What is Taste of the Past?

Taste of the Past is where I share my love of traditional cookery. Recipes from the days before TV dinners and microwaves right down the ages to the earliest cook books that I can get my hands on. I hope you enjoy my experiments as much as I do. Please share your own ideas, efforts and feedback in the comments.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Glebe Farm Gluten Free Bread

Every few months I get a request for gluten free baking.  It doesn't happen very often but it is getting more frequent.  So I thought it was time for a proper look at GF bread.

Last year I had some GF relatives staying and I made them Doves Farm Brown Bread Mix which I must say made a very good loaf of bread, once I had tweaked the recipe a little.  Unfortunately I wasn't in a planning ahead sort of mood and I didn't take any pictures.
This year I have someone on a bread course who needs GF bread.  It would be a bit embarrassing to serve something out of a supermarket packet and so I have been trying out some different packets of bread mix to see what happens.

Today was the turn of Glebe Farm. 

 (My review is intentionally a bit picky because I want it to be useful to other people.  Overall I would say that I like this product and would recommend it to other people.)

The first time I make any recipe I do actually follow the instructions.  Admittedly I usually then alter them a lot and it is pretty rare that I don't make some minor changes.  Actually most people should take a closer look at all recipe times and temperatures if nothing else as all oven vary.  Making small experiments could radically alter the quality of your baking.

But I digress.

What I want to say is that I followed the recipe on the back of the packet.  It makes a thick but runny batter that is a bit prone to lumpiness.  You do have to give it a really really good stir to get the lumps out.  The instructions say to leave to rise for 20 minutes before cooking. 

 After 20 minutes mine had done nothing.  (I put a small pencil mark on the lining paper to check this.)  In the end I left it for about an hour and half (due to school run) and it had rise about 1 inch.  
At this point I popped it in the oven for the 25 minutes recommended.  When it came out the tap on the bottom sounded a bit "damp" so I popped it back in for another 5 minutes without the tin.

I hope that from the photo you can see that it has a lovely, open texture.  It is definitely light and airy The crust is quite good, although a bit crackled.  This certainly does not detract from the overall quality of the bread.  

Flavour wise it does taste a bit strange on its own.  It also has a noticeable aroma, nothing bad, just not what I am used to as a bread smell.  However, once you have added jam (blackcurrant in this case)  it tastes just fine.  I have also tried it with my favourite oil and salt dipping mix and it did well. 

Overall, if I had to give up real bread tomorrow then I would be happy to live on this as a substitute and it tastes far better than any GF bread product I have tasted from a supermarket packet.  It was easy to make and the only change I would make to the packet instructions would be to add that you might need longer for the bread to rise depending on the temperature of your kitchen.   


My family really enjoyed this for breakfast this morning and it made very good toast.
Glebe Farm can be contacted via their website which is:

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Leek, Potato and Pea Soup


A while ago I finally set up a Twitter account, mainly because I needed to actually get serious about advertising my bread making courses and also to see what everyone else was talking about.  One friend summed it up as, "Facebook is everyone sharing pictures of cats, Twitter is everyone sharing pictures of cakes."  Right up my street then. 

Being on Twitter has had two positive outcomes, first of all the need to feed the ever hungry internet information beast has finally given me the kick up the proverbial I needed to start writing again and also I have found some interesting new recipes and foody ideas.  

One of these foody ideas is Meat Free Mondays.  There is nothing like having to feed small children to make you look at your diet and decide that improvements have to be made.  You can no longer get away with munching a bowl of cereal in front of the TV on an evening just because you can't be bothered and you can no longer get away with ignoring vegetables,  If you try to then the ever present parent guilt centre of your brain will light up and prod you into action or send you to the nearest chocolate bar.  

To combat this I have been trying to cook more vegetarian food.  Luckily my kids like veg, my husband likes veg and I like it too, I just get fed up with all the peeling sometimes.  The real difficulty comes in finding good recipes.   Yes, there are meat free alternatives to most meat products available but they are quite expensive, tend to be a bit dry (to my personal taste) and vegetarian bacon!  That is a reason all in itself.  If you have never experienced vegetarian bacon then you are in for, well, an experience.

