Cooking with kids

In between recreating the Great Eliza Leslie recipes, I do many forms of cooking. I cook for nutritional purposes, I do office lunches , I cook for dinner parties and I also teach. I taught at The Edinburgh School of Wine for 3 years and I have trained in teaching adults, but for the moment I am teaching 2-5 year olds’ ( and their mothers) for  a course with I started this week and I am teaching a 5 week course over a few mornings and afternoons. Food is so important to understand from a young age as is the basics of cooking. It can also be a really fun afternoon for those with small kids on a rainy day, and from what I can gather small children love to eat anything that they have been involved in making.

This Week the children at the Burrow Club and I have been making Scotch eggs – simply and messily, along with little Apple Moneybags. I am amazed I managed to hold their attention, but its amazing what fun it can be to wrap a boiled egg in sausage meat, dip it in milk and cover in breadcrumbs.

It also makes for a fun birthday party…… Next week we begin again….20160219_152140



To bake or not to….

One of the things about old cook books I find most interesting is the writing. As cooks we are used to reading recipes with ingredients and measures listed, methods  with bullet points to make trying recipes quick and simple. Old recipe books are written in prose, so until you have read the whole way through you really have no idea of what it is  you are making let alone how it is done. While reading Miss Leslie’s book I started reading a recipe for Maryland biscuits. Reading through it sounded  all fairly standard, flour, salt, lard and warm milk. I then read how it needed to be kneaded and pounded with a rolling pin for 2-3 hours. This is then followed by possibly the best paragraph I have ever read in a cookery book:

This is the most laborious of cakes, and also the most unwholesome, even when made in the best manner. We do not recommend it; but there is no accounting for tastes. Children should not eat these biscuits- nor grown persons either, if they can get any other sort of bread. 

When living in town where there are bakers there is no excuse for making Maryland biscuits. Believe nobody that says they are not unwholesome. ( Miss Leslie’s new cookery book).

I love this lady and I shall take her advice, once I have given them a try….



Miss Eliza Leslie’s Cupcakes.

A couple of years ago, I found out that my great-great-great Aunt was a famous American cook called Eliza Leslie (though she was better known as Miss Leslie). I was fairly excited by this and, as the cook in the family, I was given one of her original cookery books – Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book, published in 1857. It is a book I treasure and I am now trying some of her recipes. While flicking through William Sitwells’s A History of food in 100 recipes I also discovered that the first known printed recipe for Cupcakes was by Miss Leslie from her book 75 Reciepts for pastrys, cakes and sweetmeats. 

I don’t have this book at the moment, but the cupcake recipe is, as I say, in Sitwell’s Book and for my first trial of Miss Leslie’s recipes I have decided to go with this one. So for the next little while I am going to revert to the 1800’s and try to see if Aunt Eliza’s recipes still work today… At the very least I shall have some fun in the kitchen and be quietly smug I had such a lady as an ancestor….


Five eggs

Two large teacupsfull of molasses (I used treacle)

The same of fine brown sugar

The same of fresh butter

One cup of rich milk

Five cups of flour sifted

Half a cup of powdered allspice and cloves

Half a cup of ginger.

Cut up the butter and warm in the milk


At the same time warm the treacle and stir into the milk, gradually add the sugar and leave to cool.

Beat the eggs and stir into the mixture with the flour, add the ginger and spices and mix well together. The smell here of rich treacle and spices in really amazing.



I buttered muffin tins and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.

The cakes themselves were heavy as I expected them to be (this is a very old recipe!). But they had a glorious taste of winter. The spices coming through were amazing. I had been worried it would be all cloves, but it’s definitely a recipe I will do again, though I may add some baking powder to lighten them just a little. Mini cupcakes with a cup of tea; bliss. Life can’t have been all bad in the 1850s…

Here’s how they came out: