Events, Food History, Retro Recipes, Vintage Recipes

The Big Lunch – Sunday 7th June : Invite Your Friends & Family To A Community Lunch

  • Find-out more about The Big Lunch 2015 is this short film made by the event’s organisers. Uploaded to You Tube 04.02.2015.

BL-Logopark-2015

On Sunday 7th June, 2015, the 6th annual Big Lunch takes place in communities across the world from Tuvalu to Canada . The first Big Lunch took place in 2009 and has been going from strength-to-strength ever since. In 2014, 4.83 million people took part. The original idea for the event came from the team at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Their aim was to get as many people together to have lunch with their neighbours, annually, on the first Sunday in June. The Big Lunch continues to be led by the Eden Project and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The Eden Project believe that everyone will be better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together.  The thinking behind The Big Lunch is:

  • By simply having some fun with our neighbours on one day in the summer, we can build new friendships that we can enjoy for the rest of the year;
  • The Big Lunch is a chance for neighbours from different generations and backgrounds to hear each other out and share stories, skills and interests. We call this phenomenon ‘human warming’;
  • In getting to know who you live beside we can build support networks and contacts that make communities stronger and the people in them feel better about society;
  • Big Lunch day is just the start – it’s how people work together in their communities afterwards that really makes the difference.

The Big Lunch event promotes community, friendship and fun. It is a fantastic opportunity to get to know your community better, make new friends and have a lot of laughs along the way as well as eating fantastic food and sharing recipe ideas. Here are a few useful links for The Big Lunch to help you plan a successful event:

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  • King George V’s Silver Jubilee, street party held in Blackfriars Road, London, 1935.
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  • V.E. Day street party, Park Avenue, Carlton, Nottingham 8th May, 1945.

  • Fancy having a go a 1940s themed street party or community lunch? Then you might find this short Vlog I made recently, for the V.E. Day 70th Anniversary events, a useful source of inspiration. Uploaded to You Tube 09.5. 2015.
My ration book feast created for filming V.E. Day 70th Anniversary segments with Solent TV and additionally my You Tube Vlog. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
My ration book feast created for filming V.E. Day 70th Anniversary segments with Solent TV and additionally my You Tube Vlog. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
Filming various V.E. Day inspired segments for That’s Solent TV (That’s TV) (April 2015). Topics included: rationbook recipes; make do and mend campaign & vintage fashions. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
My 1940s inspired spicy chutney recipe. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
My 1940s inspired spicy chutney recipe. ©Viva Blancmange 2014

I recently submitted my 1940s inspired recipe for Spicy Apple and Tomato Chutney to The Big Lunch’s search to find the best seasonal and/or local recipe, particularly one inspired by home-grown produce. I am thrilled to say that my recipe was chosen by a specially selected judging panel at River Cottage HQ (one of The Big Lunch’s partner organisations). My recipe features on ‘The Big Lunch’s’, click here.

The luxury hamper from The Eden Project. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
The luxury hamper of culinary goodies that I received from The Eden Project. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015

As a result, I received the most beautiful luxury hamper of local Cornish culinary products sent to me by The Eden Project. The recipe will be featured on a number of media platforms, keep an eye on my Twitter account (@emmahistorian) for further updates.

Our crop of tomatoes from last year. ©Viva Blancmange 2014
Our crop of tomatoes from last year. ©Viva Blancmange 2014

The recipe is inspired by two publications in my vintage cookery book collection, Practical Cookery for All by Blanche Anding et al (1949 edition) and Preserves for All Occasions by Alice Crang (1st edition 1944, my edition, 4th, 1953). The original recipe, from Practical Cookery for All by Blanche Anding et al (1949 edition), is printed below. I have written, in italics, the changes to I made to that recipe. One of those key changes was the addition of ripe tomatoes to some of my batches of chutney.

©Viva Blancmange 2014
©Viva Blancmange 2014

I first made the chutney in 2014, when we had a glut of home-grown produce in our back garden which were ripening at such a rapid pace I couldn’t keep-up. I hated taking my colander out to the garden each morning only to discover juicy ripe tomatoes littering the ground, having fallen because they were overripe. I have always hated wasting food and the idea of adding tomatoes to my chutney batches was the perfect solution to this problem.

