Food and Books on Saturday

by Margaret Powling-

There is nothing like a wet and windy Saturday for making me keen to get cooking.  I’d seen a recipe in last week’s Sunday Telegraph that I thought might make a good lunch dish and as it had few ingredients (I don’t like recipes with pinches of this or dollops of that, things you don’t usually stock in fridge, freezer or store cupboard and then, if you do buy them specially, they moulder away there, never to be used again) I thought I’d make it for our lunch today. 

But more of this recipe later, along with the recipe for Quiche Lorraine which I’ve been promising to post for weeks.

So, yesterday first, and the arrival not only of one of my favourite monthly magazines …

… but also a keepsake following the death of a much loved family friend last year (we were asked to choose something from her effects as a keepsake and we chose this little set of silver tea spoons, although being from the 1930s, they are much smaller than teaspoons today and would be more suitable as formal coffee spoons; coffee spoons are always smaller, for use with elegant coffee cans.)


I have photographed both the magazine and the spoons on my latest purchase, another table cloth for the kitchen table which also arrived in the post yesterday.  I also bought the matching napkins and I’ve pushed two of them through silver napkin rings, also from the 1930s.  Perhaps you can just see the initial H on them?  According to my (late) mother, these were a set of four napkin rings awarded to her youngest brother for playing cricket in the 1930s, and the H was the initial letter of her family name.



But now  the Quiche Lorraine recipe.

You need plain flour, margarine, onions, bacon, cheese, cream or milk, and eggs, and a little oil for sauteeing the onions and bacon.

I first make shortcrust pastry but you could buy some ready made if you wish (although I prefer to make my own.)  For two quiches (as above) I make 8oz (or 224grms) of pastry, which means I use 8oz of plain flour and 4oz (112grms) margarine (or you could use a mixture margarine and lard, or butter and lard.)  You know how to make pastry?  Of course you do!  Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and them use enough cold water to draw it all together into a paste, i.e. pastry.

Now wrap in cling film or foil and rest in the fridge for half an hour.    No, not you. You don’t rest in the fridge. The pastry does.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling ingredients.

I know that onions aren’t used in a traditional Quiche Lorraine, but they do add flavour.  So use a couple of large onions, peel and chop finely, and saute in a little oil.  Set them aside so that they cool, preferably on kitchen paper to absorb extra grease.

Now fry some chopped bacon in the same pan, perhaps four rashers, and similarly allow to cool on kitchen paper.

Grate cheese, I won’t give a specific amount, but you need quite a decent amount for two quiches.  I use a mixture of mature Cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan, indeed, use whatever you have to hand. Gruyere is the traditional cheese for this dish.

Whisk six large eggs with some milk and/or cream (again, using whatever you have.  If you don’t have cream, use crème fraiche.)  Use your discretion as to how much you need for two quiches, err on the side of caution otherwise the mixture will boil over and ruin the pastry and burn on the bottom of your oven, too.

Put the oven on and set it at a high temperature, around 190C – 200C.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, and divide it in two, and then roll out and line two prepared loose bottomed (if you have them) flan tins.  The better the quality of the tin,  the better the pastry will cook.  Don’t be tempted to use a porcelain flan dish, these are pretty but hopeless for baking in as porcelain isn’t as good at transferring the heat as well as metal.  Grease the tin, regardless of it perhaps being non-stick, and then line with pastry.

Now, assemble the ingredients in the raw quiches.  This is contrary to what most TV cooks/chefs will tell you.  They say you must ‘blind-bake’ the pastry cases and only then put in the ingredients.  But I’ve found that if you have a very hot oven and use good metal tins and if the pastry is very thinly rolled out, you can cut out the ‘blind-bake’ procedure.

So, once you have the thinly rolled pastry in the tins, spread the onions over the bottom of the quiches, then spread the bacon, and finally the grated cheese.  Now add the egg/milk/cream mixture.  I don’t tend to add salt and pepper as the cheese and bacon are salty enough for me, but you might like to add some, it’s just a case of personal preference. 

Now put the quiches in the oven for about 1/2 hr or until golden and the egg mixture is set and browned slightly on top.

Really, it’s all very simple.  You don’t really need an exact recipe if you are a fairly proficient cook.  If you can read this, you can make a quiche, it’s that simple.


And so to today’s cooking.  I decided to make Asparagus and Potato Tartlets according to the Sunday Telegraph recipe.  The recipe makes 6 tartlets but I have only small individual patty tins, so I made four.

You need shortcrust pastry using 100g marg or butter, 200g plain flour, and a splash of milk to mix. This will line 6 patty tins.

The other ingredients:

150g of boiled new potatoes

150g of asparagus, blanched (i.e. put into boiling water for about a minute and then drained and put into cold water)

150 ml of milk or cream

100g crème fraiche

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

20g of parmesan, grated.


Again, make shortcrust pastry, allow it to rest for 1/2 hr in the fridge and line the prepared tins (by prepared, I mean greased) and then allow the pastry in the tins to rest again in the fridge for 20 minutes. This isn’t fast food!

Heat your oven to 200C

Chop up the cooked potatoes into small chunks, slice the asparagus into 2cm lengths (no you don’t need a rule, just chop them up, not too small, not too large).

In a bowl whisk the eggs and milk/cream together.

Remove the patty tins from the fridge and fill the raw pastry  cases with the potatoes and asparagus, sprinkle on the cheese and parsley, and then pour on the egg/milk mixture.

Now bake in the oven for around 25 minutes until golden brown. I served (one each) with a salad and coleslaw.  These little tartlets can be served hot or cold. I’ve popped the remaining two into the freezer for another day.

They were very good, but I would say they have a delicate flavour.  Next time I think I will add some leeks or onions (sautéed) for extra flavour.  I served them with salad and coleslaw.

Yesterday I made a cheese loaf and a fruit loaf (below).  I’d never made a cheese loaf before, it was a recipe from a cousin and she said how good it was. Once I’d made it I realized it was really a cheese scone mixture but baked in a loaf tin. It is lovely, but next time I think I will bake it in a round Victoria sandwich tin and then score the mixture so that you end up with 8 almost-triangular portions.  The photo makes the cheese loaf look paler than it is.

The fruit loaf is the all-in-one method I’ve used many time before and very tasty it is, too.

And as well as the baking, I made a sausage casserole today as the weather has been so rainy and cold, and it was the kind of food ideal for supper on such an evening.

When cooking or baking, I like to assemble all the ingredients before I start. Here I have all the ingredients for the casserole – good quality sausages (only use good quality sausages in such a casserole otherwise it will be greasy.)  The other ingredients I use are onions, leeks, celery, a little green pepper, a couple of bay leaves, two dessert apples (cored but not peeled), a bottle of medium cider, veggie stock cubes (I use three for a casserole which has 5 large sausages – yes, there are only 5 in the packs I use but they are large and well packed with pork sausage meat, and this casserole will make two meals for the two of us.)

On the hob in a flame-proof casserole saute the sausages, onions, leeks, celery peppers, and then add the cider, stock, apples, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, and then pop on the casserole lid and cook in the oven for about an hour and a quarter.  This casserole can be served unthickened, but if you prefer the sauce to be thickened, slake some cornflower and water in a cup and then stir in to the casserole about 1/2 hr before you wish to serve it. I served this with a baked potato each (i.e. baked in their skins.)

This has been more food than books, has it not?  And so to two books which arrived this morning. I have rather over-indulged on books this week, but in mitigation none has been expensive. These are my most recent ones, they arrived this morning …

I love these kinds of books.   I have started reading How England Made the English and am really enjoying it.  It’s strange, isn’t it, but some things are obvious but they are only obvious when someone points them out to you! 

On that thought I will leave you for now. Wherever you are, I hope you have had a good Saturday and will have a lovely Sunday.

Until next time.



Margaret Powling


  1. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Very productive in the kitchen, I will be writing down the recipe for the tartlets. I always like to have all the ingredients ready before I start a recipe.

    10 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Marlene, and yes, I was very productive yesterday and the day before in the kitchen. And yes, it’s a good plan to have all the ingredients ready at the start, and also all the implements, too, and the tins prepared and so forth. I learned all this not only from my late mother but also from what in those dim and distant days were called when I was at school, “domestic science” lessons. Although I attended a girls’ grammar school, some of us (but not in the top ‘stream’) were permitted to have either needlework or domestic science lessons. I opted for domestic science and I enjoyed that very much. We were taught to organise our implements and our ingredients to start with and this has stuck with me throughout my life. Indeed, for my GCE in this subject we had to plan a menu for a family meal which would be a ‘balanced’ menu, and then we had to ‘order’ all the ingredients and write down all the equipment we would need. Anything that was missing we were not permitted to use. It was very good training for later life as this habit has stuck with me ever since. When I see some of the messy kitchen work stations on programmes such as Master Chef and Bake Off, I shudder. I think marks should be awarded for kitchen working practices and for hygiene, which is paramount. As for long hair flopping around and dangling over food – yuk!

