Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets episode 1: Mary visits Highclere Castle, the real-life Downton Abbey, home to the eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and renowned as the setting for some of the most lavish and influential weekend house parties in history. Mary discovers what it takes to keep a home like this going in today’s world, meeting everyone from the family to the house staff and the estate’s loyal posse of gamekeepers. Inspired by what she discovers, Mary takes to the estate kitchen where she creates a delicious spread, from raspberry tartlets to gamekeeper’s stew and an elaborate menu for a grand finale dinner.
In this series, Mary Berry discovers the rich history of our nation’s greatest stately homes through the prism of food. 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.
Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets episode 1
Mary Berry shows you how to make the and easy gooseberry fool recipe that’s spiked with fragrant elderflower. Serve with a very crisp biscuit.
- Put the gooseberries, sugar and cordial in a saucepan. Cook on a high heat until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit is soft. Remove from the heat and reserve a quarter of the cooked gooseberries.
- Blend the remaining cooked gooseberries in a blender or food processor, then sieve to remove the skins. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk the cream in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Fold in the yoghurt and fold in the blended gooseberries. Divide between six glasses.
- Leave the glasses in the fridge for at least 2 hours, to allow the fool to thicken.
- To serve, spoon the remaining gooseberries over the top of the fool and decorate with the mint, if using. Serve with honey melts.
Cannon of lamb with celeriac potato cake
Cannon of lamb is also known as loin fillet – a lovely, tender cut that only needs a quick roast, served here with crisp celeriac potato cakes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- To make the potato cakes, grate the potato and celeriac into a bowl using a coarse grater. Squeeze to drain all the water out, then tip onto a clean tea towel and squeeze again to ensure that every drop has been removed. Season with salt and pepper. Split into four and shape each portion into a cake (similar to a fish cake). Set aside.
- To make the lamb, brush the loins with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a high heat and fry them for 30 seconds on each side, or until browned. Lay the rosemary in a roasting tin, sit the browned lamb on top and roast for 8 minutes. Remove and leave to rest – the lamb will remain pink inside.
- To make the gravy, heat the butter in a pan, add the flour and whisk until combined. Gradually whisk in the stock and port and bring to the boil. Add the redcurrant jelly and gravy browning. Simmer until smooth and glossy.
- To cook the potato cakes, heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes for about 5–6 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and crisp.
- Add the mint to the gravy just before serving. Carve each loin into four slices on the diagonal. Divide the potato cakes between four plates. Sit two pieces of lamb on top of each potato cake and pour the gravy around the edge. Serve.
Raspberry tartlets – Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets episode 1
Here’s an impressive summer dessert to have prepared ahead of guests coming over. You will need to leave plenty of time to bake the tart cases blind and for the crème pat to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and blend again until it is just combined and forms a ball.
- Dust a work surface with flour and tip the dough onto it. Roll the pastry out with a rolling pin. Cut it into eight rounds a little bigger than the tins (as you will need to line the sides also). Line each tin with a disc of pastry and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- To bake blind, prick the pastry bases, line the tins with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the beans and paper and return the bases to the oven for 5 minutes, until cooked and a pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, to make the crème pâtissière, put the milk and vanilla in a saucepan. Heat until it is just scalding (you’ll just be able to dip your finger in).
- Put the sugar, flour and egg in a mixing bowl and whisk. Pour in half the hot milk and whisk until smooth. Pour in the remaining hot milk.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring all the time, until very thick – this could take about 2–3 minutes.
- Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until cold. Once cold, pour in the double cream, while whisking constantly. Spoon the crème pâtissière into the tart cases and chill in the fridge.
- To make the glaze, heat the jam in a saucepan with a tablespoon of water and whisk to combine. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a small bowl.
- Arrange the raspberries standing upright on the crème pâtissière and brush the warm glaze over the top.