Monday, September 20, 2010

Treacle, Treacle Little Tart.....about the frequently mentioned dessert in Betty's Books

What is treacle???
According to the folks at wiki:

Treacle is any syrup made during the refining of sugar cane and is defined as "uncrystallized syrup produced in refining sugar". Treacle is used chiefly in cooking as a form of sweetener or condiment.
The most common forms of treacle are the pale syrup that is also known as golden syrup and the darker syrup that is usually referred to as dark treacle or black treacle. Dark treacle has a distinctively strong flavour, slightly bitter, and a richer colour than golden syrup, yet not as dark as molasses. Golden syrup is the main sweetener in the Treacle Tart.

In popular culture

In chapter 7 of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Dormouse tells a story of Elsie, Lacie and Tillie living at the bottom of a well, which confuses Alice, who interrupts to ask. "The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, and then said, 'It was a treacle-well.'" When Alice remonstrated, she was stopped by the Mad Hatter's analogy: "You can draw water out of a water-well, so I should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle-well." Alice said very humbly, "I won't interrupt you again. I dare say there may be one." This is an allusion to the so-called "treacle well", the curative St. Margaret's Well at Binsey, Oxfordshire.
In Series 3 episode 6 of Jeeves and Wooster, Bertie Wooster, while trying to make off with an unsightly painting, attempts to use treacle and brown paper to muffle the sound of broken glass. He is foiled, however, by the treacle's stickiness.
Harry Potter also often eats treacle tart in the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling. Treacle tart is also mentioned in Agatha Christie's murder mystery novel, 4:50 from Paddington , as young Alexander Eastley's favourite dessert

Hmmmm....all this interesting Treacle information. They even mention treacle in popular literature BUT they managed to miss the appearance of treacle tarts, frequently, in our dear Betty's books. A horrible oversight!!!

Yes, fellow Betty lovers, I am sure that you have noticed the frequent whipping up of a quick treacle tart or as is mentioned in A Small Slice of Summer, the eating of the tart because it's ....well dare we say it, cheap and filling....
Letitia wandered along the counter with her tray, looking for something cheap and nourishing. She had bought a dress on her last days off and her pocket was now so light that buying her meals had become a major exercise in basic arithmetic.
She chose soup, although it was a warm june day, a roll to go with it and a slab of treacle tart, because starch was filling and even though it was fattening too she was lucky enough not to have that problem, being possessed of a neat little figure which retained its slender curves whatever she ate. she paid for these dainties at the end of the counter and went to join her fellow staff nurse, Angela Collins, who cast a sympathetic eye at the contents of her tray, said fervently,  "Thank God, it's only a week to pay-day," and addressed herself to her own, similar meal.

 Now, dear Bettys. we ask..."What is a treacle tart?"
According to WiseGeek  (I thought I would change up authorities to keep you on your toes):
Treacle tart is a popular dessert in the UK. It has become somewhat of a curiosity in other countries due to its frequent mention in the Harry Potter books. Treacle tart is in fact, Harry’s favorite dessert.
For most anyone not British, great misunderstanding exists about treacle tart. Many assume that it is made with molasses, which is often called treacle in the UK. Actually treacle tart is made with golden syrup, a by-product of sugar making, like molasses, but more similar in taste and texture to honey. Golden syrup may also be referred to as treacle in the UK.
One may find golden syrup in the US in international food stores, and it can be purchased on the Internet so one can make the perfect treacle tart. If one cannot obtain golden syrup, honey is a close alternative ingredient.
Most treacle tarts begin with a very rich shortbread pastry as a base, usually containing butter, flour and an egg yolk added so that the pastry crumbs adhere to each other. The golden syrup is combined with breadcrumbs, lemon juice, and occasionally spices like ginger to form the filling of treacle tart. The tart is then topped with several strips of the pastry to give it a rich, crispy finish.
The treacle tart bakes for about 45 minutes, and temperatures may vary according to recipes. A treacle tart may be baked in small tins for individual tarts, or it may be baked in a larger pie tin to serve in slices.
Treacle tart has a consistency similar to pecan pie, though it usually does not contain eggs in the filling and is less gelatinous. It is slightly stickier. It can be served hot, warm, or cold, and may be garnished with whipped cream, or ice cream. It is a very sweet dish, and those unaccustomed to such sweetness may find it overly sweet.

 This is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for treacle tart. It comes from his cookbook Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food .  I am told that the tart tastes even better a day after baking, when the breadcrumbs have had time to absorb the filling. Serve slices with whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Gordon Ramsay’s Treacle Tart – Recipe

  • 300g sweet flan pastry (see below)
  • 450g golden syrup
  • 85g white breadcrumbs
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 70ml double cream
  • ½ tsp black treacle
Ingredients to make the sweet pastry – (makes about 500g-you can freeze any excess for a day or so)
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp ice-cold water (if needed)
To make the sweet pastry:
  1. Place the butter and sugar in a food processor and whiz until just combined. Add the egg and whiz for 30 seconds.
  2. Tip in the flour and process for a few seconds until the dough just comes together. (Do not over-process or it will become tough.) Add a little cold water if the dough seems too dry.
  3. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and shape into a flat disc. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.
To make the treacle tart:
  1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large round, the thickness of a £1 coin. Use to line a 23-24cm round shallow tart tin, with removable base, leaving some excess pastry overhanging the rim. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
  2. Line the pastry case with baking paper and dried or ceramic baking beans and bake ‘blind’ for 15-20 minutes or until the base is cooked through. While still warm, cut off the excess pastry to level with the rim of the tin. Lower the oven setting to 140°C/Gas 1.
  3. For the filling, gently heat the golden syrup by immersing the bottle or tin in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Mix the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and ground ginger together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
  4. Pour in the warm golden syrup and add the butter, egg yolks, cream, treacle and lemon juice. Stir well to mix.
  5. Pour the filling into the pastry case. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top has just set, but the centre is slightly wobbly when you shake the tin gently. It should still feel slightly soft in the centre.
  6. Let the tart cool completely before slicing and serving, with cream or crème fraiche.

recipe found at Suite101: Gordon Ramsay's Treacle Tart Recipe: How to Make Traditional English Pastry 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday Betty!!!

I can't believe I missed it!!!
Wednesday, September 15th was the 100th Anniversary of Betty Neels Birthday!!!
How could I miss such a fabulous occasion?? I am so putting this date on my calendar for next year.
This probably explains why I have been thinking about Betty and her books all week.
I just read a wonderful blog post about Betty Neels and her writing. The author of the post brings up a lot of interesting points about Betty herself and the type of books she wrote.
Check out the post at Bettysday

I have reprinted below just a little piece of the blog because I love it:
In preparation for Bettysday, I had two t-shirts made.  The first reads:
Betty Neels:
1910 - Born in Devon, England
1930s - Trains as a nurse & midwife
1940s - Serves in WWII, marries Dutch patriot
1950s - Works as a nurse in Holland
1960s - Retires from nursing; writes first romance novel
1970s-90s - Writes 133 more romance novels
2001 - Dies peacefully in hospital

Bettysday 9 - 15 - 2010 

The second one seems more personalized; it reads:

Betty Neels was 59
when she wrote her
first romance novel.

I still have time

 excerpt from Bettysday post

OMG!! I totally want and gotta have that second t-shirt!
Hmm...maybe I need to make my own t-shirt???
How about:     Get your Betty on!!
                        There's still time!
Just a thought...Peace, Love, and Betty, y'all!

For more info on Betty Neels check out her Wiki page  and her Squidoo page (I love this page because it has some of the original artwork for her books)

"Vichyssoise" (mentioned in The Quiet Professor).....3 recipes take your pick!

 Good Grief!! There are tons of recipes out there for vichyssoise and each is just a tad different than the other. So I picked these three which are similar but have some obvious differences. I say we make all three and see which we like better!

(if you're wondering why I'm looking for Vichyssoise recipes check out my "A Meal with The Quiet Professor" post

Vichyssoise (recipe found at


  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced potatoes
  • 2 1/3 cups chicken stock
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/8 cups heavy whipping cream 
  1. Gently sweat the chopped leeks and the chopped onion in butter or margarine until soft, about 8 minutes. Do NOT let them brown.
  2. Add potatoes and stock to the saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste; do not overdo them! 
  3. Bring to the boil, and simmer very gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth.
  5. Cool.
  6. Gently stir in the cream before serving.
.... this version of Vichyssoise is from I picked it because it used premade items and had a little twist:  Vichyssoise is a classic French cold soup, made quicker and easier with frozen potatoes. And a sweet potato adds a little extra color and nutrition.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 leeks, white part only, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1./8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 cup chopped canned sweet potato, if desired
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup tiny frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives


Place butter in a large soup pot over medium low heat.
Immediately add the leeks, onion, and garlic. 
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft; do not let them brown. Add thyme, potatoes, sweet potato (if using), water, and chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup.
Pour into a large glass pitcher or glass bowl.
Stir in heavy cream, cover, and chill until cold, at least 6 hours.
To serve, ladle into chilled bowls and garnish with peas and chives.
Serves 8

 My final recipe is by Cooking Mama. I found it at

Your chopping technique doesn't matter here—you are going to puree this soup. And don't be put off by the pungent, black-licorice-smell of the raw fennel.  When it's cooked, it mellows and adds a nice sweetness to the soup.
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 glugs olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green stem only, cleaned and chopped (reserve dark green leaves for stock)
  • 2 fennel bulbs, white bulbs only, outer layer removed, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, scrubbed (peeling optional, I don't)
  • 1 box free-range chicken broth (+ more to thin soup if desired)
  • half and half, at least a quart (you'll use a pint plus a little more to taste)
  • salt and pepper
  • creme fraiche and chives for garnish
In a heavy-bottom soup pot, melt butter and oil over medium-high heat.
When butter is foamy add the leeks, fennel, and garlic plus a pinch of salt.
Let the veggies sweat until they are softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir occassionally and if butter starts to brown, reduce heat a touch.
Meanwhile, chop potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
Add potatoes to the pot along with the box of chicken broth.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and let simmer until potatoes are cooked though, about 20 minutes or so.
Remove from heat. Stir in a pint of half-and-half and then puree the soup completely with a stick blender.

Important: If you use a regular blender let soup cool completely first.

If the soup starts to go all gluey as you puree it, keep adding splashes of half-and-half (or milk or water or broth or a combination) until soup returns to a velvety consistency.
Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve very cold in chilled bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche, Greek yogurt or sour cream (if you like) and snipped chives.

A meal with The Quiet Professor

I don't know about y'all but I swear I get hungry every time I read a Betty Neels book. Not that she talks about food overly much but ...hey, we all have to eat and when she tells about a meal she often goes into more details than other authors seem to. Not in describing tastes or anything but just telling exactly what they are eating. And it always sounds soooooo good! Check out this passage from The Quiet Professor  (which I happen to be reading, AGAIN, at the moment):
 "I asked Mrs. Thrumble to pack up an easy meal."
Megan stood in the doorway since there was barely room for them both in the kitchen.
"How kind," she said, not quite sure who was being kind, he for ordering the food or his housekeeper for packing it up.
"If you'd like to sit down I'll unpack it."
He reached past her and put the wine in the fridge and went and sat down with the cat on his knee as she took the lid off the box.
"Heavens this is a comu..." She tried again.
"A corn..."
"Cornucopia, the horn of plenty. Good, I told Mrs. Thrumble that we were sure to be hungry."
There was cold vichyssoise soup in a container, a raised pork pie, jellied chicken, hard-boiled eggs, potato salad, straw potatoes and a salad of tomatoes and apples with a garlic and walnut dressing, each in covered containers, and wrapped in a white napkin an apple pie with a pot of cream beside it. There were little crusty rolls too and a small crock of butter. Megan unpacked everything and laid the food out on plates and dishes.
"When do you want to have supper?" she asked, her mouth watering.
"As soon as it's on the table. Shall we have a drink first?" He came into the kitchen and took a bottle from the fridge.
"It's probably not cold enough, though Thrumble chilled it well."
"Champagne," exclaimed Megan, 'that's for birthdays. "
"Celebrations, too." He smiled at her. "Fetch two glasses, there's a dear girl."
She had no champagne glasses, only the all-purpose wine glasses she had brought from Woolworth's.
"A new job, a new start in a new country there's every reason to drink to that." He eased out the cork, filled their glasses and handed her one. Megan touched his glass and sipped.
"I don't know much about wines but this one tastes lovely."
 He agreed blandly; Bollinger 1985 was an excellent vintage champagne but he had no intention of telling her that. It was enough that she enjoyed it.

 See what I mean?
Btw, it must be nice to tell  your cook/housekeeper that you need a meal to go and they come up with that little feast. Listed below are all of the elements of the meal above. I'm going to find a recipe for each highlighted dish and link it to this page. That way we can all eat like a Betty Neels character!

cold vichyssoise soup in a container,
a raised pork pie,
jellied chicken,
hard-boiled eggs,
potato salad,
straw potatoes and
a salad of tomatoes and apples with
a garlic and walnut dressing, each in covered containers,
and wrapped in a white napkin an apple pie
with a pot of cream beside it.
There were little crusty rolls too and
a small crock of butter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Make a Cheese and Onion Pasties mentioned in An Old Fashioned Girl

Cheese and Onion Pasty


* puff pastry (I use frozen, but homemade is fine but waaaay more trouble :-)
* 1/2 ounce unsalted butter
* 2 medium onions, finely chopped
* 1/2 lb double Gloucester cheese or cheddar cheese, grated
* 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


1.Thaw the pastry.
2.If using homemade, put your dough in the refrigerator to chill.
3.Preheat oven to 400°F.
4.Melt the butter in a frying pan on a low heat.
5.Mix in the onions and cook them until they are just beginning to soften.
6.Mix them with the cheese and parsley.
7.Roll out the pastry and cut out 4 rounds, each about 6 inches in diameter.
8.Put a quarter of the cheese mixture on one half of each one.
9.Fold over the other side and crimp the edges together.
10.Lay the pasties on a floured baking sheet and brush them with milk or beaten egg.
11.Bake them for 30 minutes and serve hot.

An Old-Fashioned Girl (Betty Neels Large Print Collection)

Friday, April 30, 2010

An Interesting Betty Neels there are a lot of them

The Uncrushable Jersy Dress is a really interesting and versatile site that concentrates on Betty's books and anything that the author chooses to relate to them. The blog description says "conquering the world one Betty Neels at a time".
Ya gotta love it!! This button/award is for The Uncrushable Jersy Dress!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Current Betty......An Old Fashioned Girl

Published in 1992, An Old Fashioned Girl is Betty's 111th book.

The blurb on the back says:
How could she make him notice her?

Patience knew she couldn't be more different form the sort of women Dutch surgeon Julius van der Beek seemed to attract. After all she was a quiet country girl with a somewhat unique taste in clothes - and an assertive personality to match! Yet she was attracted to him. Not that she had a hope of making him notice her, particularly with the glamorous Sylvia van Teule already at his side. . .

Sooooo, I have read this book before...numerous times. As I've said before I like Betty's books because they're relaxing. Her books and a few others, including Pride and Prejudice (check out my P&P blog), are books that I read when I can't find anything new that looks interesting.

Anyhoo, as I read this book, this time, I'm going to note places and meals, I find the meals fascinating at times, and do little blogettes about them....eventually.

TTFN (TaTa for Now)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why do I like Betty Neels' Books?

Hmmm....or maybe that should be "Why I like Betty Neels' books?"
It is a very subtle difference.

I'm really not sure why I like the books so much. They are well written but then they are also all very, very, very similar to each other.
But it doesn't seem to matter. The books are just fun, easy to read and relaxing. Maybe the fact that you basically know what will happen makes them enjoyable.

The is very little sex...shoot there's no sex in a Betty book. Unless, you consider kissing sex and even if you do, there is still very little sex in a Betty book. Which is okay. Even without it the book is still interesting, sorta.

The heroines in Betty's books are just a bit too good to be believed. Well, most of them are. Occasionally, you'll find a heroine who's feisty and will speak up for herself but even she gets walked on by some folks and she's touchy with the wrong person, ie the hero.
Here's what one reviewer had to say about Betty's heroines:
Betty’s books are always sweet with the main characters having integrity, even when others do not act in the same manner towards them.

Yes, the majority of, but not all of, Betty's Heroines are nurses or work in the hospital in some way. The heroes are usually doctors and most often from the Netherlands. So far I've only read one book where neither the hero or the heroine worked in a hospital.

It goes without saying, although I am going to say it, that the books all end happily. But then it's a Harlequin so, hey, it's suppose to end up with everyone getting together.

Oh yeah, and I love to read about the places in Betty's books. I've never been to the Netherlands or the UK....dang it! But I plan to go just so I can visit all the places I've read about in Betty's books.

Anyway, back to me, naturally.
I Betty's books because they're fun, relaxing and .....special.
Yea Betty!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pictures of the Netherlands

Fabulous Panoramic Pics of the Netherlands

This link leads to lots of wonderful panoramic pics taken in the Netherlands. The country that Betty loved to have her doctors based in, more or less.

This is the blurb written at the top of the page for these pics:
Some panoramas made in the Netherlands
Flash (or QuickTime ) is necessary to view these panoramas.
The (strange looking) images below are spherical projections.
Click on any of these images to view the corresponding panorama.
In such a panorama you can view in any direction. Use the mouse or left/right/up/down arrows.
Use SHIFT to zoom in, CTRL to zoom out.