©Viva Blancmange 2014
©Viva Blancmange 2014

I also made some fresh tomato sauce (see recipe below). Otherwise the tomatoes would have just rotted away or been eaten by the local wildlife, the latter is not so terrible but I would prefer to consume the produce myself! Our tomatoes were planted very late in the season and the crop finished about October.

©Viva Blancmange 2014
©Viva Blancmange 2014

After that and for my Christmas chutneys (which I gave away as gifts) I had to, reluctantly, resort to shop brought tomatoes. They work just as well but as a anyone who has grown their own produce knows, the taste of supermarket fruit and veg (even organic) is never the same as the produce you dig-up, no matter how misshapen, from your own back garden/allotment or windowsill tubs.

Green (unripe) tomatoes also make great chutney. ©Viva Blancmange 2014
Green (unripe) tomatoes also make great chutney. ©Viva Blancmange 2014

Alice Crang’s publication, like Blanche Anding’s et al, has a particularly good chutney section including recipes for marrow and ripe tomato as well as green tomato chutney. It also contains a superb recipe for tomato sauce. My chutney goes very well with hand-made beefburgers (see my recipe below), perfect for your Big Lunch BBQ!

If you put chutney into attractive, sterilised jam jars, affix an attractive label to the front with details of your chutney – don’t forget to date, secure a small circle of  vintage-style fabric over the lid with matching satin ribbon and this  makes a very economical gift. For a decorative flourish, sew a pretty button on to the ribbon at the front. My mother was suitably impressed, she is the queen of chutney!

Perhaps you could also give jars away to your party guests as part of a goody bag or if your Big Lunch event is going to be a large gathering, consider selling jars for a modest amount (no more than £2/£3) either donating the profits to a community cause or to help pay for your fabulous feast. Why not also ask your friends, family and neighbours to save their empty, glass, sauce bottles. Remove the labels in hot soapy water. Sterilise the bottles and make batches of tomato sauce to give away or sell at your Big Lunch event.

  • More information about sterilising glass jars can be found here.
My chutney simmering on the hob before I added my tomatoes (these are added after the apples and onions have been softened). ©Viva Blancmange 2014
My chutney simmering on the hob before I added my tomatoes (these are added after the apples and onions have been softened). ©Viva Blancmange 2014

Spicy Apple and Tomato Chutney

Practical Cookery for All by Blanche Anding et al (1949 edition)

Ingredients: 12 large sour apples [cooking apples], 8 ozs onions, 2lbs of fresh ripe tomatoes, 1 quart vinegar [just over a litre of good quality vinegar, malt is ok but cider or other flavoured vinegar of your choice adds a little something extra to the chutney], 2 ozs mustard seeds, 4 ozs raisins, 1/2 lb sugar, 1 oz mustard [Dijon mustard works well], 1 oz ground ginger, 1 oz salt, 2 oz garlic [finely chopped], 4 tamarinds (optional) [I didn’t use these], little cayenne [I used smoked paprika instead], I also added a handful of mixed citrus peel which gives the final chutney a really sweet taste.

Note on conversion of measurements: 1 oz = 28 g

Method: Peel the apples and onions, and chop finely. Put them in the vinegar and simmer until soft. Wash the mustard seeds in vinegar and dry them in a cool oven. Stone the raisins, then chop them finely. Add the other ingredients and simmer all until a thick consistency is obtained [the citrus peel will help thicken the chutney]. Leave mixture to cool so as it is not boiling. Place in warmed, sterilised jars. Don’t put hot liquid into cold glass jars, the jars will crack and the mixture will be unusable, for health and safety reasons as it may have become contaminated with glass fragments.

©Viva Blancmange 2014
©Viva Blancmange 2014

Tomato Sauce

Preserves for All Occasions by Alice Crang (1st edition 1944, my edition, 4th, 1953)

Ingredients: 12lb ripe tomatoes, 1lb onions, 1lb sugar, 1 pint vinegar, 1 and 1/2 ozs salt, 1/4 oz mixed ground spice, pinch of cayenne pepper.

