Series celebrating the very best of British home cooking. Join the Hairy Bikers as they visit mums and discover what they cook for the day of many happy returns.
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Kingy, we've been on the road for a few weeks now.
Yes, mate, and with a proper mission.
A rescue mission,
to save Britain's favourite family recipes from extinction.
The kind of dishes that have been handed down from one generation
to the next and stood the test of time.
That brings back memories.
It's a dish to share with your friends.
Over the last few weeks we've persuaded the nation's mums to open their cookbooks,
and pass on their best cooking tips for posterity.
This is our last week on the road meeting mums with dishes that they really want to save.
And do our last get together, where foodie folk can come and swap their favourite recipes.
Welcome to our Mums Knows Best recipe fair.
Where mums come to share their family recipes with us, with each other, and the nation.
Come on in!
While we're enthusiastically devouring the dishes that people bring along...
-No, you mean saving the recipes for the nation.
Gerard, our food historian, will be collecting all sorts
of wonderful recipes and seeking out the stories behind the food.
Sometimes in Scotland you see Scotch pies
and they'll have macaroni cheese in,
or cheesy beans or cheese, beans and sausages.
It's bonkers what you can put in a pie.
All these fantastic family recipes
are going to be on the Mums Know Best website for you to cook at home.
Because we reckon that when it comes to great home cooking,
mums really do know best.
The theme of today's show is birthday celebrations.
It's food that's made with love...
That has warmth and great memories attached...
-That can be sweet, can be savoury.
-Children have got to love it.
But it's your birthday, so you can have special food that you want.
Before we can get our recipe fair started, we need to enlist the help
of three fantastic mums with their take on birthday recipes.
Because we'll want them and their dishes to be part of our grand finale,
a birthday banquet to celebrate the fact that on your birthday
you can eat whatever you want.
-And, dude, with over 60 million people in the UK, that's a lot of birthday treats!
-Calm down, Kingy.
Now, our first stop is in Lincolnshire to meet mum Yvonne, who comes from a long line of cooks.
She really enjoys cooking, and her tasty dishes are enjoyed most often
by her daughter Bethany and her husband Peter.
There's some great smells coming out of that kitchen.
Well, come in and have a look and see what there is.
-Right, my darling.
'And even before we arrived, Yvonne has been rustling up
'one of her childhood birthday favourites, a Manchester tart.
'Composed of delicious layers of bananas, custard and roasted coconut,
'it was my favourite school dessert, mate.
'And you couldn't have a party without it.'
So this is your culinary photo family tree.
-It is, yes.
-Who's that, Yvonne?
That's starting with my grandad.
He was in the army and that's the one that I've just found out
that he was a chef in the army.
And then that's my grandad again, in his uniform.
He'd put weight on by then.
Ah, must be the good cooking, you see. That's what it is!
-What's your book?
-Yeah, let's have a look.
That's the one that me and Bethany are actually doing,
and these are the different things that we've been doing like leek and potato, and bacon soup.
-So when this one's full, presumably she'll be able to pass it on to her grandchildren.
-That's it. And this is the one that me mum did for us.
These are all the different recipes that we've got, like raspberry buns.
What I loved most was the birthday cake.
-I mean, you had to have a lovely birthday cake with candles on and plenty of jam and cream in it.
-Do you know why you have candles on your birthday cake?
-Why is that?
-Well, it was thought in the old times
a cake was an offering, and you looked at the candles and the smoke sent your prayers quickly to God.
-And, of course, if you can blow the candles out in a oner...
All the smoke... that means you get all your wishes come true.
So, dude, if it was good enough for the ancient Romans, it's good enough for us.
But what are we going to cook together today?
I've made a Manchester tart already, and also a sausage plait
we're going to make, and a good birthday celebration cake.
Modern sausage rolls are descended from a medieval meat pasty.
In the mid 1800s, the basic pastry was replaced with flaky pastry and they've never looked back.
For my money, a birthday party isn't a birthday party without a sausage roll.
And I think a sausage roll is one of those...
It's just been cheapened, hasn't it?
People go and buy a big bag for two quid, and it's full of liquid pig and, like, bad pastry.
But like you're doing, if you make your own, they're fabulous.
You're a smarty pants, you've made your own pastry.
I have. I have. There's nothing, you can't beat making your own.
-This is rough puff pastry.
-This is rough puff, yes.
What's in the filling?
Sausage meat, onions, sage. There's salt and black pepper in it.
We do a nice one with half haggis, half sausage meat.
Or indeed, put some black pudding in is good. Is that all right?
That's fantastic, you've done a good job.
So just start cutting at the sides here.
'By keeping the meat juices inside the plait,
'Yvonne is ensuring that the flavours will seep into the pastry.
'And to give it that fantastic golden hue,
'she brushes the top with an eggy wash.'
-Is that one of Bethany's favourites?
-Oh, it is.
And she always has it at her party.
-No party would be the same without a sausage plait.
There we have it, ladies and gentlemen,
Yvonne's sausage celebration plait.
-Now you need to put it into the oven for about 20 minutes.
Let's not hang around and watch it.
'While the sausage plait cooks in a moderate oven,
'Yvonne has time to make us a birthday staple for her family - a celebration fruit cake.'
In ancient Greece, on feast days people would offer a round cake to the moon goddess Artemis,
and then, put candles on it to recreate the moon's glow.
But Yvonne's got her own special birthday offering.
-Fruitcake. A special fruitcake.
What sort of special fruitcake?
It's special because this has been in our family for over 30 years.
-Is it complicated?
So easy to make.
Right, so what we need to do now is cream the margarine and the sugar together.
So how about you doing it, Si?
I know you'll do a good job.
'Once the mixture has been creamed,
'five eggs are added to help it rise
-and keep the cake fresh for longer.
'And it's back to you, the human whisk.'
He comes with attachments as well, you know.
-A jaw attachment.
Put him in some tight jeans and he's a mincer.
'Yvonne gradually adds the flour.
'This is a very simple recipe for a great fruitcake,
'and not just for birthdays, but for any celebration.'
So what we need to do now is pour the fruit in.
'Fruitcakes are considered a British classic dating from the 13th Century,
'when dry fruit started to be imported from the Mediterranean countries.'
It was in Victorian Britain that we really started to make birthday cakes.
A bit like Christmas cards and Valentine's cards,
you know, in Victorian times.
