Down Memory Lane
for a Traditional Yorkshire Shrimp Tea
~Herbs on Saturday~
|A vintage advert for the Morris Minor|
Saturday 20th August 2011
Samedi 20 Août 2011 ~ St Bernard
After a manic week, I am now living life in the slow lane again…….and, oh, the memories of my childhood come flooding back; long days of uncomplicated joy and small pleasures, day trips to the seaside ~ the smell of leather, the well sprung seat of a vintage car as it wended its way around the Yorkshire countryside…..the promise of a fish and chip supper or even better, a shrimp tea. As a child, I seem to remember that holidays were simple and there was an unfettered pace about everything; in my memories of those happy carefree days, my parents were younger than I am now and we all laughed a lot ~ simple pleasures indeed and yet indelibly etched upon my memory, more so than any modern day, high octane “spoon fed” trip to some “theme” park or “reality” museum ~ sorry to sound so cynical, I am sure there are many lovely theme parks and reality museums! The car in question by the way was a trusty Morris Minor, a car I was to own myself later on in life, but as a vintage car enthusiast, and not as a family car.
And the shrimp tea in question? Quite the most sublime taste experience you could ever have had; these shrimp teas are sadly not offered today as far as I know, although there may be a tiny house tucked away deep in the Yorkshire Wolds that could offer one of these delectable dégustations…….and, if there is, please let me know. The main component of a shrimp tea is the delicate pink shrimps nestled in spiced butter that are packed into earthenware pots, then sealed with golden clarified butter – quintessential British fare that is tinged with timeless elegance of an old-fashioned Seaside teatime treat.
Although Morecambe Bay in the North West of England is most famous for its potted shrimps, I remember these amazing Yorkshire Shrimp Teas from my childhood, as you may have gathered from my comments before; you would see signs outside country cottages and farmhouses along the Yorkshire coastline near Scarborough, Filey and Whitby.
Potted shrimps are traditionally served with hot toast and lashings of hot (preferably Yorkshire) tea. Serve these potted shrimp as appetisers, or for a real “Full Yorkshire Shrimp Tea” – with hot buttered toast, fresh lemon wedges and a pot of tea. This recipe is based on a 19th century recipe found in an old country cookbook which I bought in an antique bookshop in England, I don’t have it with me in France, but I will photograph it when I am back in England next time ~ it’s really rather lovely.
And back to Herbs on Saturday, and Bay…..which is used in this old fashioned English recipe; one fascinating fact about Bay is that the leaves are slightly narcotic! They were used by the priestesses in the Temple at Delphi to induce mild trance-like states. However they do not induce such states when dried and used in small quantities in cooking, so my potted shrimps should be safe ~ no careering off the road after one bay leaf too many!
|The aromatic leaf from the bay laurel tree, it is an essential component of the classic bouquet garni: parsley, thyme and a bay leaf. The bitter sweet, spicy leaves impart their pungent flavour to a variety of dishes and ingredients, making bay a versatile store cupboard ingredient. It’s also one of the few herbs that doesn’t lose its flavour when dried. BBC Food|
Bay is one of the most versatile herbs used in cooking. The leaves are commonly used in the French ‘bouquet garni’ which can be added to flavour stews and soups, and I use them a lot in my kitchen.
|A bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs that is added to casseroles, stocks, sauces and soups. It traditionally comprises parsley (or parsley stalks, which have lots of flavour), a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. These herbs may be bundled into a strip of leek or a piece of celery stalk, or tied in a muslin bag or with string, to keep them together during cooking and allow easy removal before serving. BBC Food|
Bay leaves (Sweet Bay or Sweet Laurel) originate in Asia but are well adapted to the Mediterranean where they grow profusely. They are commonly used in English and French cooking in a variety of dishes from soups and stews to grilled fish and meat dishes.
