Olde English Cottage Pie v. Shepherd’s Pie.

I am often asked what the difference is between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie.  They are essentially the same recipe, except for the type of meat at the base.  Shepherd’s Pie uses minced lamb, so it has always been popular in sheep farming communities.  Cattle-rearing areas generally prefer minced beef instead, to make Cottage Pie.  Both versions are nourishing but can be rather bland.  So here is my own tasty version, developed from my Great Grandmother’s recipe to spice things up.


5lb potatoes

Pinch of salt

Knob of butter for greasing dish

1oz butter

2 tablespoons of milk

1lb lean minced meat (lamb or beef)

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 clove crushed garlic

1 finely chopped onion

3 carrots, cut into rounds

1/2 pint beef stock

6oz tomato paste

1 tablespoon mixed herbs

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4oz grated cheese

Shepherd's Pie


1.  Preheat the oven 350/ 180 /gas 4.

2.  Grease a 2-pint ovenproof dish with the knob of butter.

3.  Peel the potatoes and place in a pan of water with the pinch of salt.  Boil until soft.

4.  Heat the virgin olive oil in a large saucepan to boiling.  Add the garlic, chopped onion, and meat.  Stir until thoroughly browned.  Add the carrots.  Stir well.

5.  Slowly mix in the beef stock.  Then pour in the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.  Add the mixed herbs and stir.

6.  Reduce to a medium heat.  Cook for 20 minutes until the carrots are soft.  Remove from the stove.

7.  Drain the boiled potatoes. Mash with 1oz of butter.  Add the 2 tablespoons of milk and whisk to a creamy consistency.

8.  Place the meat mix in the ovenproof dish and spread flat.  Cover with a layer of grated cheese.

9.  Spread the mashed potato evenly over the top of the cheese, taking care to seal the edges so  that the meat will not bubble over.

10. Place the dish in the center of the oven for 20 – 30 minutes to heat through.  Brown the top layer under a high grill for 5 minutes for a crunchy topping.

Serve with fresh garden peas or sweet corn.  Enjoy!

Olde English Honey Crispels

Try this medieval recipe for a sweet, fried pastry called Honey Crispels.


8oz plain flour

4oz butter (to rub in)

1-2oz butter (as needed for frying)

pinch of salt

I egg

2-3 tablespoons cold water

8 tablespoons honey

sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon



1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut up the butter and rub in the flour until the mixture looks like large breadcrumbs.

2. Add the egg and sufficient water to bind in a dough.

3. Roll out on a floured surface to a thin pastry dough. Cut in 2-3″ circles.  (Hint: To hold more honey, fashion a small lip round the edge of each circle so there is a slight hollow in the center).

4. Heat the butter (without burning) in a large frying pan.  Fry each round of dough until crisp.  Set on the paper to drain.

5. Slowly bring the honey to a boil over a medium heat, skimming any scum from the surface.  Stir well to clarify.  Brush over the surface of each fried pastry allowing some of the mix to sit and cool in the trough.

6. Modern Version: Dust with icing sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon.

7. Enjoy warm or cold.

* This recipe makes 4-8 crispels, and they take 2-5 minutes to fry, depending on size.  Larger crispels are light and flaky.  Smaller ones tend to be crunchier.

Honey Crispels

Olde English Hotpot

Hotpot was traditionally cooked in a cauldron on an open fire.  Nowadays it’s made in a non-stick pan on the stove.



Large can of best Stewing Steak

5lbs potatoes

1lb carrots

2 large onions

2 cups beef stock

2oz butter or margarine


Black pepper


1. Peel all the vegetables.  Fry the chopped carrots and onions together in the melted butter or margarine until soft.

2.  Add the Stewing Steak.  Stir well.

3. Cut the potatoes into 1-2″ cubes and add to the pot.  Stir well.

4. Cover over the top of the potatoes with beef stock (adding more water if necessary).

5.  Bring to the boil.  Reduce to a low heat.  Simmer for 1-2 hours until the mixture is reduced and all of the vegetables are fully cooked.  Stir frequently.

Serve with red cabbage, pickled onions, mushy peas, or crusty bread.


Olde English Rabbit Stew

Rabbit Stew is a traditional Old English dish that has always been popular with country folk.



3lb chopped rabbit

1/2lb chopped bacon

2 chopped onions

1lb sliced mushrooms

1lb sliced carrots

2lb diced potatoes

 1 chopped garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2oz flour

1/2 pint red wine

1/2 pint chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon parsley

1 lemon – juice and grated rind

1/4 pint fresh cream

2 tablespoons corn starch


1.  Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

2.  Brown the bacon on high in a large pan on the stove.  Remove and drain on kitchen paper.  Keep the fat.

3.  Place the rabbit meat in the hot bacon fat and stir until evenly brown. Remove and place on kitchen paper.  Keep the fat.

  4.  Lightly brown the potatoes and carrots in the hot fat.  Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic clove.  Stir continuously for five minutes.

5.  Add the wine, chicken stock, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme.  Bring to the boil.

6.  Return the bacon and rabbit to the pan.  Reduce to a low heat.  Cover and simmer until the rabbit is tender (1 – 2 hours).

7. Remove the bay leaf.  Mix the cornstarch with a little water to form a smooth paste and stir in slowly to thicken the stew.  Add the parsley, lemon juice, and rind.  Blend in the cream just before serving.

* For a sweeter tangy stew, add 2 tablespoons of jam or marmalade with the wine and chicken stock.

Olde English Custard

Custard was used to accompany pies and puddings in the days before ice cream!  It is still very popular today, and can be served hot or cold with a variety of delectable dishes.



3oz butter

3 eggs

1/3 pint of milk or single cream

4oz sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla


1. Over a low heat melt the butter.

2. Add all the remaining ingredients and whisk continually for 8 – 10 minutes until the mixture thickens.

3. Cool slightly and place in a jug.  Serve warm.

4. For cold custard place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until set.

Olde English Bread Pudding


Bread Pud


12 slices white bread

Knob of butter

3 eggs

1/2 pint milk

4oz dried fruit ( currants, raisins, or sultanas)

4oz sugar

nutmeg or cinnamon



1. Heat the oven to 325 / 170/ Gas 3.

2. Grease a loaf tin with the knob of butter.

3. Cut the bread into triangles and place in the tin.

4. Sprinkle the dried fruit on top.

5. Whisk the eggs and milk together.

6. Add the sugar.

7. Pour over the bread.

8. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon.

9. Cook 40 – 50 minutes until golden brown.

10. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with custard, cream, or ice cream.


Olde English Summer Pudding

Summer Pudding is a delicious traditional treat to enjoy in warm weather!

 Summer Pudding


6 slices white bread with crusts removed

Knob of butter

4oz redcurrants

4oz blackcurrants

4oz blackberries

6oz sugar


1. Grease a pudding bowl with butter.

2. Line the base and sides of the bowl with 5 of the 6 bread slices.

3. Wash all the fruit and place in a pan. Add sugar.   Over a low heat stir in the  sugar to hull the fruit to a soft consistency.  Use only its own juices.  Cool.

4. Pour this mixture into the bread bowl.

5. Add the final bread slice to form a lid.

6. Cover with a saucer and add a 1-2lb weight to press the pudding into shape.

7. Place in the refrigerator to set overnight.

8. Serve with fresh cream.