Method: Cut-up the tomatoes and cook them gently until they are quite soft. Rub the pulp through a hair sieve [fine sieve] and return it to the pan. Add the other ingredients and cook gently until the sauce is fairly thick, but do not boil it quickly. Allow to cool slightly and then pour the hot sauce into heated bottles [sterilised – see above] and seal at once.  The tomato tissues tend to separate out leaving a clear layer at the top, but this will not affect the flavouring and an occasional shake of the bottle will remedy this.

I always use Cornish Sea Salt in my cooking so was delighted to a find a tub in my hamper. This was spicy mix of sea salt and luxury pepper (red bell pepper, cracked green peppercorn and pimento mix). ©Viva Blancmange 2015
I always use Cornish Sea Salt in my cooking so was delighted to a find a tub in my hamper. This tub was a spicy mix of sea salt and luxury pepper (red bell pepper, cracked green peppercorn and pimento mix). ©Viva Blancmange 2015

 

Cornish Sea Salt Company's 'Sea Salt & Luxury Pepper: Ingenious Seasoning.' ©Viva Blancmange 2015
Cornish Sea Salt Company’s ‘Sea Salt & Luxury Pepper: Ingenious Seasoning.’ ©Viva Blancmange 2015

My Recipe For Hand-Made Beefburgers

Quantity: 6 large beefburgers, you might get 8 depending on your pattie-shaping skills!

Ingredients: 1 x 750g pack of good quality mince, 1 x egg, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, teaspoon smoked paprika, teaspoon of Colman’s dried mustard powder or teaspoon of Dijon mustard (both if you like spicy burgers), a couple of dashes of Worcester Sauce, teaspoon of dried mixed herbs or finely chopped fresh coriander.

Method:

  1. Into a large mixing bowl, place the mince and all the other ingredients, including the egg (both yolk and white). Best way to mix these ingredients is by hand;
  2. Keep one had free from mixture so that you can steady the bowl and use the other to mix and ‘squeeze’ all the ingredients together thoroughly;
  3. Once mixed, leave to stand with cling film over the top in a cool dry place in your kitchen for an hour. This hour of resting your mince-mix allows all the flavours to settle and infuse;
  4. Shape your beefburger patties to the required size. Put a couple of sheets of kitchen towel onto a large plate (or tray if you are doubling-up the batches) and place your finished patties on there. These beefburgers can be prepared the night before and stored, covered with foil or cling-film, overnight in your fridge. Always make sure you allow the meat to get to room temperature before you cook it, this avoids any excess moisture in the meat which can make them smoke more on the BBQ or griddle;
  5. Rub some rapeseed or olive oil onto your hands and then gently coat eat burger. Do not smother the burgers in oil otherwise you will create a lot of smoke when cooking/grilling. There is already plenty of fat that will ooze out of the burgers once they start cooking so adding more oil, also makes them less healthy;
  6. The beefburgers can be cooked on a griddle, BBQ or put into the oven. Remember if you make the burgers too large they can be more difficult to cook. Large sized burgers are best cooked on a BBQ  or in the oven (preheated to 180C 15 to 20 mins but keep an eye on the burgers though and check after 10 mins);
  7. These burgers are also delicious cold and crumbled over a bowl of salad, topped with French dressing or eaten with a dollop of mustard mayonnaise.

Vegetarian Option = Substitute minced beef with soya mince.

Vegan Option = Use crushed chickpeas (2/3 drained cans should be enough for 8 large burgers) instead of mince, omit edd and bind with a handful of breadcrumbs and 1 grated carrot. To boost the taste, I would add a teaspoon of ground cumin. To avoid the pattie collapsing as this mixture is a bit more fragile, I would lightly dust your burgers in plain flour, this will serve to hold together the mixture when frying/grilling/BBQ’ing or oven baking. If you oven-bake then turn these patties once half-way through cooking. They should be cooked well within the 20 minutes and take less time than meat-based patties.

Low Fat Option = Substitute turkey mince for beef mince.