      11 . Jun . 2017
  2. Rosemary Haines (of Rosie's Ramblings)

    I’m a newcomer to your lovely blog (but am having trouble in bookmarking it because I can’t find a ‘Home’ link or a Follow button.)
    I’ve read many of your posts now and truly admire your own beautiful home and in this latest post that photo of your table set out with that very pretty china and the new tablecloth & napkins really caught my eye . . . I’m envious!
    I have copied those two recipes and look forward to enjoying these in the near future.
    I have to confess here that I have also ordered (second-hand from Amazon) three of the books you/ve featured – can I afford to keep reading your blog???

    10 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Rosemary, and I’m so sorry you can’t find a home link or follow button. I am totally hopeless at things to do with my computer and I have tried to work out how I can do this, but so far I’ve been unable to do this. I must ask my computer man how I do this. He kindly set the blog up for me and perhaps he will be able to help me in due course.
      Thank you for your very kind comments on how much you are enjoying my blog posts! I really enjoy writing them. I must say that our home is a very ordinary 1985 dormer house or what some now call a chalet bungalow, but with three rooms in the roof space, it’s really more house than bungalow.
      Regarding the tableware, the cream coloured plates with a floral border are a 1930s dinner service which I inherited from my late mother. One of the reasons we like using it is that the plates aren’t huge. Most dinner plates today are very large and yet such large plates don’t fit into a domestic dishwasher. Having said that (sorry, cliché!) we don’t put these plates into the dishwasher, the pattern would soon be removed along with the residue of food!
      Oh dear, I hope I’ve not added too much to your book buying habit with my recommendations! I’d be interested, though, to know which books you have ordered.
      I do hope you will now look in regularly, Rosemary, even if for the moment I can’t work out how to set up a home link or follow button. I hope you enjoy the recipes!

      11 . Jun . 2017
  3. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    I never thought of making a cheese scone mixture as a loaf; what a good idea. Definitely one that I shall try. I’ve never been a fan of blind baking as it always (in my case) resulted in an overlooked crust on the edges. I found out early on that baking pastry in metal tins was a lot more successful than using a ceramic flan dish, even though I have a very nice Royal Worcester one. I make quite a lot of quiches and tarts as I love anything cheese flavoured. I like the idea of cider in the casserole too. I often add apple and a glass of wine. There is usually an open bottle in the fridge as my husband enjoys a few glasses a week. I very rarely drink alcohol.
    I do enjoy a batch cooking session but am resisting the temptation at the moment as I’m still trying to empty the freezer!
    A few years ago I bought some square plates and dishes when they were popular but we found them overly large and reverted to the old favourite cream embossed service. I have a Royal Doulton service but it rarely sees the light of day. That has given me an idea for a blog post. When I started, you did tell me that ideas would just come to me, and you were absolutely right!

    11 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, that’s such a coincidence, that ideas are just coming to you, too, Eloise! That’s how I write my blog posts. I really thought when I started last August that I would soon run out of ideas, but that has been far from the case. However, the blog has gone off in different directions – I had imagined more art, antiques, architecture – but does that really matter as long as I enjoy writing it and readers enjoy reading it?
      Both of us seldom drink wine now simply as we just don’t enjoy it. I do like a glass of beer, but I prefer a glass in a pub that has beer on draught than bottled stuff which is too gassy.
      Use your Royal Doulton service but don’t put it in the dishwasher! I think nice things should be used. Yes, we run the risk of breaking something, but if it never sees the light of day, that is just as sad. It will eventually go to someone else who will, again, perhaps use it on high days and holidays. It needs to be loved and used.
      Re blind baking, I can’t imagine restaurants and bakeries doing this – they want to get things made, out of the oven and onto the plate or sold over the counter, don’t they? No faffing with baking beans for them!

      11 . Jun . 2017
  4. Eloise at thisissixty.blog

    Haha, I’ve just realised that I referred to an overlooked pastry case in my previous post. I meant, of course, overCOOKED! I’m sure you’re right about the non-use of baking beans in bakeries and restaurants. Given Rosemarie’s comments regarding your recipies, can I suggest a repeat of your nut roast one. I have made it several times now and it is much liked.

    11 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I must’ve transposed the word in my brain, Eloise, as I read it as ‘overcooked’ … how funny is that?
      So glad you enjoyed the nut roast, we love it, too. I took this from a magazine years ago, but can’t remember which magazine it came from.

