A Taste of the Past

Historical and Traditional Cookery

Day-long Cookery Courses: Basic Bread Making | Further Adventures in Bread | Jam and Curd | Basic Baking | Sour Dough and Sponges | Fancy Breads | Mediterranean Breads
Evening Cookery Club: Christmas Treats
Other Services: Talks and Demonstrations | Recipes for Forty Hall | Catering


A Taste of the Past is a small, independent catering company that provides cookery courses, talks and demonstrations a small range of sweets and baking and small scale catering for up to around 20 people.

17th Century gingerbread
17th Century gingerbread
A home-baked loaf of bread
A home-baked loaf of bread
Spit-roasted beef dredged in oil and breadcrumbs to protect the meat from the fire
Spit-roasted beef dredged in oil and breadcrumbs to protect the meat from the fire
Fresh baked loaves of bread
Fresh baked loaves of bread

Cookery Courses

Day-long Cookery Courses

Course Name (click for details)DatesStatusNotes
Bread Making for Beginners9 Feb 2013Full
Jam and Curd16 Mar 2013Spaces
Bread Making for Beginners20 Apr 2013Full
Basic Baking in a Day14 Sep 2013Full
Sour Dough and Unusual Breads12 Oct 20131 Space
Christmas Treats16 Nov 20132 Spaces
Bread Making for Beginners18 Jan 2014Full
Further Adventures with Bread8 Feb 2014Full
Bread Making for Beginners8 Mar 2014Full
Further Adventures with Bread26 Apr 2014Full
Bread Making for Beginners14 Jun 2014Full
Bread Making for Beginners12 Jul 2014Full
Further Adventures with Bread13 Sep 2014Full
Bread Making for Beginners11 Oct 2014Full
Bread Making for Beginners10 Jan 2015Full
Enriched and Fancy Breads24 Jan 20153 Spaces
Bread Making for Beginners14 Mar 2015Full
Enriched and Fancy Breads21 Mar 20151 Space
Mediterranean Breads12 Sep 20152 Spaces
Bread Making for Beginners10 Oct 20158 Spaces
Mediterranean Breads7 Nov 20158 Spaces

Evening Cookery Club

Course Name (click for details)DatesStatusNotes
Christmas Treats12 Dec 2014Full
Christmas Treats16 Dec 20143 Spaces

Booking and Other Information

To find out more information about any of the courses or catering on offer please call Claire Passaris on 07999 871 053.

To book a course please send a booking form and cheque to Claire Passaris, A Taste of the Past, 80 Orpin Road, Merstham, Redhill, Surrey. RH1 3EY. I do require payment in full at the time of booking as I have to pay for everything before the course. However I will not cash your cheques until I have enough people to run the course. Please give me your e-mail address or mobile phone number and I will send you a message a couple of days before I cash your cheque. I will also use it to tell you of any changes to the course details.

Talks and Demonstrations

11 Dec 2012Forty Hall, Enfield CouncilFood for Thought: Festive recipes from the 17th Century
4 Apr 2013Christchurch Ladies Group, Waltham CrossPresentation on 17th Century Marmalade Recipes
13 Jul 2013Forty Hall, Enfield CouncilFirst Fruits: Historic cookery demonstration
10 Aug 2013Forty Hall, Enfield CouncilCookery Course: 17th Century Jam-Making Techniques
24 Nov 2013Forty Hall, Enfield CouncilProviding breakfast to the Dawn Chorus event and talking about the history of breakfast
7 Dec 2014Forty Hall, Enfield Council17th Century Christ Tide Banquet

I am happy to give talks to local clubs. Please call me to discuss what you would like.

For talks to charities I just make a small charge to cover my time and travelling expenses. However, if you would like a cookery demonstration and tasting samples then I do have to cover the costs of public liability insurance for your premises and food insurance for the audience as well as the cost of ingredients and cooking.

Blog Posts

Help! My jam went wrong.

It is blackberry time again when lots of people are tempted to make jam.  Making jam is always a good idea and not something to be frightened off.

The most common question I get asked is why a batch of jam went “wrong.”  

My answer is always pretty much the same.  Unless you wandered off, forgot your jam and came back to a blackened, burnt, solid lump of jam toffee (and a tricky washing up task) then your jam probably did not go wrong.

For every "mistake" there is a perfectly good classification of preserve to rescue the day.  Just make sure that when you venture into the kitchen feeling like a domestic goddess ready to take on the world that you don't actually announce that you are going to make jam.  Tell them you are preserving and once you have finished and are admiring the fruits of your labour, decide what it is you have made.


A conserve is runny jam, often described as loose set with larger pieces of fruit.
If your jam doesn’t set over night, bung the jars in the freezer where they will keep pretty much for years.  When you need one, take it out and serve your loose set, conserve with pride drizzled over scones and cream.  So much easier than trying to spread a set jam over your cream tea. 


If it is really runny then whizz it up in the blender and pour your artisan coolie over vanilla ice cream for a divine dessert.  The colours are simply stunning and if you heat the coolie as well the taste is amazing.

If you are feeling very adventurous then you could gently fry and onion, add a splash of vinegar and some your very runny jam and whizz in the processor to make an interesting sauce for meat.

Fruit butters

If, when you open you jar of jam, you find that it has set quite hard and is difficult to spread the you have made a butter.  Fruit butters sometimes contain actual butter but not always.  They tend to have smaller pieces of fruit so make an issue of wanting to better mix the flavours.  These would make a good filling for jam tarts or baked puddings.

Fruit cheeses

If you need a knife to release your jam from the jar then congratulations, you have made a fruit cheese.  Carefully cut the jam out of the jar in a neat cylinder and slice thinly.  Serve the sliced preserve with British cheeses and a range of crackers for a top notch cheese board.

Remember, with all of these, do not tell anyone that your jam went wrong!

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