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Recipes from Brentor

A lot of Brentor's social life revolves around cooking and eating with friends. These recipes are all provided by Brentor residents.  No doubt many have been adapted and improved as the years pass.  They are reminders of residents past and present, and of many good times around the table, as well as being household favourites. If you live in Brentor, or have lived here, why not add to these recipes?  Please email your contributions to the editor using the form at the bottom of the page.

The Brentor Recipes

Bangers and Mash 2010

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A lot of Brentor's social life revolves around cooking and eating with friends. These recipes are all provided by Brentor residents.  No doubt many have been adapted and improved as the years pass.  They are reminders of residents past and present, and of many good times around the table, as well as being household favourites. 

Click on the links below to jump to the recipe of your choice

Parsnip Soup
Bakewell Tart
Easy Cookies
Grandma America's Coffee Cake
Moli – Burmese Spiced Fish
Chocolate Tiffin
Vegan Shepherd's Pie

If you live in Brentor, or have lived here, why not add to these recipes?  Please email your contributions to the editor, Colin Dawes, at .

Parsnip Soup from Sue Rhodes
Sue and Eric Rhodes lived at The Station House until 2015, and Sue's superb parsnip soup, made on her Aga, became a regular on the menu of many village events such as the Village Show..........

2oz   butter
1 tablespoon  sunflower oil
1lb  parsnips, cubed
1   fat clove garlic, crushed
1   onion chopped
1oz  flour
1 rounded teaspoon  curry powder
2 pints   good stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To garnish; ¼ pint single cream, a few snipped chives

Enjoying Sue's soup at the Old Station after a village walk

Heat the butter and oil in a deep pan and add the parsnips, garlic and onion and fry gently on the simmer plate for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the flour and the curry powder and cook for a minute, then add the stock and seasoning and bring to the boil, stirring.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place pan in a slow oven and leave to cook for about 40 minutes until the parsnips are tender.

Reduce the soup to a puree in a processor or blender then return to the pan.  Reheat and taste to check seasoning.

Serve with a swirl of cream and a few snipped chives sprinkled on top.

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Bakewell Tart from Colin Dawes
This is adapted from an old Mrs Beeton recipe.  It’s been a great hit when made for events at the Village Hall!   The breadcrumbs in the frangipane make it economical but also give the topping added texture.

6oz  plain flour
1oz  white fat
2oz  butter
Cold water to mix

1/2 lb   raspberry jam

4oz   butter, softened
4oz   caster sugar
2   large eggs
4oz   fine white or brown breadcrumbs
4oz   ground almonds
1tsp   almond extract

Oven 200ºC (190ºC fan)

Mix the pastry by hand or using a food processor and use it to line a deep 8 inch flan tin.
Cover the base of the tart with a generous layer of the jam. (Raspberry jam is the traditional one to use, but you will find that other varieties, such as gooseberry or blackcurrant are equally good).

Cream the butter and sugar together until it becomes pale and light, then add the almond extract and the eggs one at a time and beat everything together until fluffy.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and ground almonds and then carefully spread the topping over the jam, making sure to seal it to the pastry case.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until topping is browned and firm. Turn out the tart from the tin when it has cooled a little.

Serve cold or warm.  Good with plain yogurt, cream or custard.

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Easy Cookies from Sue Fraser
This recipe comes from a Canadian cook book we were given by one of John's Canadian cousins when we got married.  It's called 'The Best of Bridge - Royal Treats for Entertaining' and makes me laugh every time I open it - mainly due to the picture inside the front cover of seven wholesome-looking ladies dressed in crisp white shirts with red tartan frilly aprons - but also because under each recipe is a 'funny' such as 'married life is like sitting in a bathtub .....after a while, it's not so hot' and other such pearls of wisdom.  Eve, Johns' cousin, told us that 'every mother in Canada' owns a copy of this book.

The recipe I have used most over the past 20+ years is the one for easy cookies called 'Mona's mother's mother's best friends's favorite'.  It's the first (and possibly only) recipe that my sons could easily 'help' with when they were very little - it's very easy, very quick, very messy (=fun) and the results are good too.

