Sometimes one’s looking for a really memorable gift for someone who’s either recently moved to England, or perhaps is returning home after a spell of living here. 

Well, I’ve found the perfect gift that will either introduce them to England and her food, or be a lovely souvenir. 

But it’s not just for them, it’s also a stunning testament for us to our English food heritage and it’s a coffee table book extraordinaire.

And you’ll love it.

Carol Wilson’s Regional Cooking of England

This is a beautiful, lavish, volume that celebrates England’s food.  There are dishes to represent our heritage, old and new, and it’s packed with gorgeous photos.

Sussex Pond Pudding, fruit crumbles, trifles, steak and oyster pie, raised pork pies, toad in the hole, scones, stotties, Bosworth jumbles…

In this book you’ll find everything from old-fashioned favourites and current classics, to less well known historical dishes (a few of which might raise an eyebrow), along with many wonderful local recipes.

The recipes are easy to follow, with accessible ingredients, and achievable in today’s kitchens.


Introductory chapters detail the history of cooking and eating in England, the feasts and festivals, high days and holidays, eating habits and ingredients. 

Discover the delights of the full English breakfast, the tin miner’s meal of a filling Cornish pasty, and a traditional afternoon tea with dainty scones and cucumber sandwiches.

Enjoy the ritual of the classic Sunday lunch. There are childhood classics – shepherd’s pie and jammy tarts – as well as elaborate old-fashioned celebration centrepieces such as raised game pie and wobbling domed blancmange. 

Regional savouries like Sussex Smokies, Pan Haggerty and Yorkshire Parkin, join Bath Buns, Devon Flats, and Goosenargh Cakes. 

It’s published by Lorenz Books,(©anness publishing ltd) at £25, and when you see the quality of the publication, you’ll realise that it’s a bargain.

About the Author

CAROL WILSON is a food writer and historian who has contributed to many publications including The Times, The Illustrated London News, Heritage, Food and Wine, and Gastronomica.

She has appeared on television promoting British food and discussing the history and usage of traditional ingredients. 

Her other books include Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking, The Liquorice Cookbook, and The Bacon Cookbook.

She is a member of the Guild of Food Writers. 

Here are a few of the recipes from the book, to inspire you.

Devilled Kidneys

In the 19th century, hot spicy flavours became very popular, due to the influence of Indian recipes and spices brought back to England during the British Raj.

Recipes for devilled kidneys, for instance, were enjoyed at the breakfast table.

Serves 4

8 slices of country bread

25g/1oz/2 tbsp butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

115g/4oz mushrooms, halved

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

15ml/1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

8 lamb’s kidneys, halved and trimmed

150ml/¼ pint double cream

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Preheat the grill and toast the bread slices until golden brown on both sides, and keep warm.

2 Melt the butter in the pan until it is foaming. Add the shallot, garlic and mushrooms, then cook for 5 minutes, or until the shallot is softened. Stir in the cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for about 1 minute.

3 Add the kidneys to the pan and cook for 3–5 minutes on each side. Finally, stir in the cream and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and slightly thickened.

4 Remove the bread from the rack and place on warmed plates. Top with the kidneys. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Cook’s Tip

If you prefer, the bread can be fried rather than toasted. Melt 25g/1oz/2 tbsp butter in a frying pan and fry until crisp and golden on both sides.

Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Pan-cooked salmon with sorrel sauce

Native to England, sorrel leaves add their lovely tart lemony flavour to this traditional sauce for fresh fish.

In its absence (because sorrel is at its best in spring and early summer), you could try using tender young spinach leaves.  Small new potatoes are the perfect seasonal accompaniment.

Serves 4

4 pieces salmon fillet, each weighing about 175g/6oz

15g/½oz/1½ tbsp butter

10ml/2 tsp olive oil

100g/3¾oz fresh sorrel leaves

150ml/¼ pint double cream

salt and ground black pepper

1 Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the salmon and fry over medium heat for 3–5 minutes until golden brown.

2 Turn the fish over and continue cooking the second side for about 3 minutes until it is almost cooked through. Lift out and keep warm (the salmon will finish cooking while you make the sauce).

3 Chop the sorrel and add it to the hot pan. Cook, stirring, until wilted and soft. If the sorrel gives off lots of liquid, bubble it gently until reduced to a tablespoonful or two.

4 Stir in the cream, bring just to the boil and bubble gently for no more than 1 minute. Add seasoning to taste and serve the sauce with the salmon.


This recipe also works well with other fish, such as trout and sea bass.

Goosnargh Cakes

These rich little biscuits come from the village of Goosnargh, near Preston in Lancashire; although their origin is unclear, they were baked specially for Easter and Whitsuntide.

Caraway seeds were a common ingredient in 16th- and 17th-century recipes, as they were believed to aid digestion.

Strangely, it was also believed that caraway seeds discouraged the eater from stealing.

Makes 15

175g/6oz butter, plus extra for greasing

200g/7oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g/2oz/4 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 Grease two baking trays.

2 Rub the butter into the flour in a bowl, until well combined. Stir in the sugar and seeds and work to a fairly dry dough.

3 Roll out on a lightly floured surface, about 5mm/¼in thick, and cut into rounds using a 6cm/2½in cutter.

4 Sprinkle with sugar and place on the baking trays, leaving room for the biscuits to spread. Leave to stand for at least 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

5 Bake the biscuits for 10–15 minutes until pale golden. Cool on the trays for at least 15 minutes before removing carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.

Raspberry and hazelnut meringue cake

Grace an English summer tea party with a sumptuous meringue cake, full of whipped cream and seasonal berries.

Toasted and ground hazelnuts add a nutty flavour to the meringue rounds, which are sandwiched together with fresh cream and raspberries.

You can store the baked meringue bases, unfilled, for one week.

Serves 8

butter, for greasing

150g/5oz hazelnuts

4 egg whites

200g/7oz caster sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

For the filling

300ml/1½ pint whipping cream

700g/1lb8oz raspberries

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease and line the bases of two 20cm/8in round cake tins or pans with baking parchment.

2 Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Leave to cool slightly. Rub the hazelnuts vigorously in a clean dish towel to remove the skins. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/300°F/gas 2.

3 Grind the nuts in a food processor, until they are the consistency of coarse sand.

4 Put the egg whites into a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Beat in 2 tbsp of the sugar, then, using a plastic spatula, fold in the remaining sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time. Fold in the vanilla and hazelnuts.

5 Divide the mixture between the cake tins and smooth the top level. Bake for 1¼ hours until firm.

6 Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the inside edge of the tins to loosen the meringues. Turn out to go cold on a wire rack.

7 For the filling, whip the cream. Spread half on one cake round and top with half the raspberries. Top with the other cake round. Spread the remaining cream on top and arrange the rest of the raspberries over the surface. Chill for 1 hour before serving.