An extract from Memoirs from Mrs Hudson's Kitchen;
“Her cuisine is a little limited, but she has as good an idea of breakfast as a Scotchwoman.”
― Sherlock Holmes in “The Naval Treaty”
The English breakfast owes much to the Scots. They eat more substantial breakfasts than the English, Welsh or Irish. Scottish influence is evident every time one eats porridge, kippers, sausage or marmalade, which was first produced in the 1790s by Keiller of Dundee. I always provide a hearty meal for Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, for it may be the only sustenance they have for a protracted period of time.
My two gentlemen enjoy upper-class Victorian breakfasts when working for well-to-do clients. Such meals include, at minimum, fruit and porridge; cold tomatoes and ham; fancy rolls; assorted jams and marmalades; bacon; sausages and mushrooms; boiled, fried and scrambled eggs; toast; kedgeree; kidneys and broiled kippers, plus tea and coffee. The middle classes enjoy a more traditional English breakfast consisting of bacon, sausage, fried eggs, fried bread, fried potatoes and grilled tomatoes. Colonel Arthur R. Kenney-Herbert wrote a very good cookery book, Fifty Breakfasts, in 1894 for middle-class families of six. This book, I am told, is still available today for those who want to order it and enjoy a Victorian breakfast. Kenney-Herbert, who wrote under the pseudonym of Wyvern, also wrote about Indian cookery. I wonder if Dr. Watson ever met him?
Crumpets – Makes 10 - 12
Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. fast-acting yeast granules, 2/3 cup of whole milk, oil for greasing, scant 1 cup water (about 7 oz.)
Mode: Sift the flour, salt, baking soda into a bowl and stir in the yeast. Make a well in the centre. Heat the milk with scant cup of water until lukewarm and pour into the well. Mix well with whisk or wooden spoon, beating vigorously to make a thick, smooth batter. Cover and leave in a warm space for about 1 hour until the mixture has a spongy texture. Heat a griddle or heavy frying pan. Lightly oil the hot surface and the inside of 3 or 4 metal rings, each measuring 3 ½ inches in diameter. Place the oiled rings on the hot surface and leave 1-2 minutes until hot. Spoon the batter into the rings to a depth of about ½ inch. Cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes until the top surface is set and bubbles have burst open to make holes. When set, carefully lift off the metal rings and flip the crumpets over, cooking the second side for just 1 minute until lightly browned. Lift off and cool completely on wire rack. Repeat with the remaining crumpet mixture. Just before serving, toast the crumpets on both sides and butter generously.
Mushrooms on Toast – Serves 2
Ingredients: 9 oz. white button mushrooms, 1 tsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. butter plus extra for spreading, 4 Tbsp. heavy cream, freshly grated nutmeg, 2 thick slices of bread, chopped chives or parsley for garnish, salt and ground fresh pepper
Mode: Clean and trim mushrooms and cut into thick slices. Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick pan, add the sliced mushrooms and cook quickly for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cream and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Simmer 1-2 minutes. Toast the bread and spread with butter. Top with the mushrooms, sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve.
Savoury Eggs– Serves 1-2
Ingredients: 1-2 oz. cooked bacon, chopped parsley, pepper, 2 large eggs, salt, 1 Tbsp. whole milk or cream.
Mode: Dice bacon, mix with parsley and season with pepper. For each serving, put in a small tart tin or serving dish. Beat 2 eggs with a little salt, 1 Tbsp. of milk or cream, and pour over bacon. Bake in a moderate oven until the eggs are set.
Kedgeree– Serves 4
Ingredients: ½ cup of rice, 4 large hard boiled eggs, 1lb cooked whitefish (haddock, turbot, sole, salmon or pike) or ½ white and ½ smoked haddock or salmon for a stronger flavour, 1Tbsp. butter, salt, pepper.
Mode: Cook rice until tender. Chop hard boiled eggs into small pieces. Flake fish finely and mix all together with rice and eggs. Put the mixture into a large saucepan with 1Tbsp. of butter. Cook it until thoroughly hot, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Season with salt and pepper and serve very hot. Take care not to make it too moist.
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