      11 . Jun . 2017
  5. Lara

    Your napkin rings and coffee spoons are very pretty. And your potato and asparagus tarts for lunch looked delicious. I’m sure that the table setting helped, too. We definitely ‘eat with our eyes’. I shudder when I see people eating in the street – eating when you walk is such a bad habit. I understand it for children and toddlers as they have such little tummies which need to be topped up but adults ? No ! And don’t get me started on drinking coffee from takeaway cups with nasty plastic lids as they hustle through the day. Vulgar ! So much nicer to sit when eating or drinking and appreciate your food.

    Our rainy long weekend continues. I have already finished one of my three library books and looking forward to starting the second. I’ve lost count of how many cups of tea (always in my favourite bone China mug given to me by my best friend) and cat is always within arm’s reach for a pat or scratch. Actually she is generally on me whenever I’m sitting. At times she makes it awkward to type 🙂

    11 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I totally agree about eating in the street, Lara, and also I think the cardboard coffee carton, much like the plastic water bottle (marginally more polite and certainly more beneficial in your hot climate), is really more a fashion accessory than anything else. It has little to do with actually coffee drinking. People carry them on the move as the subliminal message is, “Look at me, I’m so busy, I don’t have time even to sit in a café or at home and drink coffee, I have to dash off somewhere …” When I was young (violins playing!) it was considered very ill-mannered to eat in the street, the only acceptable things were fish and chips bought late on a Saturday night, and perhaps an ice cream at the seaside. You’d not have bought an ice cream and eaten it walking through the town.
      I also finished a book at the weekend and am now reading the non-fiction book How England made the English, and it’s very interesting indeed.

      12 . Jun . 2017
  6. Pieta

    Your quiches and loaves look wonderful. Thank you for the recipes. I must keep an eye out for the loaf tin liners you have; I’ve not seen them before. My mother used to make quiche for us on a Sunday night. She used shallots or spring onions for flavour. My children weren’t so keen although they all eat it now. Yesterday I made a lovely red wine beef casserole in my slow cooker and a large pot of vegetable soup which will keep us going for lunch for a few days. The sun is shining today but more rain is predicted so we’ll get out before it clouds over again.

    11 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I bought the loaf tin liners from a company in the UK called Lakeland – they sell all kinds of things to do with cooking, baking, the home. I bought an apple corer from them, and also my loaf tins and flan tins, they are much better quality than I’ve found elsewhere. We love beef in red wine as you describe, not made that for a long time though, and also my husband’s favourite soup is vegetable (not blended, but with all the veg chopped up quite small.)
      I think we are both suffering from too much rain, I think, Pieta! Our roses are all wilted and the peony (for we only have one now in our small garden), well, the flowers have simply rotted on the stems. Very sad when we wait all year to see them, and now, zilch!

      12 . Jun . 2017
  7. Jo

    Lots of lovely recipes in your post, they’re making me hungry. I’m the same, it puts me off making something if I look at the recipe and find out that there’s lots of things I need to buy just for the sake of a pinch of this or a teaspoonful of that, especially when it isn’t something I usually use.

    12 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, dear Jo! I fear that every now and again the Fanny Craddock/Julia Child/Delia in me breaks out! You will be too young to remember old Fanny Craddock who, with her husband, Johnny, taught a nation how to cook in the 1950s while wearing an evening gown. Now that would be a novel approach on Master Chef, would it not?
      Yes, recipes with loads of ingredients for which you only require a small amount are so annoying, and right away I pass them over for something simpler. I also fight shy of recipes that take a very long time to execute – it’s bad enough resting pastry in the fridge when I just want to get a tart, quiche or pie into the oven and get it baked!

      12 . Jun . 2017
  8. Margaret

    I’ve just found your blog via “down by the sea”,so refreshing and reading between the lines born in the same era with the same values.Lots of lovely recipes and I admire you for laying your table with beautiful china and tablecloths.

    18 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Margaret – perhaps our names gives our ages away! I wonder when Margaret will return to fashion, as some names have recently been returned to fashion?
      Thank you for your kind words and I’m so glad you have enjoyed my blog. I enjoy using attractive china. This isn’t to say I dislike modern crockery, only I find much of it very large and heavy. If I use a small china cup, it’s easier to hold and far more pleasant to drink from than a thick pottery mug and if the cup doesn’t hold much, I can always have a refill.

      18 . Jun . 2017
  9. Jeannine

    I have been away on vacation, just returning today. Thank you very much for posting your quiche recipe. I am anxious to try it.

    18 . Jun . 2017
    • Margaret Powling

      I hope you have had a most enjoyable vacation, Jeannine, and I also hope that you will enjoy the quiche recipe.

      18 . Jun . 2017

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