But then they used to put things in the cakes, like money,
and they used to put a thimble in.
So if you got the coins, that was lucky,
it meant you were going to be prosperous.
If you got the thimble, it would mean you were going to stay single.
So you can imagine all these Victorian spinsters:
-"Oh, not the thimble again!"
-So what we need to add now is the brandy.
-That's a generous measure.
-But it does also keep the fruitcake nice and moist as well.
And it acts as a preservative so you can keep the cake
-for a long time, can't you?
So now it goes into the tin.
And into the oven for two and a half hours.
Yvonne's daughter Bethany is back from school,
and as luck would have it, it's her birthday in a couple of days.
So we've decided to give her an early Mums Know Best birthday party.
And look at the feast.
It's full of treats we love. Piping hot sausage plait,
the schoolboys' favourite, the Manchester tart,
and especially for Bethany's birthday,
Yvonne has iced another of her special fruitcakes.
She's a bit of a dab hand.
And to help us decide which of these dishes are worthy of our recipe fair
are Yvonne's husband Peter and her mum and dad.
-First, it's the sausage plait.
-Oh, Yvonne, that's brilliant.
-So what do you think to the pastry?
It is good, and you can vary the fillings.
You can experiment, can't you? But the whole thing works beautifully.
It's like a really good party food.
-To get you in the mood for dancing.
'Kingy, I'm really in the mood
'for one of my favourite childhood memories.
-'Like what, the Nolans?
-No, no! The Manchester tart.'
There you go, Grandma.
-Everybody's school dinner favourite, wasn't it?
-Never had it with bananas before.
-This is how we used to have it at our school.
Down our way, your neck of the wood, I suppose it would've been the Sunderland slapper?
'Here, wind your neck in, you, I've got mates that live down there.
-'Sorry, man, I couldn't resist.
-It's time for Bethany's birthday cake.
'Yvonne has prepared another of her fruitcakes and simply iced and decorated it.'
A one, a two, a one, two, three! # Happy...
No, no! No, no, no, you can't.
In 1893, Mildred and Patty Hill, they wrote that song and they've been on royalties ever since.
It'll cost, like, thousands if you sing it on the telly.
I tell you what we'll do, we'll go...
'Last year, the song Happy Birthday made around £3,000 a day for its owners.
'Cor, that'd be a nice birthday present, wouldn't it?
'Well, we may not be able to sing the song
'but nothing's going to stop us from tucking in to that cake.'
-I think we should, Si.
I think we should.
Darling, we'd like to extend an invite to you and the family.
We want you to come to the recipe fair.
Come to the fair, have a giggle, share, swap,
get enthusiastic about all the recipes that your family has
and just share that with loads of other like-minded people.
That would be great. I'd love to.
Thank you for a great day, and great recipes. We've had a lovely time.
What a spread, Dave. That sausage plait is the ultimate sausage roll.
It's nectar to the gods, dude.
And what a great savoury treat for the birthday bonanza at the recipe fair.
Si, don't you forget my favourite.
That Manchester tart has to come to the fair.
-Bye. Thanks a lot.
-Thanks very much.
-Nice to see you.
-Nice to see you. Bye.
Isn't it great that celebration dishes are alive and well?
-Yeah. Well, let's hit the road and find some more.
-Onwards and upwards, dude. It's our turn to cook.
And talking about birthdays, it makes me want to cook only one thing. Trifle.
A summer berries trifle, like me mam used to make me on my birthday.
Dude, I love it.
Let's do a huge one, bikers-style.
Whoa, what a great place to cook. Outside an Elizabethan crib.
Wick, wick, wah. We've got a dessert that links back to that sort of era in time.
-Now, not any dessert, it's a birthday celebration dessert, a mere...
Trifles were first eaten in the 16th Century and were relatively
simple affairs, just boiled cream with some flavourings.
It was in the mid 18th Century that biscuits soaked in wine
were added and it was considered a dessert fit for the king's table.
From there it gradually mutated into the trifle that we have today.
Everybody loves trifle. Whether you're four, 40, 400... Trifle.
You can't have a birthday celebration without a trifle. You can't, man, it's wrong.
You have to start with some form of sponge cake.
In olden days it'd be leftover stale cake and basically you infuse that cake with booze.
The old fashioned English one, a good sherry trifle.
Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to line the bowl with this lovely sponge.
The other thing you have to have is jelly.
It ain't a trifle without jelly.
You have to, have to, have to have jelly in a trifle.
Oh, making jelly is really difficult.
Top tip, just dissolve your jelly in as little hot water as possible,
then make up the quantity using cold water
and the jelly will set a lot quicker.
Now, you may want to make your own jelly from fruit juice and gelatine.
But there's nothing wrong in using some good readymade jelly to make a perfect trifle.
With this cup, I'm now just going to start to build up
a little roll of loveliness.
And it's got a real wow factor, a good trifle.
Oh, it has. I get very excited about this. It's great.
I always knew that time you spent on that brick laying course would come in handy.
-Now, five tablespoons of sherry, I think.
-Or liquor of choice.
If you've got little 'uns and you don't want to put it in, don't put it in. You can do it with fruit juice.
But it just makes it special. It's your birthday.
What we're going to add to this now is the lovely fruits.
Now just pour the jelly on without destroying the creation.
Once it's set, it's going to help keep together
the integrity of the trifle.
So when you serve it it's going to come out a lovely spoonful
and sit provocatively on your plate.
You need to set that aside now to cool. Time to make the custard.
Homemade custard's great, isn't it? It is different to the packet stuff.
-Without a doubt.
-First step, cream and milk.
So we want to infuse this with vanilla.
So you take a vanilla pod, split it and slash it like that.
And inside you see all those lovely little seeds,
and that's where the flavour is.
So just scrape them out with your knife. See, that's it.
And you stir that in. All those little seeds are going to distribute.
I'm just going to bring this to the boil, take it off the heat.
That's the base for the custard.
Vanilla is an Aztec spice brought back to Europe
by the Spanish conquistadors during the reign of Elizabeth I.
-The second part of making custard is you need four egg yolks.
Oh, look at the colour of these.
-They're fantastic, aren't they?
Dave, while I'm whisking this can you just drizzle that sugar in for us, mate?
-As we beat the sugar into them it will start to lighten.
Hey? See the colour change already.
Look at that. That's the sort of consistency and texture you need.
So what we're going to do is we're going to add the infused milk.
Now this is the only thing you really have to be careful of.
If there's too much heat in the milk, it will kind of curdle the egg yolks.
So we don't want that, this is proper custard.
Now, you see how that looks really, really watery?
The secret is that what we now need to do
is put this back into your vanilla pan. OK?
Instantly, when you add heat to this mixture...
-You got most of it in the pan.
-It's all right.
-It's all right.
And the top tip here, viewers, is never, when you're pouring your custard back into the pan,
don't leave your whisk in it because you look like a right Charlie.
Back on the heat. Now the top tip -
take two tablespoons of cold water,
two tablespoons of corn flour and mix the two together.
That'll thicken the custard.
It'll also make sure that it sets
and it doesn't kind of disintegrate into that lovely, fruity jelly.
Now we need to cook that till the corn flour's thickened.
That then goes into our bowl.
Now we want to cool this down quickly so I'm just going to put that bowl into some iced water.
The colour of that is so custard yellow, and of course it's completely natural which is a wonderful thing.
That won't take long to cool down. Obviously, if you're at home
just wait for it to chill and put it in the fridge.
-Yeah. But we haven't got one.
That's proper custard, mate.
But when we were kids our mums used powdered custard, of course.
Amazingly, it doesn't contain any eggs.
Yep, it was invented in 1837 by Alfred Bird,
a Brummie chemist, as a gift to his wife.
She was allergic to eggs and couldn't eat real custard.
But it ain't going to sink.
-It's going to sit on top like Nelson on his column.
-It is, dude.
-And this is definitely a bowl to lick out.
But can you imagine, though? It's something like your tenth birthday and your mum comes in with this.
-You are going to be through the roof, aren't you?
On top of this, whipped cream.
-Oh, it's that cream, look.
-Me mum used to say, "Make it like a stormy sea.
"Then we look at your almonds, they'll be like little boats."
Toasted almonds. Isn't it wonderful to think that probably when this house was built
there was a mother making a variant of that for the children's birthday tea?
-And it's still brilliant.
If we don't eat it in a minute, I am going to cry.
-Yeah. Our trifle rocks.
Happy birthday, mate.
Oh, that's it.
-Oh, look, have a look inside.
It's lovely. It's grown up,
-but it's got all the traditional kind of flavours.
I tell you what, with this, all your birthdays can come at once.
-It's a tango on your taste buds, dude.
-It's a party on your palate.
So with our great trifle plus Yvonne's sausage plait and Manchester tart,
we've got some real classics for our birthday banquet.
But what we need now is something that'll compliment these dishes and inject a bit of a twist, dude.
Mate, I know exactly where to go - to Birmingham,
where mum Ira is keeper of the family recipes for her big fat Greek family.
Greek? Like the moon goddess Artemis, who was behind the first birthday cake, dude. Clever, clever.
'Now it's all coming together, Kingy.'
No, I'm not the Avon lady.
Do-do-do, I've got lipstick.
Hello, fancy seeing you here.
Nice to meet you, Dave.
Greek style, two kisses.
-Come here, then.
Geordie style, tongues.
Please, come on in. It's cold out here.
Ira's Greek Cypriot heritage, means a lot of cooking for family get togethers.
At the heart of which are husband Paul and kids Christie and Tim.
-So we're going to make bastichio now.
Yeah. No, bastichio.
Bastichio is a traditional baked pasta dish and the kids favourite for a birthday meal.
It's our Greek equivalent of lasagne but nicer.
OK. So, if you wouldn't mind putting the pasta in the boiling water on the hob over there for me...
-So we'll get that started...
So, like in many pasta bakes, Ira precooks her penne pasta.
She then browns some minced pork with onions, garlic and cayenne pepper, to give it an extra kick.
And to finish, she folds in some flat leaf parsley, a real Greek favourite.
-We've got to make the bechamel now.
It's a way that my mum's developed this way of making bechamel sauce with corn flour.
It's easier and lighter, it's not quite as rich and heavy
-as it is with ordinary flour.
Ira just chucks everything together, to create her white sauce.
You may think that's going to get lumpy.
The secret is, you have to whisk for England.
But the whisking's going to do the trick and her sauce is getting smoother.
Yeah! The corn flour is binding it all together.
What a great and easy way to make a white sauce.
So if you bring this over here...
With the pasta and the white sauce ready, it's time to assemble the dish.
And it's really like lasagne - a layer of pasta, followed by the mince and the white sauce. Enjoy!
It's essentially a Greek bolognaise with bechamel.
Do you know what, dude?
I didn't expect the dish to turn out like that at all.
There you go.
-Ira, is genius.
-Do you reckon?
-Yeah, I do.
-Oh, I think that great, great, great dish...
Let's have a taste of it.
Well, coming from you, I take that as a huge compliment.
A sprinkling of halloumi cheese, 45 minutes in the oven
and then Ira will leave it to rest for another 40 minutes, before serving.
The Greeks love to party and Ira is adamant that no birthday would be complete,
without dolmades, a real delicacy dating back to the Ottoman Empire.
Dolmades are simply stuffed vine leaves.
The leaves are blanched, filled with a mix of pork mince, rice and plenty of spices and then slowly steamed.
Have you seen the plate of dolmades that Ira made earlier?
They look fabulous, don't you think?
Dude, stop thinking about your belly. Ira's already moving on.
For pudding she is making us a real family treat...
This sweet is called mahallebi.
But, the story behind this particular version of mahallebi
is to do with my grandmother in Cyprus, my yiayia Sophia.
On our summer holidays in Cyprus we would go down to the farm
with my grandfather and we would pick all these almonds,
me and my sister and my brothers,
bring them back in these huge straw baskets
and we would start to create this sweet of my grandmothers with water, sugar,
and at the very end she would add generous amounts of rosewater.
-Very time consuming.
-A real family heritage recipe?
-Without a doubt.
Mahallebi is a refreshing milk-based dessert of Lebanese origin,
which has found its way all over the Mediterranean region.
Ira mixes condensed milk, full fat milk, sugar and ground almonds together to create the basic mixture.
-It all, it bit of lumpy mush to begin with but, trust me, it kind of dissolves...
..into a beautiful creamy custard at the end.