Use of bay leaves dates back to legends of the Greek god Apollo (god of prophecy healing and poetry). Legend suggests that Apollo was in love with Daphne, but it was unrequited. To hide herself from him, she turned herself into a bay tree. When Apollo found out what she had done he declared the bay tree sacred and wore a wreath of bay leaves on his head. In Ancient Greece and Rome it became a tradition to crown victors in battle and sporting events with a wreath of bay leaves. Poets received a similar honour – one that is recognised now in the accolade of poet laureate.
Try adding a couple of bay leaves to chicken fricassee, beef stews and a bouquet garni with thyme and parsley to stock. Bay leaves are a versatile ingredient in dishes and are used to bring out and compliment the different flavours of a particular meal. They have a pungent flavour when eaten fresh and a more subtle flavour when dry. They are best removed from the meal prior to serving or can be crumbled finely.
But back to my Yorkshire Shrimp Tea ~ my potted shrimps use powdered bay leaves and a whole bay leaf as a garnish…….the recipe follows, optional extras include, a vintage car, a bucket and spade and a woollen car rug preferably in tartan or plaid.
for a Traditional Yorkshire Shrimp Tea
(Makes 4 pots)
1 pint (550g) of peeled brown shrimp
150g (6ozs) butter
juice of half a fresh lemon
1 tablespoon of finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mace or 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch powdered bay leaves
salt and black pepper
100g (4ozs) clarified butter
4 whole bay leaves for decoration
A vintage car (Optional)
A bucket and spade (Optional)
A bucket and spade (Optional)
A woollen car rug in plaid or tartan (Optional)
Put the butter and shallots into a saucepan and leave whilst the butter melts and the shallots soften. It should only take a couple of minutes over a medium heat ~ say about 5 minutes at the most.
Add the shrimps, stir and coat them in butter for about 30 seconds then add the rest of the ingredients, except the clarified butter, and keep stirring. It will only take four to five minutes to cook; the mixture mustn’t boil at any stage.
Traditionally the potted shrimps are divided into individual portions (ramekins) – so pour the shrimp mixture into 4 individual earthenware, glass or china pots. Allow to cool for a few minutes then place in the fridge to set. Once set, pour hot clarified butter over the top to seal, placing a bay leaf on top. Allow to cool again.
Serve with hot buttered toast, lemon wedges, brown bread and butter and a pot of English tea.
Tip: To clarify butter, melt it, skim the foam off the top and carefully pour the butter without the milky residue into a clean jug or container.
Note of caution about the options:
DO not drive the vintage car whilst eating the potted shrimps; the car rug can be used if inclement weather sets in; do not eat the shrimps from the bucket using the spade as a spoon.
Thanks for allowing me to share a little bit of my memory lane with you all……I have many more treasured memories and recipes tucked away, all waiting to be aired and shared. See you soon.
A Trifle Rushed says
I saw some lovely brown shrimps at the fish counter, so I'm going to make these very soon. Thank you for a great recipe.
I've always wanted to try Potted Shrimps! If my compatriots would see me eating this they would look at me in horror. Spaniards have something aginst butter (we are so proud about our olive oil), they tink butter is churned by the devil itself!
But I found the idea of potted shrimps very attractive and delicious. I'll have to give it a go!
Jenny Eatwell says
I have made potted crab, which was lovely, and am intrigued by these potted shrimps. I can see I'll have to give them a go one day when we're planning to have a traditional High Tea. 🙂
Inspired by eRecipeCards says
Well, this is new… I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest that you will not find this in Kansas ever, let alone not any more. I love how it looks and can just imagine what a fabulous treat while on a driving holiday!
Sadly, the days of family driving vacations are limited. People can say what they want about South Dakota (about as far from California and New York as you can get… on many levels). But all my nieces and nephews get to take day trips with their family to the Black Hills (Mt Rushmore), Deadwood, Devil's Tower or an over night to Yosemite. Wonder which they will look back more fondly on, Disney or those trips.
Wonderful post today
I adore potted shrimps, and love the subtle flavour of bay leaves. Karen you are so bad for my waistline ;D
Karen S Booth says
Thanks all! I love to come by and read your comments, I will reply in full later…….bye for now from a sunny SW France!