Travel + Recipe: English Favorites
English food will forever hold a special place in my heart. When I studied abroad at Middlesex University in London in 2012, I absolutely hated the food served at school (granted, it was school food) and ate a ton of Tesco sandwiches and Pret A Manger salads to fill in the gaps. But now, having married an Englishman and spent many more weeks in the UK, I’ve come to appreciate its simplicity, quirkiness and appeal.
As a vegetarian, I obviously steer clear of the likes of bangers & mash, blood pudding and sausage rolls. But egg & cress, Ploughman’s sandwiches, Heinz beans, mushy peas, pasties, HP sauce and Blue Stilton are my jam.
After our blessing ceremony at All Saints Church in Shelsley Beauchamp, Worcestershire, we had a small reception at Ed’s Aunt Jill and Uncle Neil’s house in Shrawley, just a short drive down the curvy Malvern Hills road. To make things easier on everyone, we pre-ordered the food at M&S Food in Worcester, and Neil picked it up the day before. Absolute dream selection: mini fresh fruit tartlets, mini quiches, savoury rolls and a meat sandwich selection for those types. But the best part was the vegetarian sandwich finger platter: Cheddar Ploughman's; cheese and onion; egg, tomato and salad cream; Wensleydale and caramelised carrot chutney plus egg and watercress.
Egg and cress and Ploughman’s are my too favorite sandwiches, perhaps ever. Egg and cress, simply enough, is made from boiled eggs, mayo and watercress. Ploughman’s is a super traditional English sandwich of malted brown bread, mature cheddar (it’s yellow, not orange like American cheddar), lettuce, tomato and Branston pickles. Branston pickles, unbeknownst to some, isn’t anything like American sandwich pickles; it’s a chutney made of various diced veggies, vinegar, sugar and spices. It’s definitely more sweet than it is sour and acts like a tasty spread.
Auntie Jilly, though, had one question for us: had we considered a cheese cake? Sweet cheesecake it was not; “cake” made from stacked wheels of cheese was what she meant. Um, no Jilly, didn’t even know though was an option, but definitely doing it now! Jilly found a company called The Cheese Shed that allows you to virtually build your own cheese cake, and we had a blast experimenting with different combos. In the end, we went with Cornish Brie as the base, Godminster Cheddar as a thick third layer, Rustic Garlic & Chives in the middle and Rosary (a creamy goat’s cheese) at the top. Ed and I both agreed that the Godminster Cheddar was the best thing we’d ever put in our mouths; no other cheese will ever live up to its rich, sharp, pungent, cheesy goodness.
While I mourn that fact the Godminster only ships to mainland UK addresses, you can peruse a few favorite English recipes below. Egg and cress sandwiches, along with mushy peas and creamy mashed carrots, make for the perfect easy summertime lunch or dinner. Recipes for the veggies both come straight from Tesco magazine!
EGG & CRESS / INGREDIENTS & RECIPE
8 large eggs
5 T. mayonnaise
Malted brown bread
Boil and peel eggs. Mash with fork and stir in mayonnaise. Pile on top of sliced and buttered toast. Top with cress.
MUSHY PEAS / INGREDIENTS & RECIPE
Boil bag of frozen peas. Drain and saute in a pan with olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice over low heat. Leave to infuse for five minutes. Mash peas, then strain and mix in additional oil. Top with mint leaves and more lemon zest.
CARROT MASH / INGREDIENTS & RECIPE
4 garlic cloves
Boil carrots with peeled garlic for 20 minutes. Drain, mash and mix with ricotta, dill and 1/4 t. nutmeg.