So, those are our ground almonds.
And finally, we have our corn flour and our ground rice.
It's all kind of mixed in there together. So, in that goes.
Like with her white sauce, she needs some heat and some muscles to beat these lumps into a smooth sauce.
What we do to loosen it slightly, is add our rosewater.
Rosewater was popularised in the ninth century by Muslim chemists
as a non-alcoholic wine and it is often used in perfume.
Ira pours the mahallebi mix into ramekins
and then sprinkles it with nuts,
before letting it cool to enhance the flavour.
And that's it, then.
-Brilliant. Well done.
What a brilliant eclectic collection of birthday favourites.
The traditional stuffed vine leaves or dolmades,
the kids favourite bastichio and a real family treasure, the mahallebi.
To help polish off the feast, the rest of the gang is joining us.
Ira's son Tim, husband Paul, and her daughter Christie.
Are the dolmades, are they something that you look forward to?
-Oh, definitely. We've had this all our life.
-And, I love it.
If you had your birthday tea, you can have what you want because it's your birthday.
-What would it be?
-Erm...I'd probably go for the bastichio, to be honest.
It's really nice. A classic, to be honest. We have it quite often.
Happy birthday, love!
You see, the good thing about both these dishes, as far as parties are concerned,
is that you can make them both the day before.
But, yeah, hot or cold so, you know, another reason why they're so good for these birthday celebrations,
-or any type of celebration.
-The perfect buffet presentations.
People could have been put off by the bechamel sauce.
-But, the way you've done it...
You don't have to be afraid of and it comes out absolutely perfect.
-All in one.
'That was fab, mate.
'And to finish our birthday feast, we've got Ira's granny's pudding.'
-It's very perfumy, isn't it?
It's like eating joss sticks, but in the nicest possible way!
'Mate, every family does birthdays differently, and I would never have thought of bastichio. But I loved it.
'And can you imagine a mountain of dolmades at our recipe fair finale?'
-Bye! Thank you for cooking with me.
-Bye, Ira. Thanks.
-See you in a bit!
-Great birthday food.
Perfect for the fair!
It's time to sort out a second recipe for our banquet.
But how do you feel, mate,
about us having a go at our own families birthday favourites?
'My mum's shepherd's pie!
'And me mum's cottage pie. Game on, dude, game on!'
Shepherd's pie, here I come.
Cottage pie, here I come.
Ah! Listen to the top.
Even though we grew up on different sides of the country,
our mum's pies are the same recipe.
Apart from, well, the meat that they used.
Oh, that's good beef.
Nice. Nice contrast with the lamb.
-And the haggis. I like it, man.
East coast to west coast,
cottage pie and shepherd pie were family staples.
Even so, it was still the birthday tea of choice for me.
And me. And this is how our mums used to do it...
Slice some celery, carrots, onions and garlic and sweat them until soft.
But you know, shepherd's pie originated in the north,
I mean Scotland, because of all the sheep.
We started eating it in the 1870s,
because primarily that's when mincing machines were invented.
You could mince your leftovers and make a pie.
For my mum's shepherd's pie, it mix of two thirds lamb, to one third haggis.
Just like she used to do on my birthday.
And for my mum's cottage pie, it's quality beef.
Simply brown the meat and add the veggies and stock.
She wouldn't have done this, but I also add a bit of red wine,
just to butch up that beefy flavour.
Then add a couple of tablespoons of flour to thicken it all and let it simmer for at least half an hour.
Now, the little tricksy bit at the end.
Once you've got that pan of mince, season it,
salt and pepper tasting all the time just so you make sure it balanced
and then a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
For the mash, it's worth using the right kind of spuds.
Like me mam used to say, floury ones are the best.
That means, more tattie and less water.
Now, what we added to that is we added some butter, some salt and some pepper. And...
And...some cheese. In our case to go with the Lincolnshire red, it was Lincolnshire poacher.
But for my birthday pie, me mam always used mature cheddar,
just to give it a bit of welly.
So, you have your component parts.
You've got your mince and you've got your cheesy mash.
Now, look, if you want to put some more cheese on your cheesy mash,
hey, listen - it's your celebration, you can do with it what you like.
Having birthday parties, you know, it was just so exciting.
-A great opportunity, wasn't it? To kind of have your mates round.
-But like, sharing...
-Yeah. You're the centre of attention.
-You're the main person.
-And just to share all that food and...
-And just sit and have a crack and, you could have toys.
Milk jellies, I remember, and all of those things that you really...
But the main event was always, it was always a pie of some description, a big massive pie. You know?
Yeah. Yeah. Look at that. It's golden, it's crispy.
And that's one of the best bits, isn't it?
The bit you can't stop picking.
And just serve it with pride, and happy birthday.
You can even put a candle in it if you want, you know?
That's the whole point, mate.
On your birthday, you can have whatever you want.
This isn't just a road trip, it's a nostalgia trip.
Right, mate, we're off.
We've got one more mum to visit and she's in Leicester.
Last, but not least, Connie.
A professional chef running her own traditional Jamaican kitchen.
She's enthusiastic about passing on her culinary heritage
to her daughter Charlotte and her extended family,
who queue up at the door to be fed.
Dude, I like the sound of her.
I can't wait to taste her birthday specialities.
Hot and spicy, the Caribbean way.
First Connie is making a traditional Saturday soup.
Er...why Saturday soup?
Well, because in Jamaica, mums don't cook on Fridays. It's their day off!
So, on Saturday, they make a good healthy broth to refill their families bellies
and that's the Jamaican comfort food that they all want on their big day.
What a good idea! Oh, this mum sounds fab.
'Do you think she can adopt us?'
-How are you?
-I'm Si. How are you doing?
-Hiya, Connie. I'm Dave.
Please come to my kitchen.
-We're following you!
Next up, it's curried mutton.
The main dish when celebrating a birthday at Connie's.
It's more than just one dish, it's a meal in itself,
with fried dumplings and rice.
The first thing we're going to cook is a curry of mutton.
-So, originally it would be curried goat.
Although you still get it with curried goat, you're using mutton.
When I used to go out with all the different little groups of children
and I says "curried goat", their little faces and they says, "It's a pet."
So I said, "Oh, my God. I better use mutton."
So this is mutton, they all says...
Mutton is a much under appreciated meat,
but because it's hung for at least two weeks,
it's juicier and more flavoursome than the more expensive lamb.
And it's perfect for slow cooking dishes like curries and casseroles.
-What's in there, Connie?
-I've got the curry powder in.
I've put some carrots in, I put some celery in and,
naturally you have to put our friend the Scotch bonnet, and the garlic.
-What sort of curry powder?
-Oh, I use a mild madras.
A lot of people believing that Caribbean food is overly spiced.
-It is not. It must be...just be mellow.
Because my dad have a theory of saying,
"It is a sin for a man to eat his food and cry at the same time."
So, if his food is too hot that it's going to bring tears to your eyes,
my dad says no, "It's a sin."
# Love in a bowl Going into the Dutch pot... #
Inherited from the Dutch settlers, a well seasoned Dutch pot or Dutchie,
is the ultimate non stick pan and is perfect for long slow cooking.
-Connie, who taught you to cook?
-Oh, my great grandmother.
Yeah. Old Matilda.
Everything is from a learning tree.
-And you have to learn from the old.
You'll never forget that person.
You know, in the Caribbean, all over the Caribbean, we'll never cook food exact.
You always left one for the passing stranger. There's always a portion of food left over.
Right, we'll just check the meat to see if everything's OK. There it is, cooking in its own juice.
-Oh, it smells great, Connie.
And it's not sticking, it's not burning.
-No, no, no, no, it's not burning. Just...
-That's your pot.
And you just put it on the Dutchie, make the noise - Maaaer!
-And we'll go off now and we'll do the dumplings.
Mate, Connie's dumplings are the simplest in the world.
She just mixes together self raising flour, salt, margarine and some water.
Some ladies might get it wrong and think,
"Oh, my God, that's gone wrong." Yeah? It hasn't.
All you have to do is just common sense, get a little bit more...
-And bring it in. And when you're using your hands now,
just like pastry, see, but you don't mould so hard because you want some air to get into it and lift it.
And that's all it is.
It's so simple and yet so powerful in a Caribbean household.
-See? See the loaf?
-I see the loaf, yeah.
-It's a Jamaican dumpling.
'These dumplings are Johnny cakes or, journey dumplings.'
And they mustn't cook too quick because if they're too quick,
-they're not cooked inside.
They came from the plantation days when the worker's wives
would make filling, long lasting food for their husband's journey to work.
-Love in a pot!
-Love in a pot!
Dumplings are philosophy and pot love, that's it.
Is it all ready? Can we eat?
-Now we can get ready to eat.
-So shall we?
-Gentlemen, after you.
That's it. The food is nearly ready and Connie's daughter Charlotte is helping set up the feast.
What a birthday meal.
It may not be traditional to us, but in Connie's family it doesn't get any better than this.
Piping hot Saturday soup...
And curried mutton served with Johnny cakes and Jamaican rice,
cooked in coconut milk with kidney beans.
And, right on cue, some of the family have turned up
to share one of the best takeaways we've ever tasted.
-Oh, let's start with the soup.
-Charlotte, do the honours.
-Go on, Charlotte.
-I'm going to put a little bit of everything on here...
Be honest, is Saturday soup part of the great family tradition then?
-The soup is the most important part, I'd say, for me.
Can you make sure I've got a hard dumpling in there, please?
-That's food that makes you grin.
-Big people soup that is. Not for children.
-A big feast.
-Big people soup.
-When we come in here there's a variety of everything.
So you can't say, "Mum, can you cook me some mutton today?"
-Or, "Can you cook me a surprise?"
-It's there, isn't it?
-It's already here.
-You've got a menu!
-This is the best!
-And it's not greasy, is it?
Shall I pour everybody a drink?
Connie's sky juice, is made of condensed milk, pineapple juice and nutmeg.
A bit indulgent, but a real treat on a birthday.
-Well, cheers, everybody.
-I tell you, I want to come here for me birthday party.
-Yes. For sure.
We're having a recipe fair.
-A big tent, a big, big top. Loads of fun.
And we'd love you and the family to come.
-Cook some food, swap some recipes, talk with like minded people about the fair.
-Just hang out and have a good time with us.
-Oh, that's fantastic.
And about a couple of hundred other mums.
-Yeah. That would be nice.
-Bring your sky juice.
Oh, it great day. We'd like to propose a toast to you all.
For all the birthdays we've got yet to come. Cheers!
Kingy, that mutton with dumplings is amazing and a bit different too.
It's going to be a real treat for our guests at the banquet.
-Bye, boys. Bye.
What a great international feel to birthday celebrations, mate.
# Celebration time, come on! #
Well, it's great. We've got an English mum, a Greek mum and now a Caribbean mum.
That's it, dude. Welcome to the international tent of food love.
The perfect combination of birthday treats, for a grand birthday banquet.
Yvonne's classic sausage plait, a must for kids of any age.
Ira's dolmades to stimulate our palates and get the party going.
And Connie's mutton curry, which will bring spice and colour to our celebration.
Dude, don't forget our dishes - summer berry trifle
and our own favourite savoury treats, cottage pie and shepherd's pie.
Well, Kingy, after months of touring the country,
the day of our last recipe fair has arrived.
So, I wonder how they're getting on.
-Yeah? Well, it looks all right, doesn't it?
And it's going to be better than ever.
-So let's roll up our sleeves and give the team a hand.
We've got a big top where we'll be cooking one more birthday recipe,
and three other tops where the visitors can come,
share their recipes and taste other people's birthday favourites.
In the little top, Gerard Baker our food historian,
will be collecting recipes and passing them on to keep birthday traditions alive.
That's my contribution to the recipe tent
because I realised that I hadn't written one yet.
So, this is our family's everyday cake,
which is called a Dr Field cake,
-which my gran Elsie used to make for us.
Caster sugar, free range eggs. Oh! It frugal cake, Gerard.
It is. There's not a lot in it, but then, if you've got good butter and good eggs, what more do you need?
-Well it's true, actually.
-Sugar and flour would help. That would help!
I mean, you know, cos otherwise you'd have an omelette, wouldn't you, really?!
'And we'll end our recipe fair with the ultimate birthday party,
'where the mums we met on our journey will be cooking their family favourites.'
-The mum's tent.
-This is it?
-Isn't it great?
-First things first.
That's your Hairy Bikers Mums Know Best aprons.
-Oh, thank you.
