Scones and a Spot of Tea? – Fresh Tastes by Bev
By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB
Travelers to Britain regularly gripe about tasteless food in British restaurants. Ask chefs here about British cuisine and they’ll likely smirk, “What cuisine?” Ask folks here in America what food they associate with the British Isles, and the response is often fish and chips or perhaps a cup of tea. Let’s face it, the place doesn’t have a reputation as one of the world’s great cuisines. But one of the best kept secrets of the British is that their home cooking can be surprisingly varied, interesting, and tasty. And happily for us, many traditional British recipes are well suited for people with IC.
I first became interested in British cooking after finding quite a few bladder friendly recipes in an old Victorian-era British cookbook I have. The two most striking things about that cookbook is that virtually every imaginable part of an animal is used in some recipe, and that most of the recipes are light on the spices. The light use of spices seems typical of today’s British cooking too. Traditional British food isn’t overly rich with the hot spices and acidic fruits of say, the Caribbean, Greece, or Italy. The flavors tend to be subtle and often come from the food itself, rather than a heavy dose of a pungent (and possibly bladder irritating) spice. Cheeses and dairy foods play a big part in British cooking too. Cheddar cheese has its origins in Cheddar, England.
Spring rains in April and May nourish gardens across England and Wales. Whether they are formal Elizabethan herb gardens, or casual little cottage gardens, even in the cities people plant herbs for their kitchens. Many herbs grow exceptionally well there in the moist cool climate, and even the smallest patches of land seem to have a garden. The fresh spring herbs from kitchen gardens are wonderful for cooks. Although most of us with IC cook with dried herbs for convenience, the flavor of fresh herbs just can’t be beat.
Because Britain is an island, seafood recipes abound. Many of the rivers in Britain (as here) used to teem with salmon swimming upstream to spawn in the spring. Atlantic salmon is quite popular and its prepared in just about any way you can think of. One of my favorite British fish recipes is this one. It’s quick to put together, easy on the bladder, and best of all… it’s easy to clean up!
Salmon Baked in Herb Sauce
- 4 salmon steaks
- 4 Tbsp. butter or stick margarine, softened
- 1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
- 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 4 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 2 large pieces of aluminum foil
- Place two of the salmon steaks on each of the pieces of foil.
- In a small dish, thoroughly mix together the softened butter, salt, flour, and the chopped fresh herbs.
- Spread the herb butter on top of the salmon steaks. Fold up the foil and make a packet of each.
- Place on the center rack of a 350 degree F. oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until done.
- Carefully unwrap and let cool a minute before serving.
Low Acid Tea Anyone?
What coffee is to Americans, tea is to the British. The genteel ceremony of afternoon tea is something everyone takes time for. Typically tea is served with small sandwiches, or light sweet pastries. Many people take their tea with sugar and cream, as we would coffee. Tea has less caffeine than coffee, but it still has enough for most IC bladders to notice. Herb teas however, typically have no caffeine. The downside is that they may have vitamin C, citric acid, or acid herbs like rose hips.
I have always liked lemon tea, but these days my bladder can’t take the citric acid in most brands. I have however, discovered a great non-acid, caffeine-free herbal lemon tea that my bladder can tolerate. Davidson’s Meyer Lemon Tea is sweetened with natural dried honey and hasn’t the slightest hint of an acid bite. It’s smooth and mild as silk and perfect for an Easter brunch. (Now available for purchase in the ICN Store!).
And what would an article on British cooking be without a mention of scones? Scones are something like a sweet biscuit, often stuffed with fruit, flavored whipped cream or anything else you’d like. An Americanized version of them has become popular in coffee houses and mall eateries here. Only our scones are much bigger and more sugar-loaded. These delicious petite English scones filled with cooked pears are just the right size for a snack with our herb tea:
Coventry Pear-filled Scones
– makes 6-8
- 1/3 cup pureed pears fresh cooked, canned, or baby food pears (see note)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1-1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 4-1/2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 medium size ripe pears, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup water
For the scones:
- Mix together the pureed pears, milk, and brown sugar in a small bowl.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.
- With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles fine dry breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture.
- Mix with a spoon until it forms a dough.
- Turn out on a floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times quickly.
- Pat out to a thickness of about 3/4-inch.
- With a 2-1/2 inch cookie cutter, mark out rounds on the dough, then cut through with a knife (The dough will be quite soft so a biscuit cutter won’t work well to cut with).
- Place each round on a greased (or non-stick) baking sheet, about an inch or so apart.
- Brush the tops with egg white.
- Bake in a 425 degree F. oven for 12 to 14 minutes.
- Remove and let cool.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
- Mix the flour and sugar in a small saucepan.
- Add the raw pear slices and the water, stirring to coat the pears.
- Cook over low to medium heat until they are soft, stirring often.
- This will take about ten minutes.
- Set aside to cool off.
- To assemble, split each cooled scone with a knife and spoon in some of the cooked pears.
Note: Make sure that if you are using canned pears for the puree, they don’t have citric acid added (try Del Monte canned pear halves). A 4-oz. jar of Beech Nut baby food pears works well for the puree too but watch out for vitamin C. (You can neutralize it with a pinch of baking soda if you need to).
Traditional Prime Rib
One other feature of traditional British cooking is a heavy use of fatty substances like lard, suet, cheese, and bacon. Yorkshire pudding, typically served with beef roasts for instance, is not what Americans would call a pudding. Its more of a quick bread fried in the oven in beef drippings. In times past, the calories from the fat would be worked off in daily manual labor. But today, especially in America, most people are looking for leaner meals.
One exception seems to be prime rib. Elegant for entertaining (but expensive in restaurants here), it’s one of the easiest roasts to cook and carve at home. Many American fans of prime rib roasts are unaware that it is British in origin.
I love this authentic British recipe cooked in the original manner. The meat is seared in a very hot oven to seal in the juices and make a crisp crust, then slow cooked to a medium rare. Delicious!
Prime Rib Roast
- 1 5-lb to 6-lb prime rib roast
- 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- Rub the meat all over with the garlic and rosemary leaves.
- Then seal the meat in a large ziplock plastic bag, along with the rosemary and garlic.
- Let rest refrigerated over night, or at least 6 hours.
- Put the roast in a roasting pan and insert a meat thermometer.
- Place in a preheated 500 degree F. oven for 15 minutes.
- Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and cook until the internal temperature of the meat is 130 degrees F (This will take about anywhere from an hour to an hour and twenty minutes).
- Remove the roast and let it rest five to ten minutes before carving.