I used 'Eat My Chilli' spicy rub by Cornish company, Gordan  Bennett, that was in my Eden Project hamper, to marinade some of my chicken breasts. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
I used ‘Eat My Chilli’ spicy rub by Cornish company, Gordan Bennett, that was in my Eden Project hamper, to marinade some of my chicken breasts. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
'Eat My Chilli' spicy rub by Cornish company, Gordan Bennett. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
‘Eat My Chilli’ spicy rub by Cornish company, Gordan Bennett. ©Viva Blancmange 2015

My Recipe For Chicken, Hungarian Sausage and Mediterranean Vegetable Tray Bake

Ingredients: Chicken breasts/thighs/wings (portions amounts depends upon number of guests you are catering for), Hungarian cured sausage/chorizo (chopped into inch discs), small punnet of cherry tomatoes, 1 large onion, 1 large red onion, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or teaspoon of dried mixed herbs), 1 yellow pepper, 1 orange pepper, new potatoes, 2 large garlic bulbs cut in half (I used black garlic which is sweet and treacly, ordinary garlic works just as well). Black pitted olives can also be added. Olive or rapeseed oil.

Marinade: Dark soy sauce, juice of 1 lemon/lime , salt, pepper, a dessertspoon of red/green pesto, teaspoon smoked paprika, olive or rapeseed oil. If you like your chicken spicy then you can add a dessertspoon from a pre-mixed jar of spices (or create your own mix from dried spices). If you like oriental cuisine then why not add ground ginger, or a fresh piece of chopped ginger, 2 Star Anises together with a teaspoon of Chinese Five-Spice to your dark soy sauce and lemon/lime juice.

I made good use of the black garlic bulbs in my Eden Project hamper. If you haven't got any black garlic bulbs then ordinary garlic works just as well.
I made good use of the black garlic bulbs from my Eden Project hamper. If you haven’t got any black garlic bulbs then ordinary garlic works just as well.

Method:

  1. In a large clear plastic bag, mix  when your chosen marinade, add the uncooked chicken to the bag and blend. This methods avoids you touching the uncooked chicken and is more sanitary, avoids cross-contamination. Leave your chicken to marinate for 24 or 48 hours in your fridge. Place the bag(s) in a bowl just in case they leak;
  2. Preheat your oven to 200C;
  3. Prepare all of the vegetables (save for  the garlic bulbs and rosemary sprigs, keep these to one side for now);
  4. Line a large baking dish or foil disposable tray with the vegetables;
  5. Pour olive oil over the vegetables, don’t drown the vegetables in oil as they will burn in the oven;
  6. With your hands gently mix the oil and vegetables to ensure even coating throughout;
  7. Place your marinated chicken on top of the vegetables and dot with the sprigs of rosemary;
  8. Sprinkle the cut sausage or chorizo over the dish;
  9. Cover with foil and put into a hot oven for 30 minutes;
  10. Remove from oven after 30 minutes;
  11. Turn down the temperature of your oven to 180 and arrange the halved garlic bulbs in the dish (if you add the garlic bulbs at the start you will burn garlic gloves and it will be very bitter!). Recover with foil and place into oven for a further 30 to 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes of this cooking time has elapsed;
  12. To brown the dish, cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes uncovered. Total cooking time= 1 hour plus 30 to 45 mins. Make sure that your chicken is properly cooked through, no translucent flesh or red flecks. If cooking chicken thighs or drumsticks the meat should fall away from the bone once cooked and meat juices should run clear. If in any doubt, use a meat thermometer.
I marinated half of my chicken breasts using the spicy rub and the other half with lemon and pesto. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
I marinated half of my chicken breasts using the spicy rub and the other half with lemon and pesto. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
Although the black garlic bulb is shown here on the vegetables, I didn't put the bulb into until later in the cooking otherwise it would burn at the higher oven temperature. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
Although the black garlic bulb is shown here on the uncooked vegetables, I didn’t put the bulbs into the tray bake until later on in the cooking otherwise the garlic cloves burn at the higher oven temperature. ©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015
©Viva Blancmange 2015

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  • Street party tea in Chipping Norton celebrating V.J. Day at the end of World War Two, 15th August, 1945.
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  • Street party celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in Hoxton, north London, 6th June, 1977.
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  • Street party in Stowell Street, Salford, Greater Manchester to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee, June, 1977.
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  • Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee street party held in Swinbrook, The Cotswolds, June 2012.
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  • Hasidic street party Paget Road, London N16, October 1989. Councillor Rabbi Pinter leads the procession. They are members of the Chassidim Jewish sect.
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  • Sumptuous spread of homemade cakes made the residents of Melbourne Road, Wimbledon, South West London for their street party to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, June 2012.

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