Britain is a very livable place, especially outside the big cities. I have always loved wandering the towns and villages. The English, Welsh and Scottish countrysides are unbelievable, especially in summertime. All the rain and the very temperate climate creates a green that you see nowhere else (except maybe in Wisconsin in the Spring).
We continue to go over to the UK every couple of months on business. The company with whom we work is located in Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire – about two hours north of London. The villages in this area are pristine, all with great little pubs and extremely congenial people.
We have some friends who live in a nearby village called Swannington. Anita and Clive invited us to dinner for some of their “famous” green curry. We arrived at their beautiful cottage on the High Street (all villages have a High Street), and decided to walk over to the “local” (aka pub) for a pint before dinner. They, of course, knew everyone and one pint turned into two, but whatever.
Returning to the cottage we strolled their garden – all Brits are gardeners – something in the genes – while we sipped on a glass of wine and nibbled on cheese straws.
Anita started dinner with an arugula salad (they call it “rocket”). I have commented earlier that the Italians seem to use arugula almost exclusively in salad, and the Brits are close behind. She added some cherry tomatoes, a little feta cheese, a dollup of oil and vinegar y voilá.
I checked things out in the kitchen as she proudly displayed the main dish.
Curry is an integral part of British cuisine. The major cities of Britain are filled with Indian restaurants including some of the best in the world. More surprisingly, every village will typically have an Indian restaurant and most pubs offer a daily curry dish. The days of the Empire live on.
In the food stores, you can buy all sorts of curry paste in a tube or a jar. If you have read our posts on West Indian Curry, you will remember that we made our own paste, which isn’t difficult, but the paste in the tube is quite cool.
Anita’s “Famous Green Curry” is made with coconut milk, diced chicken breast, button mushrooms, and pea pods. It was delicious served over a perfectly fluffed basmati rice, along with naan and a very interesting salad.
The spicy cabbage salad was very different and perfect with the curry. She and Clive sent us the recipe, which I would like to pass on.
- 1 small white cabbage – finely shredded
- 1 red pepper – finely sliced
- 2 carrots – grated
- 1 bunch scallions or spring onion – finely chopped
- 1 cucumber – peeled, deseeded and finely cubed deseeded
- ½ cup unsalted cashew nuts – toasted
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine
Clive says, “Mix in a jug and keep tasting till it tastes rancid and then you’re there!”
For dessert, we had a traditional British dish called Eaton Mess. The London Telegraph describes it as “a sickly-sweet mixture of strawberries, meringue and cream. It dates back to at least the 19th century, and is a traditional feature of Eton College’s annual cricket game against Winchester College.” The Brits love colorful names for desserts, like Spotted Dick or Chelsea Buns. This one is really good and we were forced to have seconds.
The recipe is easy – strawberries, whipped cream and meringue. You simply make the whipped cream with a little sugar, cut the strawberries up, break up the meringue into bite size pieces and mix everything together.
You can generally find meringue at a good bakery and in larger supermarkets. It is also relatively easy to make. You simply beat egg whites with a little pinch of cream of tartar until stiff, very slowly add ¼ cup of sugar per egg white while continuing beating. Then add vanilla extract – about ½ tsp., and beat a little more.
You need baking sheets and parchment paper. Line the sheets and drop dollops onto the paper with a spoon. Use the two spoon technique where you grab a dollop with one and scrape it onto the paper with the other. You can get fancy with a pastry bag and special tips if you want, but it is not necessary for this dessert.
Bake at 225º F for 90 minutes until they are solid and not soft. Cool and put in a ziplock bag so they don’t absorb moisture.
We finished the meal with the traditional cheese tray and a glass of Port. They served English cheddar and stilton and a French double cream. What a wonderful way to finish a meal. Thanks for a wonderful time, Anita and Clive.