1 cup    white sugar
1/2 cup   brown sugar
1  egg
1 cup   butter
1 ¼ cup   flour
1 ¼ cup   rolled quick oats
¾ cup   coconut
1 tsp   baking powder
1 tsp   baking soda

In a medium bowl beat the egg.  Add the butter and brown and white sugar and cream well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Squidge together in the small of the hand to form golf balls - flatten lightly on a greased baking tray.

Bake at 350°F/180°C for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

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Grandma America's Coffee Cake from Pat Blower
Pat and Rick Blower lived in Brentor for 30 years and moved to Exminster in 2015.  Pat was born in the USA and says……
"Although this is called a coffee cake, coffee is not an ingredient, but it refers to eating the cake with a cup of coffee!
I have called it Grandma America’s Coffee cake because I think of my mother when I make this, and my boys used to call her Grandma America.   It is a quick, easy and versatile bake that always works for me!"

For the cake: 
1 cup   plain flour
1 teaspoon    salt
1 teaspoon    baking powder
½ cup    granulated sugar
1/3 cup    melted butter or margarine
2   eggs
A bit of milk
For the topping:
½ cup   white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon    cinnamon
1 tablespoon    butter

Break the two eggs into the melted butter, put into a cup and add the milk to fill and stir with a fork.  In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients together and add the milk mixture.  Beat altogether and pour into a greased tin.

Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the cake mixture.

Optional - Top with sliced fruit such as apples, nectarines or peaches and sprinkle the topping over these.

Bake at 190°C/375°F for about 30 minutes.

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Moli – Burmese Spiced Fish from Elizabeth Wheeler
This recipe was given to me many years ago by a friend who spent the early years of her marriage living in Singapore.  It has been a favourite in our house ever since, as our daughters would eat it when they were young, and so would John who likes his fish 'dressed'.
If you want the fish to stay in one piece and not break up during the initial frying in the spices be sure to buy really chunky fillets.
Serve with boiled rice and cucumber and tomato salad.
Serves 2
2 x 8oz    Cod steaks
2 tablespoons   oil
1    medium onion - chopped
1    green chilli – de-seeded and chopped finely
2   cloves garlic -  chopped
¼ teaspoon   turmeric
3ozs   creamed coconut
½ pint   hot water
Juice of  half a lemon
Fry the onion in the oil until softening,  then add the garlic, chilli and turmeric and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion browns.
Lay the fish steaks on top for a minute or two turning once.
Dissolve the creamed coconut in the hot water and pour over the fish.  Cook uncovered for 10–15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
Add salt if needed and the lemon juice - the lemon juice is essential!

Gluhwein - Colin Dawes' recipe used at Brentor Mistletoe Fair
This spiced wine has become a favourite at Brentor's Mistletoe Fair.  So many people have asked for the recipe over the years, so here it is - by popular demand!  Gluhwein is similar to mulled wine but is sweeter and uses lemons rather than oranges for its citrus flavour.

6 bottles of dry red wine
500ml water
350 - 400gm granulated sugar
Glass of brandy
Glass of rum
½ nutmeg, grated
4 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
2 unwaxed lemons, sliced

Heat all the ingredients (except the brandy and rum) together until hot, but do not allow to boil.
Remove from the heat, add the brandy and rum, leave for 30 minutes to infuse.
Reheat carefully, do not allow to boil or become too hot.  Taste and add more sugar if required.
Makes about 40 servings of approximately 125 ml.

