Mary Berry – Cook and Share episode 2: Mary travels to the beautiful city of Bristol. Her connection to the city is extensive: it was here that she had her first job and where her son William studied at university, and it’s currently home to her granddaughter Grace. The largest city in the south west of England, Bristol is a vibrant, multicultural town with a strong community spirit. From the buzzing, recently developed harbor front to the flourishing independent restaurants, Mary is ready to rediscover the city she knew of old.
First stop is a sunrise hot air balloon display. Mary used to watch them float silently above the city, but now she prepares to see then up close. Next, a Michelin-starred restaurant embracing the street art so synonymous with Bristol. Mary is intrigued by the 20-course tasting menu, but having been inspired by the creativity of Bristol and its favorite son Banksy, will she try her hand at spray painting?
New experiences abound, but there’s one place special from Mary’s past she always visits when in Bristol – her beloved late son William’s memorial plaque, a tribute from his university tutor commemorating his life and time spent studying in the city.
Mary will be cooking up her own mouth watering recipes. Her Tuscan chicken and her pear and blueberry galette are firm family favorites. There’s also shakshuka, perfect for sharing and served with deliciously simple garlic parsley flatbreads, cooked overlooking the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Plus a dish bursting with flavor: her prawn and courgette stir-fry.
Dame Mary Rosa Alleyne Hunnings, known professionally as Mary Berry, is an English food writer, chef, baker and television presenter. After being encouraged in domestic science classes at school, she studied catering and shipping management at college. She then moved to France at the age of 22 to study at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, before working in a number of cooking-related jobs.
Berry’s first job was at the Bath Electricity Board showroom and then conducting home visits to show new customers how to use their electric ovens. She would typically demonstrate the ovens by making a Victoria sponge, a technique she would later repeat when in television studios to test out an oven she had not used before. Her catchment area for demonstrations was limited to the greater Bath area, which she drove around in a Ford Popular supplied as a company car.
Her ambition was to move out of the family home to London, which her parents would not allow until she was 21. At the age of 22, she applied to work at the Dutch Dairy Bureau, while taking City & Guilds courses in the evenings. She then persuaded her manager to pay for her to undertake the professional qualification from the French Le Cordon Bleu school.
She left the Dutch Dairy Bureau to become a recipe tester for PR firm Benson’s, where she began to write her first book. She has since cooked for a range of food-related bodies, including the Egg Council and the Flour Advisory Board. In 1966 she became food editor of Housewife magazine. She was food editor of Ideal Home magazine from 1970 to 1973.
Her first cookbook, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, was published in 1970. She launched her own product range in 1994 with her daughter Annabel. The salad dressings and sauces were originally only sold at Mary’s AGA cooking school, but have since been sold in Britain, Germany and Ireland with retailers such as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Tesco. She has also appeared on a BBC Two series called The Great British Food Revival, and her solo show, Mary Berry Cooks, began airing on 3 March 2014.
Pear and blueberry galette
Mary’s pear and blueberry galette is an easy comforting pudding that’s so quick to make, but special enough for a dinner party. It would work well with tinned peaches or apricots as well. If you want to use fresh pears, peel and poach them until tender first.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Grease a 28cm/11in fluted loose-bottomed flan tin.
- Measure the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla into a bowl. Beat together until smooth. Spread the mixture to cover the base of the tin.
- Drain the pear halves and cut each one lengthways into three long strips. Dry with kitchen paper. Arrange cut-side down over the surface of the batter. Scatter the blueberries in between the pears. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until the sponge is lightly golden brown and well risen.
- To glaze, melt the redcurrant jelly in a small saucepan over a low heat. Brush over the hot sponge and fruit to give a shiny glaze.
- Leave until just cool enough to handle, then remove from the tin and serve in wedges. Serve warm with cream or crème fraîche.
Based on a classic creamy chicken dish, Tuscan chicken is one of Mary Berry’s favourites when she needs an easy supper. It’s lovely served with potatoes, rice or pasta.
- Place the chicken in a bowl. Add the flour and half the paprika and season well with salt and pepper. Toss together to coat the chicken.
- Heat the oil in large, deep frying pan over a high heat. Add the chicken and fry for 3–4 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp. Set aside.
- Add the onion and pepper to the unwashed pan and fry for 4–5 minutes over a medium heat, until soft (you may need to add a little extra oil). Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomato purée, tomatoes, wine and stock. Bring to the boil then return the chicken to the pan along with any resting juices. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- Add the cream and spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from the heat, sprinkle in the Parmesan and serve piping hot.
Shakshuka means ‘mix-up’ in Arabic and is found on many breakfast menus. It uses mostly store cupboard ingredients and is infinitely adaptable – try it as a healthy weekend breakfast or an easy dinner to use up any veg languishing in the fridge. Aubergine, feta or spicy sausage are all lovely additions.
- Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer gently, without a lid, for 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the onion is tender. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Using the back of a spoon, make four dips in the sauce and carefully crack an egg into each dip. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer over a gentle heat for about 6 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
- Garnish with parsley and serve immediately with some bread alongside (if using).