Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets episode 3: In this edition, Mary Berry visits Powderham Castle in Devon, to spend time with the Earl and Countess of Devon and their two young children. Known as Charlie and AJ, the newest generation of one of Britain’s oldest families are taking up the challenge of running a great stately home, reinventing the castle and the Earldom for the 21st century.
Mary’s time with the family reveals stories of romance and tragedy, as she discovers the attics and secret passages of this extraordinary home. In the historic kitchen she bakes a Devon cream tea and is shown a Powderham classic – curried cockles. She is also inspired to make a delicate peach posset for a Midsummer Eve woodland party the family are throwing to celebrate their two year anniversary at the castle, as well as to thank the local community.
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 3
You will need to leave the posset for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, to get a nice set. Brandy-soaked peaches are the treat at the base of this dessert.
- Put the peaches in a bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds, or just until the skin starts to peel away. Carefully remove from the bowl and dip immediately into cold water. Dry and peel off the skin.
- Cut the peach flesh into 5mm/¼in cubes. Put into a bowl and add the brandy and light muscovado sugar. Toss well, then divide among eight small tumblers or pretty water glasses.
- Meanwhile, add the cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice and heat over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 2 minutes while stirring, then pour into a jug and set aside to cool until lukewarm.
- Pour the lemon cream into the glasses over the fruit. Transfer to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
- Decorate with borage flowers or mint.
Midsummer asparagus, goats’ cheese and fig salad – Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets episode 3
Peel the broad beans for a tender bite, and a vibrant green colour to go with the asparagus and other summery ingredients.
- Bring a medium pan of water to the boil. Add the beans and asparagus and boil for 2–3 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then drain again and peel the broad beans.
- Assemble the salad in a large salad bowl by layering the Little Gem wedges, salad leaves, figs, goats’ cheese, asparagus, broad beans and micro herbs.
- For the dressing, mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad, toss to combine and serve.
Butterfly leg of lamb with flatbreads and herby raita
Leave the lamb to marinate for at least two hours to really get the flavours going. The lamb could also be cooked on the barbecue if you wish.
- Sit the lamb on a board and spread it out in a butterfly shape. Lay cling film on the top and bash the thickest parts of the meat with a mallet, so that the meat is fairly equal in thickness throughout.
- To marinate the lamb, put it in a large dish or freezer bag. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and the zest. Add the honey, coriander, cumin, oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- Mix together until combined and pour over the lamb. Rub the marinade into the meat, cover and put in the fridge for at least two hours.
- To make the raita, mix together the yoghurt, cucumber, mint, dill, ground cumin, lemon zest and pickled cucumbers and a good pinch of salt.
- Put a large griddle pan over a high heat, add the oil and then add the lamb – it will fit snugly. Fry for 10 minutes on each side, or until cooked through but still pink. Transfer to a board, cover in foil and rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Slice the lamb and serve in warmed flatbreads with a dollop of herby raita.