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Chocolate tiffin (known as Chocolate Chicken) from Helen de Carles
Chocolate Chicken - rather an odd name for a sweet tray-bake, but there is a reason.  I first made this for my daughter’s 18th  birthday party.  Chinese whispers across the field, between 120 teenagers, meant that the name was delivered as Chocolate Chicken, but they ate it anyway.  The name seems to have stuck.
(Suitable for vegetarians!)
You can alter the exact ingredients for this recipe – i.e. at Christmas I use cranberries, ginger biscuits, dark chocolate and maybe some alcohol even.  Literally add anything to this recipe – use granola for a “healthy” version,  vary the fruit and biscuit content or the chocolate combo, to make it your own.
Below is the recipe for standard version.  The quantities are pretty vague, so do not worry if you do not have exact amounts  -  it is very forgiving.

4 x 200g bars of milk or dark chocolate (or a mixture) – use good quality - cheap makes it taste nasty
300g digestive biscuits or other biscuits of choice.
1 pack unsalted butter  (or a large tin of condensed milk)
200g dried fruit – any combination – sultanas or chopped apricots are nice
200g chopped nuts  - this is optional – just add more fruit or biscuits if not using
2 or 3 shots of alcohol of choice (optional)

Line a  baking tray or pie dish with foil or cling film – use a large one to spread thinly or a smaller one to get thicker pieces.
Smash the biscuits with a rolling pin into tiny pieces (not to crumbs though).
Mix the dried fruit, nuts and biscuits pieces in a large mixing bowl.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over hot water.  Beat well together, adding alcohol if using.
Addthe  melted chocolate mixture to biscuit crumb mixture and combine well, pour into a baking tray and decorate the top if desired (sprinkles, grated chocolate, raspberries …..).
Chill for at least 2 hours and cut with a sharp knife into whatever size pieces you require.
This freezes really well.   Enjoy!

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Vegan Shepherd’s Piefrom Sue Fraser

Sue had to cook a vegan meal for visiting Villages in Action actors and found this recipe.  She says that it is really simple and quick to make.  Even her carnivorous husband really like it!

500g                           small potatoes
15g                             flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp                          olive oil
1                                  onion, finely chopped
625g                           mushrooms (closed cup)
2                                  garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ tsp                           crushed chillies
250g                           ready-to-eat puy lentils
400g                           tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp                         tomato purée

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 10-15 mins until tender, then drain. Season with salt and pepper then lightly crush with a potato masher or fork. Stir in half the parsley.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onion and cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly, for 2-3 mins. Add the mushrooms and fry for 7-8 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the garlic, crushed chillies, lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and 250ml water. Simmer for 8-10 mins or until the sauce has thickened, then add the remaining parsley. Adjust the seasoning.

Preheat the grill to high.

Tip the lentil and mushroom mix into a baking dish, then spoon over the crushed potatoes. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and grill for 8-10 mins until the potatoes are golden.

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Truffes au chocolat de Maman from Rosine Arnold

This is my mother’s recipe. She only used it just before Christmas, every year, without fail. As soon as one batch had been devoured, she would make another one until Twelfth Night (La Fête des Rois). The truffles had to be kept in a cool place (the cellar, before we had a fridge in 1958!), the serving dish was passed around and had to be put back in the cool straight away, no argument!

For about 30 truffles (walnut size) or 24 large ones:

200g dark chocolate in small pieces
100g unsalted butter
4 tbsp crème fraîche
120g icing sugar, sifted
100g cocoa powder

Place the butter, cream and chocolate in a bowl. Sit the bowl on top of a saucepan containing simmering water. When all ingredients look melted, lift the bowl, mix well and add the sifted icing sugar, a small amount at a time. Mix well.

Cover with a plate/saucer and keep in the fridge for 24h.

Now for the tricky stage… Put a pinny on, wash and dry your hands. Prepare a saucer with cocoa powder next to your bowl, scoop out some mixture with a teaspoon and shape truffles with (cool!) hands. It is a sticky job! If the mixture becomes too soft, stop and put it back in the fridge for an hour.
Roll the truffles in the cocoa powder, put them in small paper cases and store them in a container. Cover and keep cool.

Make as many or as few as you like, the mixture will keep as long as the crème fraîche will.

The flavour of your truffles will depend on the quality of the ingredients.

Licking your fingers is encouraged, but only when the job is finished!

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