A Taste of Georgian Cuisine with Sotheby's New Cookbook

A Taste of Georgian Cuisine with Sotheby's New Cookbook

A new cookbook from Sotheby's brings the food revolution of the Georgian period into a contemporary setting. and makes an ideal gift for the festive season.
A new cookbook from Sotheby's brings the food revolution of the Georgian period into a contemporary setting. and makes an ideal gift for the festive season.

A s Sotheby’s celebrates its 275th anniversary, Myles Fensom, Head Chef of Sotheby’s Restaurant, has marked the occasion by reimagining 18th-century English gastronomy for a 21st-century palate. From potted pig’s cheek with dripping toast to a traditionally meat-based white soup reinvented as a warming vegetarian starter, The Art of Cooking: A Contemporary Twist on Georgian Fare explores the food revolution of a period that would forever transform the landscape of British cuisine.

White soup with parsley oil and celeriac

Weaving a tapestry of personal anecdotes amongst Georgian traditions executed with modern finesse, Fensom shares with home cooks a collection of some fifty delicious, easy-to-follow recipes. Ranging from hearty breakfasts and quick-to-prepare sweet treats to celebratory dishes fit for a feast, this cookbook gives a rare insight into the heart of a Georgian kitchen. Inspired by the era’s dependence on seasonal produce, as well as a back-to-basics approach to cooking, the book will bring a pinch of adventure to any household with recipes including: the perfect bowl of porridge; steak and kidney pudding; roast celeriac; pan fried hake; the good old faithful bread and butter pudding; custard tart, and a pineapple upside-down cake – the undisputed ‘King of Fruit’ which triggered a period of ‘pineapplemania’ as the fruit became the ultimate status symbol.

Pineapple upside-down cake

When Sotheby’s was founded in 1744, Britain was in an era of social, technological and scientific advancement which would shape the country’s entry into the modern age. And, amidst all this great change, another, more domestic revolution was going on: that of food. A boom in trade and international travel paved the way to an unprecedented amount of fresh and exciting ingredients and dishes – from sophisticated and adventurous ice cream flavours to today’s classics like trifle and kedgeree. Whilst this domestic revolution swept the nation, it was then that the British cookbook truly came into its own. The Art of Cooking owes much to Hannah Glasse, whose seminal cookbook, The Art of Cookery from 1747, caused a sensation and established her as arguably the very first ‘domestic goddess’.

Steak and kidney pudding

Why Not Try....

Parkin Tea Cake (Sweet Treats, page 132)

Parkin Tea Cake

There is evidence in the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth that parkin was enjoyed on wintry days and nights as early as 1800 under this name, but it is believed that this time-honoured treat from northern England is derived from a far older honey-sweetened or brown-ale oatbread recipe for Thar or Tharf Cake, similar to gingerbread, and traditionally eaten on All Souls Day and Guy Fawkes Night.

Serves 4 to 6

· 300g self-raising flour

· 125g muscovado sugar

· 200g oatmeal (medium or whole oats)

· 4 teaspoons ground ginger

· 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

· 1 teaspoon allspice

· 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

· 175g unsalted butter, softened

· 3 large eggs, beaten

· 140g golden syrup

· 60g black treacle

· 3 tablespoons milk (full-fat or semi-skimmed), possibly more

Preheat the oven to 165–170ºC (145–150ºC for a fan oven).

Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and rub in the butter (by hand) until incorporated.

In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, golden syrup and black treacle. Now add this wet mixture to the dry one and mix well, then add the milk. It should be a heavy consistency but not dry, and you may need to add more milk to get it right – check and adjust as you go.

Line a deep 22cm baking tray or grease a 23cm cake tin, then spread the mixture evenly in it and bake for about 1 hour. Check with a sharp knife; if it comes back clean, it’s ready.

Rest the parkin until cool, then set aside in an airtight container for at least 24 hours – wait several days if you can, as it will become increasingly moist and rich.

The Art of Cooking: A Contemporary Twist on Georgian Fare (2019) is available to buy from Sotheby’s Restaurant (34-35 New Bond Street, W1A 2AA | 020 7293 5000) and Hatchards, Piccadilly. RRP. £40. [Recipes © Myles Fensom Photography © Simon Smith; Tom Carter; Getty/Canva]

The Restaurant

The launch of The Art of Cooking follows the reopening of Sotheby’s Restaurant – a culinary haven at the heart of the art world. Conceived as a relaxed Parisian bistro, it has become a favourite among art lovers, catering to discerning and myriad tastes. Inspired by the seasons, the menu focuses on sustainable, locally-sourced organic produce. The restaurant’s menu will continue to offer Sotheby’s signature dishes – including the synonymous ‘Lobster Club Sandwich’ – with the addition of select recipes from the cookbook.

With an emphasis on British design and craftsmanship, Sotheby’s renovations, both to the restaurant and galleries, continue to honour the auction houses’ Georgian heritage while also paying homage to the exquisite works of art that have passed through its doors. Hanging above the diners are light fittings based on the “hands of Caravaggio” from the artist’s great masterpiece Supper at Emmanus, and his portrayals of St Francis of Assisi and Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine and festivity.

Sotheby's Restaurant

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