Standard issue, for all those in service.
We've got the ingredients table.
-All these tables you can use for your prep.
-Come on, girls. Come on!
-We will. We'll work as a team.
-Will do. Absolutely.
-See you later.
-Your lid's dry. How long do we wait till it simmers?
-No, no, no. Full on, straight away, please.
With our VIP mums getting to know each other
and getting to grips with their new kitchen,
it's time for us to open the recipe fair and greet our guests.
And, mate, just look, hundreds of mums and dads have turned up,
with their recipes and their favourite birthday dishes.
That's it. Our birthday celebration is officially open.
-What have you got?
-Cinnamon rolls. Somebody's had a bite.
-On the train!
-What have you?
-My mam's chocolate cake.
-You know it's your birthday when you've got a chocolate cake.
It's all about sharing and tasting each other's food.
And that's what our guests are doing all around us.
At every fair in our other top, we ask guest cooks to come and cater for all of our visitors.
And share their ideas, and some of their best recipes.
Today it's the Bradford Curry Project.
They're used to feeding a crowd.
Twice a week, they cook for homeless and underprivileged people in Bradford.
But today, they're cooking for lucky old us.
We're doing some onion bhajees first.
One of my colleagues is making a curry called mutter paneer which is basically yoghurt and peas.
Back at the mums' tent it all seems to be going very well.
They're helping each other and sharing the workload.
And I was going to my children,
"My hands was made for being a boxer so I can hold it."
But really and truly if you've got nice dainty hands,
you should put it in a tea towel. But I'll just do the mummy thing. Ah!
Oh, OK. There you go. There it is.
In our little top, food historian Gerard, is already mobbed by mums
donating their recipes, and with dishes for him to taste.
Smell this, this is fantastic.
We need smellyvision. Be careful.
Don't whiff too hard because you might inhale a little bit too much.
-Alcohol. Very good.
-Oh, wow that is...
-Is that tapioca?
It's frumenty. It's made of wheat.
'Frumenty is a sort of porridge dating back to the Middle Ages.
'To make it, wheat or barley in colder countries, was cooked in milk, spices and alcohol.'
So where does the recipe come from?
We all make at Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve.
You'd never get up for Christmas morning if you ate all of that.
-A thick version of eggnog. It has all those lovely Christmas flavours in.
-Or like the Scottish cranachan.
-You know with the whiskey and the oatmeal.
But it's the barley and that that gives it such a lot of body.
-It's like a rice pudding on steroids, isn't it?
What else have we got? What else have we got?
Well, where's Michelle because we've got a very special birthday treat here which are...
-they're called sau tau pau. Bau. Is that right?
-Sau tau bau.
-It was meant to represent peaches because in Chinese tradition, peaches represent longevity.
Traditionally they're made and given to people on their 60th birthday,
because many years ago people didn't live until 60.
-Was it the Queen of the West that...
-She used to give them as presents.
-Had an immortal peach tree.
She did. And, if you were lucky she gave them to you for your birthday.
-They're the most amazing looking thing we've had all week.
-Peachy birthday buns.
I like the idea of that.
-Oh, they're great.
-They're lovely, aren't they?
Well, I'm going to cut all these up so everyone can have a share.
Get the recipes on the wall and then we can all share.
-And we'd better get on, hadn't we?
-We have. We have a party to prepare.
And if you want to try that recipe,
or any of the other ones we've collected at the recipe fair,
you'll find them on our website.
Back in the mums' top, Connie, Yvonne and Ira are grafting away.
Not only cooking up their dishes for the birthday banquet, but sharing top tips with the rest of the guests.
Can you tell us what's in the sausage meat, please?
In the sausage meat I've got onions, that are finely chopped, and some herbs.
I mean, you can change that. If you want a spicy sausage plait,
then add some chilli, add some garlic.
It's entirely up to you what you want to do.
Across the field in the other top, a crowd is gathering to taste the food
that our friends from the Bradford Curry Project, have prepared.
Working every week to provide free meals to people in need,
they are used to catering for hearty appetites.
I'm cooking a tarka dal which is lentils and spices
that are fried off with ghee and onions and garlic.
As you know, if there's any curry up for grabs, me and the Myers have got to be first in line.
-Bradford is blessed with some of the best food in Britain, isn't it?
-It certainly is.
But for your birthday now, we would very often go out and have a curry.
-You know, it is a treat. It's something you look forward to.
-I'm just going to cook you a few onion bhajees.
Do you have regulars?
Oh, absolutely. Some people are in a rut. They haven't moved on in their life.
Some are drugs, alcoholics, some have other reasons. Whatever they have, we don't ask their reason.
-My job is to provide a meal. Give them some comfort for an hour, an hour and a half.
Then they go back to the life where they came from.
And we go back to ours.
'Mate, I've got such respect for what they do, cooking for the homeless.
'It really shows how good food brings people together.'
Oh, it's spicy. It's nice.
That was absolutely gorgeous.
I'm waiting in case she's not quite finished with them all, so...
Two chances of that, fat and slim.
Dave, the fair's going from strength to strength.
The weather, the mums, the recipes.
Yeah. And like any fair worth its name, it's time for some not so serious fun and games.
So let's gather the troops.
Welcome to the high tech, low tech challenge! Yeah ha hey!
-And this week it's whisks. Do you know what I mean, there's whisks?
We've got whisks from the very primitive, to the very sophisticated.
'Whisks are an essential kitchen utensil for making perfect sauces
'or, to beat eggs, especially the whites.
'Gerard, who's a real history anorak, has been busy making a whisk out of twigs.
'Naturally, it was the first type of whisk.
'Then we've got the rotary egg beater, invented in 1870 by American, Turner Williams.
'It's still really popular today.
'The balloon whisk is the most common one in our kitchens today.
'Probably because it was the first whisk used on TV in the '50s.
'The flat whisk is a variation on the balloon whisk,
'but used mainly for sauces,
'so I don't expect it to do that well with egg whites.
'And in the high tech category, we've got a hand held automatic whisk with two rotating beaters,
'invented by Herbert Johnston in 1908.
'And a much revered food mixer, which has been helping mums across the world, since the same period.
'And it's my turn to use the gadget, Kingy.'
Now, we need to decide which one is the best. So we're not going to get that with whisking the eggs.
We want you to separate the eggs, and it's the whites we want.
