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.

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
17th Century spice cake
17th Century spice cake

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

Dairy Free Chocolate Dessert

Dairy Free Chocolate Treat

When I was young I never really understood all the fuss about Christmas food.  Mince pies were OK but the pudding and cake were awful.  I didn't like the dried fruit, the funny spices, the thick, sickly icing or the cream.  To me Christmas dinner was one big roast dinner with the unwanted addition of smelly, mini-cabbage and dodgy looking beige gloop on the side.  Don't even get me started on trifle!  

Then one day my Mum bought Delia Smith's Christmas cook book and my outlook on Christmas changed forever.  Interesting starters appeared and on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day there was chocolate puddings.  First up was the Squidgy Chocolate Log and then there was the Chocolate Truffle Torte.  Oh my goodness, I was in utter heaven.  Best of all there were leftovers for days.

Fast forward a few year and it slowly dawns on me that the reason I grew up not likely anything with milk in was because milk disagrees with me.  However my Mum was not having me grow up with rickets and growing old with brittle bones.  Close on two decades of compulsory dairy products has left me with a learnt love of cream teas and a deep, psychological need to always have cheese in the fridge.

Sure, truffle torte made my stomach sound like a bubbling kettle but it was worth it for the shear heavenly taste.  Then I had kids and it is very obvious that they seem to be having issues with milk too.  I can't play fast and loose with their digestion and so I needed a dairy free alternative to my favourite Christmas treat and I needed it fast.  This is the result, a mix of chocolate, coconut and rum.  It doesn't have the depth as the Delia recipe but give me time and a few more tries and I will manage it.  In the meantime, please try this recipe and let me know how it goes, I think it is very nice indeed, if a little rich.


200g dark chocolate (I use the really cheap, supermarket versions, feel free to be more generous)
100g creamed coconut block,
80 g boiling water
1 dessert spoon of run (or other favourite alcohol.  Or use a teaspoon of flavouring)
1 grated orange rind.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water
Finely chopped the creamed coconut
Mix the creamed coconut with the boiling water and stir well until you get a creamy paste
Stir in the orange rind and the flavouring (if using)
Stir the cocnut mix into the chocolate, mix well
Pour or spoon into a a suitable container.  You can use just about any heat proof container for this.
Leave to too and then pop in the fridge to finish off

This cools to quite a solid dessert.  I am experimenting with using a little more water each time, an extra 10g, until I get a more creamy finish to the dessert.  At the moment it is like a chocolate bar left in a warm room.

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