heat in oven, make sure you watch pan as it will start to smoke! Pour batter into hot pan; and lay in your sausages. Serves 4.
The trick is the hot fat and the hot oven. Don't keep opening the oven to check. Serve immediately as it will deflate as it gets cold. Pour nice beef gravy over top.
Serve with Mash Potatoes, Marrowfat Peas and Gravy
 

 British Culture, British Customs and British Traditions
Recipe suggested by John Tracey.
 

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