-So it's the first to firm peaks, is the winner.
We've got a Ninja in our midst.
I bet you this lady has separated more eggs in her lifetime,
-than we could ever hope.
-She just looks the type.
-Remember it's the whites we're after.
-Firm peaks. Count to three.
Here, hold on, hold on!
Put your eggs back in the thingy, you lot.
You stop leading them astray.
-Three, two, one.
'The point of whisking or beating raw egg whites,
'is to incorporate air bubbles which make it change colour,
'and can increase the volume by up to eight times.'
Peak, you ... thing!
-I think I'll just get a cup of tea!
-Oh, I'm running out of steam.
'And it's the same effect when you cook them.
'Like in a souffle, the air bubbles heat up and expand, making the souffle rise.'
I think I'm there.
'The electric food mixers are definitely the winners,
'they're perfect for the job.
'But there is only one way to check if the other whisks can make firm peaks.'
Right, that's interesting. See if it works with Kingy's.
'You know what, Kingy?
'If you've got a few bob, go electric.
'If not, get a rotary egg beater.
'Not really the most scientific test, but they all did the job.
'And frankly, it just depends how much exercise you want when you're beating your eggs.
'Back in the little top, Gerard is collecting plenty of mums'
'birthday favourites, from all around the world.
We've such a delicate but beautiful book here, Helen and Kathy.
This is your grandmother's handwritten recipe book.
Almost too delicate to... to turn over.
But you've very kindly resurrected a recipe for us from it, which is this lovely damp gingerbread.
-Tell us about your food memories of her.
-She used to make us eat wholemeal bread with ice cream.
That sounds pretty, pretty good actually.
When you're children, anything with ice cream is good, isn't it?
and quite a bizarre collection of recipes in this old book of hers
-with brain cake and fish jelly and...
Things that I might be glad you didn't bring those today.
Are you OK if we share these with everyone?
-Yeah. Please do.
-We've not tried it yet.
Absolutely... oh, the smell of that.
-Elizabeth, you've brought along a beautiful pie and it's not a British recipe, is it?
-It's from Malta.
-Fantastic. And, what makes it Maltese?
-It's a basic meat and tomato base.
-With ricotta and eggs on the top. Right.
-And then there's puff pastry.
But I think in Malta they tend to use aubergine in the middle of those, as well.
-Is it something that you would make at home?
She used to make it when we were kids and I've made it for my daughter as well.
-She loves it.
-Oh, it's amazing, all in layers.
-It has pasta in it as well.
Great. I love the idea of having pasta, meat and cheese all in a pie.
It's like a... sometimes in Scotland you see little Scotch pies,
raised Scotch pies and they'll have macaroni cheese in,
or cheesy beans or cheese beans and sausages.
It's bonkers what you can put in a pie. Have a taste.
That's so like Ira's bastichio, but in a pie.
Kingy, it seems that Mediterranean mums have been swapping recipes for centuries.
But now we're finding their best loved secrets in our everyday British food.
Meanwhile in the mums' top, the girls are swapping tips
and putting the finishing touches to their dishes.
You're getting the custard and then you get the coconut on top of it as well.
-Yes. You get the Caribbean on it.
-Oh, you didn't think of that, did you?
We think it's traditional English,
but really all food has some form of other parts of the world in it.
-There you go.
Dude, after trying everybody else's food,
it's time for us to share one of our birthday recipes.
And with everybody gathered in the big top, we'd better make a move.
It's funny, there's been so much talk about birthdays.
And I get really excited. It's like that thing when you're a kid.
Have you sat there by the front door and you wait for that letterbox to open,
and your cards to come through in a cascade?
-And postal orders.
-I used to get a cheque from my Uncle Gordon.
-Oh, it was brilliant.
£5 a month from my Uncle Gordon, and 15 quid when it was your birthday.
Mega. I put it in my mam's account and never saw it again.
-Yeah, that wasn't a present, that was maintenance.
So what we're doing today is something that's got real history,
a real kind of, for you, a real personal family history.
It's the humble, yet impressive, snow queen.
The first time I came across the dessert known as snow queen, was at your house on Christmas Day.
-Yeah, it was.
-But it is like a birthday thing, it's a celebratory thing.
It was an alternative to Christmas pudding, and it was Margaret, his mother in law, came with this thing.
And it's like a stem ginger base, you know the crystallised ginger?
So get some ginger, first chop it finely.
'And with the ginger, the other main ingredient is double cream.'
We do that in a provocative sort of way, so it looks like Nigella.
You take a whisk. Preferably one with, not made out of sticks,
and you beat it, to firm peaks.
If you beat it too much, the cream will break down and you've lost your queenliness.
So you've got to get that right point.
'Once the cream is beaten, gently fold in the chopped ginger,
'a shot of brandy, some sugar and broken meringue.'
If you were to put kind of like glace cherries and almonds in this,
it would end up like a frozen nougat dessert.
Or you can kind of experiment with it. I mean, there's loads of desserts now that involve meringue.
I mean, an Eton mess, it's like a pavlova that somebody's dropped.
Lemon meringue pie. But this one, a similar vibe, but frozen, it works.
And it could be even a question, from Newcastle.
Am I right? Or am I meringue?
The syrup from the ginger... a final flourish... drizzle that in.
And that's nice and sweet. This kind of tempers the brandy.
Now we take a bowl, oil it and line it with cling film.
And we pour that in there and put it in the freezer,
and when it sets solid, it's like a frozen igloo.
-Obviously it's lumpy.
-Just like your bechamel, that.
Put it in the freezer, for about eight hours or overnight,
and it's something, obviously before your dinner party,
-you can make individual ones or you can do it in advance.
Now, obviously seven hours and 20 minutes, that would just be plain silly, wouldn't it?
So we get to utter those immortal words.
ALL: Here's one I made earlier.
Ee, they're great. It's like playing to the Blue Peter crowd, isn't it?
-Right. Go on. Pop your queen.
Oh, you old romantic, you.
Fabulous! Now we like to serve it with like a simple chocolate sauce.
'So simply melt some butter, add dark cocoa powder mixed with sugar
'to take the bitter edge off the cocoa, and some cream. And voila!'
It's a proper chocolate sauce, like you'd get when you were a kid.
It's just like tarmac when it melts on a summer's day.
