Cornflake Cuisine

Friday, 31 October 2014

I never buy breakfast cereal. Never liked it, never been impressed by its supposed nutritional merits (a slice of wholemeal bread is just as nutritious -probably more) or its convenience (how inconvenient is a slice of bread?) and never wanted those great big boxes cluttering up my cupboards. But the other day I happened on this recipe for cornflake tarts by Miss South of the excellent North/South Food blog and was persuaded to buy some.

It took me right back. If you went to school in the UK in the 60s and 70s you may remember eating cornflake tarts along with other dishes such as; beef stew and dumplings, liver and bacon, instant mash scooped with an ice cream scoop, pilchard salad with beetroot (yuk), yellow, soggy cabbage, fish and chips on Friday, cheese and onion flan, chocolate concrete, rice pudding and tinned prunes, banana custard (making me heave just thinking about it) and giant metal jugs of pink custard (yuk again). This was before the advent of the turkey twizzler and was basically good, honest home-cooked food but for the most part it was pretty grim. Not all of it though, chocolate concrete, a kind of chocolate shortbread was my favourite pudding and these cornflake tarts were pretty good too. As Miss South says they are even better if you use butter rather than marge in the pastry and homemade jam instead of cheap red jam.



After the success of the cornflake tarts I decided to make that other classic of cornflake cuisine, also a childhood favourite - chocolate cornflake crunchies. I like mine made into a big cake and cut in wedges rather than having to faff about with paper cases.

To make one 8 inch cake
Melt slowly in a pan
200g of milk or plain chocolate (or a mixture of both)
50g butter
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
Stir in
200g cornflakes* (Rice Krispies work just as well as cornflakes)
Press into an 8 inch cake or flan tin and refrigerate until set. 

* I researched cornflake prices and discovered you could pay anything from 31p to £2.50 for a box of the stuff. Tesco Everyday Value 31p cornflakes it was.




School dinners, did you love or loathe them? 

October



51 comments:

  1. Ours weren't bad, and some things were positively delicious like syrup steamed pudding. They also used to make a white cabbage and peanut salad (wouldn't be allowed now), which I liked and for which I have never managed to find a recipe. Liver and bacon, on the other hand was vile. Leathery and grey. And it took me nearly 40 years to realise that liver actually is pretty tasty

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  2. Loved them. You had a pudding every day - what's not to like?
    I even liked the liver and the heart. I gagged on it at home but at school it was sliced very thinly and it didn't have *tubes* in it. There were a few things I didn't much like, but in compensation there were steamed puddings, Manchester tart, River Trent cake and glorious chocolate pavement with pink custard.
    Semolina, frogspawn, prunes - even they were welcome. I must have had very dull food at home to be so enamoured.....

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    1. I think your chocolate pavement might have been my chocolate concrete. I never liked it with pink custard. Do tell me what River Trent cake was, sounds a bit muddy.....

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    2. A big flat tray of yellow sponge with sugar on top, and tributaries of red jam threaded through it. At our school, the cornflakes arrived atop a sort of bakewell tart. Ginger sponge! Now that's something I haven't thought of for years - we had it with a sort of white custard.
      Our dinners came in a truck from a central kitchen - the exact same one that was set up during the war to provide hot dinners for school children during rationing.. Despite the miles/logistics involved, supplying many schools, the food was superb. But never chips! We ate in the school hall. Later, our school built it's own kitchen and dinning room. The food was always foul after that. Go figure.

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    3. Dining not dinning. Fat fingers!

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    4. Thanks Wanda. My school dinners also came in a truck in big rectangular metal pans I wonder if that was a relic from rationing too. What a marvellous thing it was that every school child was provided with a free hot dinner during the war.

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  3. I loved school dinners. Our school dinner were so nice some kids did a roaring trade re-selling their dinner tickets. However, the custard was truly disgusting and it is only recently some 25 years later that I am able to eat it. Yuk. Those cornflake cakes look really yummy.

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    1. School custard put me off it for years too. I love the real stuff with eggs though.

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  4. I was made to eat pink rice pudding by an aunt, who was a dinner-lady at my primary school. I wouldn't have minded the rice pudding itself, but rather than allow a child to opt for jam, they added it before serving. My aunt only wanted me to eat up because I was small and pale (undiagnosed coeliac!), but I I would be the last child in the dining room, with her standing over me. Unfair!!!

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  5. Ours were good generally. Chocolate concrete and chocolate sauce and something called Swiss tart were the highlights of the puddings and a really lovely cheese pie and gammon and chips were universal favourites. There was always a roast and fish
    during the week. We were lucky in out cooks considerinng 90% of pupils had cooked dinners (no-one allowed out of school at lunchtime then) so they were providing about 600 meals in two sittings

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  6. My Mum was an awful cook and we only ever had pudding on Christmas Day so absolutely loved School Dinners. Plenty of variety and always plenty of food. Seconds if you wanted more. I don't remember badly cooked meals as nothing could be worse than my Mum's! The only thing I didn't like was a Fruit Fool that was served up about once a year. I wasn't the only one who didn't like it because I can still see now the bowls of it getting sent back half full, and no-one ever had seconds of it. My favourite was the Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Custard - double whammy!

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  7. I'm struggling to remember it was all so long ago! I liked the butterscotch tart but started taking a packed lunch later which was a frankly nutritionally inadequate Marmite sandwich and an apple. No wonder I was so skinny. The best treat was being allowed to go up to the coffee bar in the sixth form and having coffee in glass cups.

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  8. We used to make cornflake or rice crispies into crunchy chocolaty stuff but we just melted chocolate and stirred them in and then put it in heaps in little cases. I never had school dinners as I used to go home to eat lunch at primary school and took packed lunch at secondary school. Occasionally I used to stay. Usually on a Friday as there was fish fingers and chips. I also liked the rice pudding as it came with a nice shortbread biscuit. There were nice sponge puddings as well, either an iced one with sugar strands on or a chocolate one. Generally though I was lucky not to have to eat at school, as I remember the mashed potato was nasty as so was the meat and gravy. I used to have lovely dinners at home and my mum cooked a pudding everyday.

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  9. