Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Six Real Custards and the One You Know

To almost anybody brought up in Britain since the middle of the 20th Century, custard is an essential element of most desserts. Ask the average British person to describe custard and you will be told it is a thickish yellow sauce that is poured over apple pie, spotted dick or rhubarb crumble.

The "custard" that most of us Brits were brought up with is actually not true custard at all. The blame lies with a Mr Alfred Bird - a household name in Britain. He is responsible for the misapprehension with which most of us have lived for years. Let me explain.

But first, what is "custard" really? True custard is milk thickened with egg yolk and usually sweetened. In Britain it is called "Egg Custard". Custard can be made by heating egg yolk and milk in a saucepan.

There are many variations on basic custard. If starch is added to the mix the resulting custard becomes "Blancmange". Blancmange is a form of custard that has been set in a mould; it is a semi-rigid pudding. Flavourings are often added to Blancmange to make chocolate, strawberry and other varieties.

A similar starch thickened custard forms the filling of the popular "Vanilla Slice" (aka "Custard Slice"). It comprises a thick slice of custard between two layers of very flaky pastry. The top is covered in fondant.

Baked custard forms the filling of the equally popular "Custard Tarts". Small pastry tart shells are filled with baked custard and sprinkled with nutmeg.

Posh Custard
If you have ever dined out at a fine food restaurant, you may have seen other custard variants on the dessert menu. Two of the most popular are "Creme Caramel" and "Creme Brulee". Creme Caramel is a baked custard served with a thin sauce of caramelized sugar. Creme Brulee is a baked custard onto which sugar has been melted, by hand, with a very hot naked flame.

Savoury Custard
Custard does not have to a dessert dish. One savoury variant is well-known to most people. It is called "Quiche". A Quiche is a large tart made from unsweetened baked custard into which vegetables or herbs have been added.

Common Custard
So, let's get back to the very famous and popular Mr Bird again. It seems that Mr Bird's wife was allergic to eggs so, early in the 19th Century, he invented a form of "custard" that did not require any egg at all in it's preparation. Bird's Custard is as familiar to the average British person as the nose on his face. But, it is not really a true custard at all. Bird's custard is essentially vanilla-flavoured corn starch. When Bird's Custard Powder is boiled with milk the result is the thick yellow sauce that is familiar to so many British people.

Bird's custard is also available in an "instant" version. Bird's Instant Custard Powder contains powdered milk and sugar and can be prepared by simply mixing it with boiling water.

The nutritional value of custards is questionable. Egg yolk is a rich source of cholesterol while corn starch and sugar are carbohydrates. If you enjoy custard in moderation you can rely on my grandmother's nutritional guideline of "a little of what you fancy does you good".

What Happens When Pennies Disappear on 4th Feb?

On Monday 4th February the Canadian one cent coin will no longer be available. How will this affect you when you shop at Blighty's?

This is what the Bank of Canada recommends:

When you pay by credit card or debit card:
Nothing changes. You will pay the exact amount of your purchase to the penny.

When you pay cash:
If you pay for your purchase in cash, stores will use rounding to determine your change. For example, if your purchase amounts to $24.97 and you hand over $25 you will receive five cents change. If your purchase amounts to $14.98 and you hand over $15 you will receive no change.

The principal is simple; stores will round down to the nearest nickel if the difference is 1 or 2 cents and will round up to the nearest nickel if the difference is 3 or 4 cents.

Free Money at Blighty's
To help our customers with the transition, Blighty's will always round cash transactions down to the nearest nickel during the month of February only.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Batch of Crisps Arrives Thursday

Pugwash Slips by the Excise Men
Two giant containers of smuggled British goodies have been unloaded at Pugwash's secret warehouse this week.

Crisps on Board
On board, apart from the usual mountain of Great British goodies, is the first batch of new Walkers Crisps of 2013.

A Likely Story
The shipment was delayed because the old pirate's ship had to take a detour to avoid the excise men. But, at last the wily captain managed to slip past the King's ships on the St Lawrence and dock under cover of darkness on a beach somewhere near Toronto.

Crisps Arrive Thursday Afternoon
All your favourite flavours should be back on the shelves by Thursday. In the meantime, we still have some of the old batch available on a Buy One Get Free deal.

A Beatles Rehearsal in Orangeville

Well, apart from the fact that half the band members have passed away already, and the band broke up forty-three years ago, is it still possible that you could attend a Beatles practice session right here in Orangeville? Orangeville musician Lee Nolan and Vixen Independent Promotions owner, Sue Ellies, think so.

Lee's Beatles tribute band will be performing locally in the near future. Unlike other Beatles tribute bands, Lee's band gives fans an insight into what a rehearsal session at Abbey Road studios in London might have been like.

Lee spoke with Blighty's this week about his band's show called "The Beatles - A Rehearsal Revisited". Get Lee relaxed and his native Liverpool accent comes out - he doesn't have to fake it like so many other tribute artists.

Blighty's hopes to have tickets to the Orangeville show available in the near future. Watch this space. And while you're waiting, watch this video to catch a sneak preview.

Beatles Posters
By the way; Blighty's still has a few high quality Abbey Road posters available for sale for a ridiculously low price.

The Law Behind "Best Before" Dates


Most of the products in Blighty's Tuck Store are stamped with "Best Before" dates. Many people completely misinterpret these dates and a huge amount of perfectly good food goes to waste as a result. This short article explains why.

Who Determines (UK) "Best Before" Dates
"Best Before" dates are mandated in UK law under the Food Labelling Regulations of 1996. Compliance with the regulations is enforced by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs).

What Does "Best Before" Mean?
"Best before" dates relate to food quality, including taste, texture, aroma and appearance, whilst "use by" dates relate to food safety. The "best before" date is a quality indication used by the manufacturer to indicate that the food will be, assuming correct storage has been maintained, at its best before a certain date. A food which is past its "best before" date should be safe to eat, but may not be at its best quality after this date.

Who Determines "Best Before" Dates?
"Best Before" dates are determined by the manufacturer, packer or EU seller. They are based on a "reasonable expectation" that the product will be in good condition until the date indicated. It is important to note that there is no mandate for testing to verify that the date indicated is realistic.

Are "Best Before" Dates Realistic?
Rather than express an opinion I will use a statement printed on a British beer bottle purchased in Canada:

"Although we are obliged to state a best before date of 2015, like a fine wine or whisky, this mellow golden ale will improve with age for many more years."

In other words, the manufacturer is complying with government regulations while also stating very candidly that the "best before" date on its product is nonsense and should be ignored.

Personal experience of eating products long past their "best before" dates suggests that most are simply labelled in compliance with government bureaucracy and can safely be ignored.

Why Should You Care?
At Blighty's, products that have passed their "best before" dates are sold at a discount (usually 50%). The cost of this financial loss is built-in to the price of every product in the store. However, wise shoppers who understand what these dates really mean can save money by purchasing reduced price products that have passed their "best before" date.

On the other side of the coin, shoppers who strictly adhere to these dates can depend on this: they will have to spend more of their income on food and will be responsible for contributing to the colossal amount of perfectly good food entering the world's landfills every year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cheap Maltesers Save You From Bear Attacks

May is the New January
Look, I know you are trying to get fit after Christmas but, let's face it, it's just too darn cold out there to go jogging. So postpone your New Year's resolution until spring.

Lashings of Cold Wind
Now, do like the animals do and build up your body mass to withstand the cruel weather we get at this time of year.

Help is at Hand
Maltesers contain chocolate and chocolate contains certain substances that make you feel good. That's just what the doctor ordered. Why suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder)? Just gobble your choccy and feel good instead.

Run Faster Than a Hungry Bear
Maltesers centres are less fattening too (you don't want to overdo it). They are made with light, honeycomb candy that will give you just enough energy to outrun a hungry bear.

By the way, if you go out with a partner remember that you don't have to run faster than the bear ... just faster than your partner.

But Wait! Don't Order Yet!
We are going to double your order. Yes, as they say on TV, for a limited time only, get two boxes of Maltesers for the price of one. Outstanding!

If at First You Don't Succeed, Chai, Chai Again

Hot, Hot, Hot!
The best way to make a good cup of rosy lee is to use boiling water isn't it? But why? Well, the answer is very simple. Tea leaves are an organic substance. Dried tea leaves absorb moisture and can become a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. Boiling water kills the bacteria and sterilizes your cuppa.

Kill! Kill Them All!
So now you know better, will you ever make tea by dunking one of those silly tagged teabags in a cup of hot water again? Nah! Do it properly and boil the brains out of those awful buggy baccy beasts.

The Best Solution
East Indians, Arabs and other Asians have the best idea. They boil their tea in a pan or kettle with herbs and spices and call it "Chai".

Chai Recipe
Give this recipe a try. Mix 2 cups of milk with 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Toss in 2 or 3 bags of your favourite British brew along with a teaspoonful of cardamom, a quarter teaspoonful of nutmeg and continue boiling for a couple of minutes.

By the way, cardamom is a herb that is said to cure all manner of unmentionable ailments of the digestive tract. You can buy it in a jar in most supermarkets. If used to excess nutmeg is a hallucinogen so Simon says don't overdo it.

Whoa, Brown Betty ... bam-a-lam
Pull out the teabags and throw them in your compost bin, then pour the chai into your old Brown Betty ready for immediate serving. Chai tastes naturally sweet so cut back, or hold off, on the sugar. Nice delicious cuppa with no nasties swimming around in it. Good innit?

HP GG...Guinness GG...Gone?

Sure the Leprechauns Took It
It's rich, smooth and feisty ... and very, very popular. But has HP discontinued it's fabulous Guinness Sauce?

It's Behind You!
I picked up what may be the last ever pack of HP Guinness sauce at the importer's warehouse this week. I was warned that it has become "unavailable" and may have been discontinued.

Oh, No it isn't!
Another HP sauce (HP Curry Sauce) disappeared in the same manner a few years ago. And it was followed by HP Mexican Chilli Sauce.

Oh, Yes it is!
Thank goodness the original HP Sauce and HP Fruity sauce are still available, but if you want the HP Guinness Sauce, better come and get it now. And that's no blarney.

New Inexpensive Rhubarb & Vanilla Jam

As British As ...
Here is a delicious new idea for spreading on your toast at brekkers. Couldn't be more British if it tried really. Rhubarb and Vanilla jam from English Fayre, Essex, England.

Real English Rhubarb
It is made with 70% real English rhubarb, vanilla and elderberry juice. Tastes a bit like rhubarb and custard really. Tip: It would probably make a good filling for jam tarts too.

How Much? That's a Good Deal!
Blimey, and it's only $2.99 a jar an'all! Shame it's a special shipment and we might not be able to get it any more; better grab a coupla jars while you can.

Recipe Using 50-Year-Old Ginger Cake

McVities Jamaica Ginger Cake has been around for 50 years and no wonder - it tastes spectacular!

Eat it Your Way
Bung it in your cakehole with lashings of custard, or stick out your pinkie and nibble a slice with a cup of fine tea.

Would you like to get adventurous? How about trying this recipe for Jamaican Ginger Cheesecake?


  • 1 McVities Jamaica Ginger Cake (Blighty's)
  • 1 pack McVities Digestive biscuits (Blighty's)
  • 100g butter
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g creme fraiche (mix 1 tbsp live yogurt with 1 cup heavy cream and leave in a warm place overnight; refrigerate unused portion)
  • 100g demerara sugar (Blighty's)
  • 200ml heavy cream


  • Melt the butter, crumble the biscuits, stir together and press into the base of a flan dish then place in fridge to cool
  • Crumble the cake, mix with cream cheese, icing sugar & creme fraiche and spread over the base. Make a spiral in the top by pressing with a finger. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • Melt the butter, add demerara sugar and stir until dissolved then add heavy cream to make a toffee sauce. Pour toffee sauce into spiral on top of cake. Refrigerate and serve.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prefer Vera Lynn - Want a Free CD?

Long-Haired Layabouts!
Ok, so you either never heard of Pink Floyd or you heard of them and think they were a load of long-haired layabouts who should have done time in the army! And you definitely aren't going to Spot1 Grill in Brampton on Friday to see any tribute shenanigans.

There'll Be Bluebirds
So what's your style of music? Vera Lynn? Cole Porter? Glenn Miller? Yes, they too were great musicians whose songs and melodies will live on for a long time.

Wind Up the Gramophone Grandma
And we have a deal for you. A kind lady dropped off a small collection of CDs (CD: an ancient method of distributing musical recordings before iTunes was invented).

Florins & Tanners
Next time you come shopping and you are waiting for the old steam till to chew up your florins, ask to take a look at "the CDs". One per customer please. Begin the Beguine.

Three Creamy British Tomato Soups for Your Bones

Inside Out
We have had the odd chilly day recently; the kind of weather that seems to get into your bones. There are few better ways of getting warm than from the inside out, and good, old British tomato soup seems to work wonders in that department.

Too Many Choices? Don't Panic!
Question is: which soup is your favourite? We have three British brands in stock right now; Heinz, Baxters and Crosse & Blackwell. Oh ... which is the best? Heinz is the leading brand - and the most expensive! Baxters and Crosse & Blackwell both deliver warmth to your inner self for half a dollar less per can.

Lamb Dressed as Mutton
The prize for least well-dressed can goes to Crosse & Blackwell. Strange then that Crosse & Blackwell is John's favourite. I love my tomato soup on a bone-chilling winter's day. It tastes great, warms me up and makes me feel good too.

Get a nice warm glow. Grab a can (or three) and choose your favourite.

Not Tonight Chicken

When I picked up a jar of Chicken Tonight brand "Spanish Chicken" from the shelf in order to do a taste test for my "This Week at Blighty's" newsletter, my first thought was: "dammit, don't try to tell me what to eat for supper tonight!"

To Arms!
I am a rebel you see. I am not going to let any food jar label be the boss of me! Decision one was to use this jar of tomatoes, pepper, olive oil and thyme to make a dinner with anything ... anything except chicken!

Okay; government food inspectors are probably already reaching for their clipboards and handcuffs. Do your worst G-men, you'll never take me alive!

Details of the Crime
I chopped up some onions, lightly cooked them in butter until soft. I then stirred them into the bossy sauce with some pre-cooked rice and added ... wait for it ... shrimps! Simmered the rebellious concoction for 15 minutes or so then scoffed the lot. Delicious.

Live dangerously, join the rebellion.

Britain's Favourite Curry - from Glasgow?

Och Aye the Noo
Some say it was invented in Glasgow. Others claim "Brummagem" or "Noocassel". The former MP for Glasgow Central, Mohammad Sarwar, tabled a motion in the British Parliament calling for EU protection for Glasgow as the recipe's origin city.

It's Not Theirs, It's Ours
One thing is almost unanimously agreed: Indian it ain't; British it is! It is called Tikka Masala. Loosely translated from Hindi, the name means "bits of chicken in a mixture of spices".

Only One Ingredient?
There are many, many different recipes for Tikka Masala. A study conducted in Britain concluded they had only one common ingredient: chicken!

To make Chicken Tikka Masala you should oven roast chunks of tender chicken while preparing a sauce made with cream, yogurt and whatever spices take your fancy. Chuck in some turmeric and paprika to give the dish its signature yellowish colour and Bob's your uncle.

Teaching (East) Indians to Make Curry
Or, come to Blighty's and buy a jar of Sharwood's Tikka Masala sauce prepared by Indians. After all, the Indians ought to know how to make this classic British dish, they played host to the British for nearly a hundred years during the Raj, what-ho?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This is Nuts!

I have become addicted to KP Dry Roasted Peanuts from the UK. We still have a few cans leftover from Christmas and I can't stop eating them. No really, I can't stop!

KP Peanuts are coated with a combination of various flavours that I can not get enough of. I looked at the label on the back of the can to discover the source of my addiction and was distracted by the words: "CONTAINS: PEANUTS, CELERY. MAY CONTAIN NUTS, MILK, SOYA, GLUTEN." Well duh!

My KP Dry Roasted peanuts are currently reduced to clear. I need you to come in and buy them all so that I can break my addiction. Please help me ... please ...

Sleeping It Off at Blighty's

It was our busiest Christmas ever, thank you. Now it's time to sleep!

If you come into the store and nobody appears to be there, pop your head around the corner of John's "executive office" near the front window and wake him up.

By the way, the cute pups are Trunkles and Molly, my English Setters. Trunkles is the young one on top. Molly is the old lady with diabetes. They don't come to the store.

Bumper Bags: Less Money More Candy

Christmas is all done and dusted once again. Now it's time to pay the piper, cough up the dosh, clear the cards and get the budget back on track.

Still, no need for scrimping and saving. The big candy manufacturers are on your side - well sort of. You see, if they can cut the cost of all the fancy packaging that normally comes with their product they can sell their candy for less.

That's where bumper bags come into the picture. The candymen sell their wares in bulk; retailers spend the time to package them in simple cellophane packs for resale to candy lovers.

Why face another four months of miserable weather alone? Come and fill yer boots with cheap treats and laugh all the way to spring. Blighty's Bumper Bags cost significantly less than premium brand packaged candies. Lots to choose from - a whole aisle of the store in fact and more on the way!

Your choice, one price: $2.99.

Recipe: Sweet Dressed Pork Ribs with British Flair

Do you love to tuck into a big plate of succulent, mouth-watering pork ribs? Who doesn't! Well, here is a way to make your ribs absolutely irresistible with a rich, sweet flavoured coating made from original British ingredients.

  • 1 rack of good quality pork ribs
  • 1 can Lyles Black Treacle
  • 1 pack Tate & Lyle Demerara sugar
  • Cut the ribs into portions each containing two bones
  • Boil the cut ribs in a large stock pot until the bones protrude from the meat
  • Drain and cool
  • In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil
  • Stir in 3 tablespoons Lyles Black Treacle
  • Add a half cup of Tate & Lyle Demerara sugar
  • Boil for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat
Final Preparation:
  • Coat each portion of ribs in flour then dip into the dressing
  • Bake at 375F until the dressing cooks around the ribs
  • Brush on a little fresh dressing before serving
The Lyles Black Treacle and the Tate & Lyle Demerara sugar are available at Blighty's but you'll have to chase a pig around the farmyard to get your ribs.

Recipe: Don't Drink that Orange Squash

Don't drink that Robinsons Orange Squash you bought at Blighty's - well at least not all of it anyway.

Here is another great way to use it in a delicious salad dressing.

Dressing Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Robinsons Orange Squash (undiluted)

Dressing Preparation
  • Blend the ingredients together until smooth and thoroughly mixed - a high speed blender works best.

Salad Ingredients
  • 2 apples
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 1 small red onion

Salad Preparation
  • Thinly dice the ingredients into a salad bowl, add the orange dressing and leave in the fridge for at least an hour before serving
This recipe makes a delicious, light and fruity salad that really perks up your taste buds before your main course. Robinsons Orange Squash is available in regular or no-added sugar versions at Blighty's for just $3.99 a bottle. It is intended to be diluted with water for a refreshing drink - very useful when winter's dry air  leaves you dehydrated. Drink lots of it to keep your skin and airways from drying out and you will be more resistant to winter illnesses.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What a Relief!

When the Going Gets Tough
It takes stamina to celebrate all twelve days of Christmas ... and sometimes a little help too. You know that feeling; the feeling that you ate too much, or maybe those snacks you grabbed at the party had something in them that disagreed with you.

Tossin' and Turnin'
Anyway, its bedtime and you can't relax, your belly is telling you something is wrong and you ain't-a-gonna sleep 'til you fix it.

Pretty Bubbles in the Air
That's when Andrews comes in handy. A couple of teaspoons in a glass of water, stir it up and watch if froth like a tiny volcano, then gulp it down while those furious little bubbles still have lots of energy.

Within a few minutes you'll be feeling better and ready for a good night's sleep. In the morning you can go at it again until Christmas is over. Then there's always New Years, then Burns Night, then ....

Great British Meal Idea - Chilli British Style

Here a fabulous new way to make Chilli (with inspiration from Jamie Oliver). Leave your Canadian recipes in the drawer, keep an open mind and give this one a try.


  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 red peppers
  • 400g tin chick peas
  • 400g tin red kidney beans
  • 2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • Half a kilo ground beef
  • 1 pack Colman's Chilli Con Carne mix


  • Peel and chop the fresh veggies and lightly fry in olive oil until softened
  • Brown the ground beef then add to the cooked veggies
  • Add 1 cup water and the tinned ingredients to the pot
  • Sprinkle in the Colman's Chilli Con Carne mix
  • Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for one hour

Serving Suggestion:
Serve with Basmati rice, a baked potato or even just big chunks of crusty bread.

The Colman's Chilli Con Carne mix is available at Blighty's for just $2.99.

Buy One Get One FREE Deals

Plenty of great end-of-Christmas deals to be had at Blighty's. All our leftover Christmas stock is being cleared out on a "Buy One Get One FREE" basis.

Candy tubes? Gotta love 'em. Smarties, Minstrels, Cadbury Dairy Milk miniatures, Chocolate Fingers, Buttons, Rolo, Magic Stars, Pastilles, Love Hearts ... Limited quantities of some selections remain.

Selection Boxes! A few left, plus a few Cadbury and Milkybar selection packs

Plus more in store ... come and take a look!

Downtown Abbey - What's in Store?

  • What exciting new things are going to happen in Downton Abbey series 3?
  • Doctor Who's new assistant
  • Coronation Street's own alien
  • Ricky Gervais - an idiot?
  • Richard Hammond's Crash Course

... plus lots more in the January issue of the all-new "Totally British" magazine on sale now at Blighty's - only $4.99 for hours of great reading and fab pix!

Limited number of copies available, please shop early.