The panoramas are really fabulous! I have no idea how it works but I wish I could do it.
Check them out!
These pics are panoramas of Windmills

A List of All of Betty Neels' Books

Single Novels

* Sister Peters in Amsterdam (1969)
* Amazon in an Apron (1969) aka A Match for Sister Maggy / Nurse in Holland
* Blow Hot, Blow Cold (1970) aka Surgeon from Holland / Visiting Surgeon / Visiting Consultant
* Tempestuous April (1970) aka Nurse Harriet Goes to Holland
* Damsel in Green (1970)
* Fate is Remarkable (1970)
* Tulips for Augusta (1971)
* Tangled Autumn (1971)
* The Fifth Day of Christmas (1971)
* Tabitha in Moonlight (1972)
* Wish with the Candles (1972)
* Saturday's Child (1972)
* Uncertain Summer (1972)
* Victory for Victoria (1972)
* Winter of Change (1973) aka Surgeon in Charge
* Cassandra by Chance (1973)
* Three for a Wedding (1973)
* Stars Through the Mist (1973)
* Enchanting Samantha (1973)
* The Gemel Ring (1974)
* The Magic of Living (1974)
* Cruise to a Wedding (1974)
* The End of the Rainbow (1974)
* A Small Slice of Summer (1975)
* Henrietta's Own Castle (1975)
* A Star Looks Down (1975)
* The Moon for Lavinia (1975)
* Cobweb Morning (1975)
* Heaven is Gentle (1975)
* Roses for Christmas (1975)
* The Edge of Winter (1976)
* Esmeralda (1976)
* A Gem of a Girl (1976)
* Grasp a Nettle (1977)
* A Matter of Chance (1977)
* Pineapple Girl (1977)
* The Little Dragon (1977)
* The Hasty Marriage (1977)
* Britannia All at Sea (1978)
* Never While the Grass Grows (1978)
* Ring in a Teacup (1978)
* Philomena's Miracle (1978)
* Sun and Candlelight (1979)
* The Promise of Happiness (1979)
* Midnight Sun's Magic (1979)
* Winter Wedding (1979)
* Hannah (1980)
* Last April Fair (1980)
* When May Follows (1980)
* Caroline's Waterloo (1980)
* The Silver Thaw (1980)
* Surgeon in Charge (1980)
* Not Once But Twice (1981)
* An Apple from Eve (1981)
* Heaven Round the Corner (1981)
* Judith (1982)
* A Girl to Love (1982)
* All Else Confusion (1982)
* A Dream Came True (1982)
* Midsummer Star (1983)
* Roses and Champagne (1983)
* Never Say Goodbye (1983)
* Never Too Late (1983)
* Once for All Time (1984)
* Year's Happy Ending (1984)
* Polly (1984)
* Heidelberg Wedding (1984)
* At the End of the Day (1985)
* A Summer Idyll (1985)
* Magic in Vienna (1985)
* Never the Time and the Place (1985)
* A Girl Named Rose (1986)
* Two Weeks to Remember (1986)
* The Secret Pool (1986)
* Stormy Springtime (1987)
* Off with the Old Love (1987)
* A Doubtful Marriage (1987)
* A Gentle Awakening (1987)
* The Course of True Love (1988)
* When Two Paths Meet (1988)
* Paradise for Two (1988)
* The Fateful Bargain (1989)
* No Need to Say Good-Bye (1989)
* The Chain of Destiny (1989)
* Hilltop Tryst (1989)
* The Convenient Wife (1990)
* A Suitable Match (1990)
* The Girl with Green Eyes (1990)
* The Most Marvellous Summer (1991)
* A Kind of Magic (1991)
* A Little Moonlight (1991)
* An Unlikely Romance (1992)
* Romantic Encounter (1992)
* The Quiet Professor (1992)
* An Old-Fashioned Girl (1992)
* The Awakened Heart (1993)
* At Odds with Love (1993)
* A Girl in a Million (1993)
* Waiting for Deborah (1994)
* Wedding Bells for Beatrice (1994)
* Dearest Mary Jane (1994)
* A Secret Infatuation (1994)
* Fate Takes a Hand (1995)
* Marrying Mary (1996)
* Only by Chance (1996)
* A Kiss for Julie (1996)
* The Vicar's Daughter (1996)
* The Daughter of the Manor (1997)
* The Mistletoe Kiss (1997)
* Love Can Wait (1997)
* The Fortunes of Francesca (1997)
* Nanny by Chance (1998)
* An Ideal Wife (1998)
* A Winter Love Story (1998)
* Discovering Daisy (1999)
* A Good Wife (1999)
* Making Sure of Sarah (1999)
* An Independent Woman (2001)