|photo courtesy of kitchensavvy|
Carola Dunn was born and grew up in England. Most of her books are set there, though she’s lived in the US for several decades. She is the author of twenty-two Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, three Cornish mysteries, and thirty-two Regencies. Learn more about Carola and her books at her website.
In my new book, Superfluous Women, the 22nd Daisy Dalrymple mystery set in England in the 1920s, Daisy and her husband Alec, a Scotland Yard detective, are invited to Sunday lunch with friends who have recently moved to a new house. The previous resident was said to have a notable wine cellar, but it's locked and the key has disappeared. Hoping to find a nice vintage overlooked in a corner, Alec picks the lock and discovers a long dead and very pongy body. Everyone has to leave the house in a hurry.
"I suppose no one's going to feel like sitting down to roast beef," Isabel said regretfully. "Oh well, it can be eaten cold, and the gravy will reheat. I can rescue the potatoes, too, and the carrots, but the Yorkshire pudding'll be a dead loss."
In the hope that you won't be finding a body shortly before eating, here is the story on Yorkshire Pudding:
Traditionally, Yorkshire pudding is an accompaniment to roast beef, though the first known published recipe (1737) pairs it with roast leg of lamb. The meat was cooked on a spit over an open fire. The batter pudding was cooked in a pan placed below the meat, in the hottest part of the fire, so that it absorbed drippings from the meat. The best Yorkshire pudding is still made with beef drippings.
In poorer households, where a joint of meat was a rare treat, the pudding was eaten first, with gravy. By the time the meat was served, the edge was taken off appetites and they were satisfied with a smaller portion. These days, it's usually served along with the meat, often for Sunday lunch.
My mother made the best Yorkshire pudding I've ever had. The recipe she gave me is headed Pancakes (in Britspeak pancakes are crêpes) or Yorkshire. The same batter can be used for either. The ingredients are few. The art is all in the cooking.
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg or 2 medium (1 egg works fine for crêpes; most recipes call for 2 for Yorkshire.)
1/2 pint (imperial=10 fl. oz.) milk
Add salt to flour in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg slightly and stir into flour. Add the milk gradually, beating with a wooden spoon. When thoroughly blended, allow to sit for an hour or more (preferably not refrigerated as cold batter doesn't rise properly).
When you take your roast from the oven for its "resting" period, turn up the heat to 450. Pour about 3 tablespoons of the drippings into a 9” x 12” pan (or use the roast pan if the right size and pour off most of the drippings.) You can lightly oil or butter the pan if preferred, though you won't get the best flavor. Put the pan in the oven and leave to heat to 450.
Stir the batter gently a couple of times. Pour into sizzling-hot pan and return to oven quickly. Cook for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour. DO NOT open the oven door to peek or the pudding will deflate (Ovens differ so it's hard to be precise but you can always trim off a burned edge.)
Cut into squares and serve sizzling hot with meat and plenty of gravy.
And please invite me to dinner.
In England in the late 1920s, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, on a convalescent trip to the countryside, goes to visit three old school friends in the area. The three, all unmarried, have recently bought a house together. They are a part of the generation of "superfluous women"--brought up expecting marriage and a family, but left without any prospects after more than 700,000 British men were killed in the Great War.
Daisy and her husband Alec--Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, of Scotland Yard--go for a Sunday lunch with Daisy's friends, where one of the women mentions a wine cellar below their house, which remains curiously locked, no key to be found. Alec offers to pick the lock, but when he opens the door, what greets them is not a cache of wine, but the stench of a long-dead body.
And with that, what was a pleasant Sunday lunch has taken an unexpected turn. Now Daisy's three friends are the most obvious suspects in a murder and her husband Alec is a witness, so he can't officially take over the investigation. So before the local detective, Superintendent Underwood, can officially bring charges against her friends, Daisy is determined to use all her resources (Alec) and skills to solve the mystery behind this perplexing locked-room crime.