Tuesday 28 September 2021

A Taste of History!

If you couldn't make our live cook-along event on zoom with theatre chef Leo Burtin that we ran on Heritage Open Day Saturday in September here is a taste of what we got up to ... 

Leo presented a fascinating mix of the history and significance of recipe writing and some interesting ingredients while cooking up a syrup and a stew. He was inspired by autumn and recipe and remedy books kept by Cheshire women over the centuries that are now treasured by the Archives.

Before the event people taking part received a box in the post with some of the harder to find ingredients. Opening the box was exciting and the smell of spices was amazing. I couldn't cook along on the day so had a go with the mushroom ‘ragoo' recipe in advance. It’s a dish that should definitely be eaten on a cold autumn night by the fire with some crusty bread on the side. I used a real mix of mushrooms to add even more flavour and a bit of fennel. The result got the thumbs up from my family. 

Thanks to Leo for developing  a great event, and sharing his recipe, you can find out more about his other Eat the Archives projects here

The event was made possible with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of our Cheshire archives: a story shared project - buy a lottery ticket if you can! (No such thing as a free lunch!)

To ragoo mushrooms (an autumnal stew)


3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

1 large onion

2 large carrots (and/or other seasonal root vegetable)

600g mixed mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pep­per

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 1/2 tablespoons plain flour

500 ml vegetable stock

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon yeast extract


1. Dice the onion, peel and slice the carrots and roughly chop the mushrooms. Warm up the stock.

2. Gently heat the vegetable oil or butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the onion and a tsp of salt. Let the onion caramelise on low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

3. Add the carrots and mushrooms and mix well. Take care that the mushrooms do not stick to the bottom of the pan. You may need to add a little oil, wine or a little of the stock to prevent them from catching.

4. Let the mushroom soften for 5-10 minutes then add the spices, herbs and the flour. Stir to coat.

5. Pour the stock while stirring then melt in the yeast extract.

6. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the root vegetables have softened. Stir occasionally.

7. Add salt or cayenne pepper to taste. Let the stew rest and cool for five minutes before serving.

8. Serve with your choice of warm bread; pearl barley; buckwheat or rice.

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