Oh, wouldn't you be chuffed if you got this on your birthday?
-You would? Oh, Dave.
It's what I love about you. Less is more.
What do you think?
And like for all birthday treats, we need some candles and a birthday boy. Hey!
I've never seen anything quite as beautiful.
Well, it's not really your birthday either, but there you go.
-All the best, mate.
-Oh, that's nice.
-Make a wish.
-Gerard, watch your nasal hair!
Right. Come on. I think we've got to taste this.
-Yes. Come on.
-What do you reckon, dude?
-He's dropped it!
-It's spot on.
-Oh, it's good, isn't it?
Oh, we've got to let you taste this.
I don't know where to start. I feel guilty.
-It was his birthday yesterday.
Kingy, your mother in law Margaret's special birthday treat, is a success.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the snow queen.
'Mate, I think we can all be proud.'
What a beautiful day to celebrate birthdays and family cooking.
We've gathered hundreds of recipes, and people have shared and tasted each other's dishes.
-Thank you for a lovely day.
-Oh, thank you.
-This is my birthday treat, it was my birthday.
-It's your birthday?!
I've got one really good one though. I haven't got the measurements. I got the snow queen.
The snow queen, it's a 150 grams.
Oh, you can just mix anything, it'll come out right.
-Pan haggerty. That's Si's mam's.
-Oh, yeah it is, yeah it is.
And now for the icing on the cake, a fabulous banquet
to celebrate what people really want to eat on their birthday.
For our birthday celebration, we've invited a selection of food lovers,
as well as the friends and families of our VIP mums.
Well, I think our ladies have done you proud. Welcome!
'Welcome to our Mums Know Best Birthday buffet,
the culmination of our culinary journey.
'The first mum is Ira, and with her Greek Cypriot heritage, she's made the mighty dolmades.
'In her family, a birthday part wouldn't be a party without them.'
We have Connie.
Now, Connie's dumplings are amazing.
'Connie's mutton curry and fried dumpling may not be what you'd expect on your birthday,
'but it's definitely putting the spice into ours.
'Yvonne's traditional cuisine is a winner.
'Her succulent sausage plait, which is her own daughter's favourite,
'and a Manchester tart, especially for Dave.
'And served alongside these great dishes, our own birthday favourites.
'Our mams' - the shepherd's and cottage pies.
'Our mighty summer berries trifle.
'And your mother in law's snow queen, now a King family classic.'
So, please dig in. Savouries first, and bring your plates.
-No nicking the trifle!
-Come on, everybody up. Let's go.
Our journey has shown us that these dishes are what people
in our modern Britain, are actually choosing for their birthdays.
And the rule is, there is no rule.
From traditional to eccentric,
on your birthday you get to eat what you fancy.
Well, as they say, "Life's too short, eat dessert first."
Well, it's because you've been eating cake all week.
I have. I know.
What would your birthday favourite be?
Probably meat and potato pie.
I think your mutton curry's pretty high on my list actually, now.
Is there any sausage plait left? I had my curry first, then I was going to go up for the sausage plait.
Oh, I don't know. I might have to fight you for that.
-Oh, hey, there's not. You had the lot.
-Is there not?
Oh! It's gone. There's a few crumbs.
-There you go.
-I don't want crumbs.
Oh, look, look, look. There's a bit of meat there.
'I'd rather savoured the sausage plait.
'Come on, Kingy, I know what'll cheer you up.
'I've heard rumours that it's one of our guest's birthday tomorrow.
'Tomorrow? Dude, that's good enough for me.'
You can't have a birthday cake without a birthday girl, can we?
-Come on, me little green goddess.
Hey! Happy birthday, Rosie.
Right. Let's get stuck in.
-You've got to have a...
-Oh, there you go, girl.
Connie's dumplings were amazing. And for pudding, obviously my birthday cake, but the trifle was amazing.
The best trifle I've ever had. But don't tell my grandma.
The curry was... got to be the best. Absolutely perfect.
And the lady, Connie who cooked it,
said if she'd had more time it would have been even better. How? Perfect.
The snow queen as well, it was absolutely lovely.
Not too sweet but just sweet enough and just the right mixture of everything. Lovely.
I've never tried it before, but the Manchester tart, absolutely fantastic.
I'm going to be asking for that again.
My favourite sweet was the snow queen.
As you can see, I've licked the plate clean. Sorry, mum.
'It's fair to say that everybody loves birthdays, and the memories that go with them.'
'It's about sitting down with your family and your friends, to share the food you love the best.'
-There you go, mate.
-Cheers. Thank you.
-A birthday cake.
-You cannot have a birthday party without a birthday cake.
I tell you what, though, I've got quite a few more ideas now
about what I want for my birthday next year.
-Happy birthday, mate.
'Kingy, it's all over. But hasn't it been incredible?
'Not only have we been all over Britain, we've met dozens of mums keeping great home cooking alive.
'And, dude, we've discovered what an amazing breadth of culinary talent there is in this country.'
From family favourites and simple suppers,
to grand picnics and Sunday lunches,
Britain has a hugely diverse food heritage
which is being kept alive by the nation's mums.
I'm so excited, I don't know where to start.
It's been a real privilege to be able to bring mums together
to share and taste their families' most cherished dishes.
-Hot biscuits straight out of the oven.
And, if any of you mums out there want to share your family treats,
please go to our website,
where you'll also find all the recipes from the series.
It's a legacy, something that's going to go on.
And you can volunteer to take part next time we hit the road.
And that's what brings people together, the food.
So, people at home, keep on sharing those recipes
cos there's nought like your mam's cooking.
Great food, great people!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best is a celebration of the very best of home cooking in Britain. Si and Dave have toured the nation hunting out Britain's lost family recipes - those forgotten gems and secret scribbles that have been handed down through the generations but are in danger of being lost forever.
On your one special day, you deserve the best dish on the menu and who better to steer you in the right direction than the Hairy Bikers? Join Si King and Dave Myers as they visit three mums and discover what they hold dearest for the day of many happy returns.
The lads rustle up a summer berry trifle, while our mums treat the boys to such varied dishes as a Manchester tart, Greek stuffed vine leaves and a Caribbean Saturday soup courtesy of a Jamaican mum who wants to spread the love of food to the world.
The celebration climaxes in a field filled with nearly 200 mums tasting and sharing their favourite dishes.