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Strange Name, Great Taste — British Isles Friday

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! Did you enjoy our links last week? I got a kick out of the video Becca found to demonstrate the variety of British accents. What have you read, watched, or participated in this week that related to the British Isles? Join us for British Isles Friday using the link list below.

For my post this week, I have another class to describe. A couple of weeks ago, I posted photos from a class offered by the Missouri Botanical Garden called The Unofficial Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea. The same teacher, Jane Muscroft of Queen’s Cuisine, taught Strange Name, Great Taste at the Garden this week. We learned to make these traditional British dishes:

  • Toad in the Hole
  • Bubble and Squeak
  • Spotted Dick

Toad in the Hole is Yorkshire Pudding with sausage links baked into it. The sausage peeking out is supposed to look like the toad. American sausage isn’t much like British sausage, so Jane used bratwurst, the closest equivalent in St. Louis. Toad in the Hole is usually made in a casserole dish but baking it in a muffin tin makes a nice version for single servings. The photo shows Jane putting the sausages in the batter with the mirror above so we can see what’s happening on the counter.

Toad in the Hole

assembling Toad in the Hole

For our side dish, we had Bubble and Squeak. Jane said this was always served on Monday evenings when she was growing up, using the leftover potatoes and vegetables from Sunday dinner. The funny name is supposed to reflect the sound the dish makes as it’s being cooked. Mashed potatoes and vegetables are re-heated in a skillet long enough to give the potatoes a brown crust. Here, Jane is turning over the potatoes so more bits of it get browned.

Bubble and Squeak

Turning over the Bubble and Squeak

Jane also fixed a warm brown onion gravy to go over our savory dishes. Yorkshire Pudding is an airy bread with a silken texture that made a nice contrast to the spicy sausage — the Toad in the Hole. The Brussels sprouts in our Bubble and Squeak provided good color and flavor to the vegetable dish.

Toad in the Hole with Bubble and Squeak

A delicious meal of Toad in the Hole (on the left) and Bubble and Squeak (on the right), all served with a brown Onion Gravy.


For our dessert, we had English custard spooned over Spotted Dick. Spotted Dick is a steamed pudding made with suet (so, unusual for desserts, Spotted Dick is not traditionally vegetarian). Raisins form the “spots.” There doesn’t seem to be an authoritative answer to why it’s named Dick, but that word didn’t have the same connotation in Britain as it does in the US.

Jane made two puddings for our fairly large class, one is in a glass bowl (in the mirror, it’s just to the right of Jane’s neck) that she later covered with wax paper and then put right into a pot for steaming. She shaped the one under her hand into a log which will go into a steamer basket after being wrapped in wax paper. The log-shaped one reminded Jane of another funny name for this dish — Dead Man’s Arm. Before wax paper became cheap and common, a cook might use an old shirt sleeve as the wrapper for the pudding. (Would you rather eat Spotted Dick or Dead Man’s Arm?)

Spotted Dick

Making Spotted Dick


Spotted Dick, as shown here, is traditionally served with a custard sauce. The class liked the comfort food experience of the pudding along with the slight citrus flavor that came from the lemon zest in the Spotted Dick.

Spotted Dick with English Custard

Spotted Dick with custard sauce turned out to be a homey, warm comfort food of a dessert.

new Weekend Cooking logo

Have you eaten Toad in the Hole, Bubble and Squeak, or Spotted Dick?

Since this was a cooking class, I’ll also link to Weekend Cooking. Check out Beth Fish Reads tomorrow for more culinary posts around the web.

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