All this preamble serves as an introduction to my latest favourite recipe, Leek, Potato and Pea Soup. This comes from 1000 Recipes, a small but weighty cook book that was my Mum's favourite and is now mine.  Old fashioned, no pictures and lots of assumed knowledge but the best kitchen stand by I have, even, dare I say, more often consulted than Delia.

The beauty of this recipe is that if you eat it with whole meal bread then the peas and wheat combine together to give you a full range of proteins in one meal.  This makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians.  Vitamin C from the potato and plenty of greens from the peas and leeks.  

I know that I haven't specified quantities because it all depends on whether you want it to taste of peas, leeks or potatoes the most.  For those that would like guidance I recommend 2 medium leeks to 1 potato and 3 tablespoons of peas.  Add a good pinch of stock powder and 1 sprig of mint.

Leek, Potato and Pea Soup

Chop some leeks and heat in a pan on a low heat, the idea is to sweat them, rather than brown them.
Dice some potatoes and add them to the pan.
Cover the pan and let the veg sweat for 10 to 15 minutes.  Really the longer the better here. 
Boil some water and some vegetarian stock, following the instructions on the pack. 
Once the leeks are soft add the water and stock to the pan.
Stir and leave it to come up to a simmer. 
Simmer for around ten minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Add the peas and some mint (fresh or dried both work here) and put the lid on and wait for the soup to come back up to the boil.
Once it has come to the boil a second time it will be cooked.
Turn off the heat and allow to cook a little.
To get a smooth consistency you can use a liquidizer, food processor or similar.  You can even just use a potato masher but this will leave the leeks in one piece.  Which is fine if you like them like that or you chopped them up small to begin with.

Enjoy with some bread and let me know if you try the recipe out please. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Allotment Pie

This random assortment of food all started out with me wanting to cook something where I could say, "I grew this, well all the bits that are grown."  The result was a new take on an old favourite.  I have seen it called homity pie in Devon and Cornwall where it is made with potatoes, cheddar, friend onions and (optionally) bacon in a pastry case or some  people just call it cheese pie.

Boiled potatoes
Beans, peas or both (cooked)
Any other veg you fancy throwing in
Fried onions
A block of feta cheese
Dried mint, if you like it.

Mix the cooked veg
Crumble up the feta
Sprinkle over the mint
Stir it up a bit but you want a good bit of the cheese near the top 
Pop into an oven at 180 degrees for around 15 minutes until the top is a nice crispy brown in places and the rest it nicely heated through.
If you are sure that all your ingredients are hot when you mix everything together then you can get away with putting it under the grill.

Other Ideas

You might have noticed that this is a great left over meal. Prepare and cook extra veg with a meal one day, mix with fried onions, feta and herbs for a second meal the next.

It would also work using some frozen mixed veg and tinned sweetcorn.

Frozen spinach or kale could be crumbled in as well, if you are trying to increase you veg quota.  Both work really well with feta.

Feel free to use the veg that you like!

Lastly, let me know if you try it out and what you think please?

Easy Home Meals


The world is full of cake recipes, nearly as many as there are posts on the evils of sugar.  Some days I feel like my lively hood is based on peddling poisons and contributing to net world unhappiness.  So I thought it was time for a new series of recipes and posts, this time focussing on a subject that is much closer to my heart and much better for my own state of mental well being, namely, quick, easy and healthy dinners.

In these recipes I want to inspire people to cook real food from scratch.  In a time when most people get home late, often with hungry children in tow, it is easy to understand why we all reach for pre-prepared food that just needs popping in the oven.  Don't get me wrong here, I am not some sort of domestic goddess, I personally think that every house should keep some instant food in the freezer as a sound basis for stress free living.

However, there are also some things you can cook and the secret to doing this is being brave enough to throw away the recipe book.  Seriously, most foods do not need a recipe book or scales.  Half the time you don't have the right ingredients anyway or you family hates some key aspect.

I am hoping that people will take these recipes and make them their own.  If nothing else this will serve me as a list of "things I can cook" for days when I run out of ideas as well.

Lastly, before I start a new post with some actual recipe in it, please send me your comments and recipes too.  We all need inspiration sometimes.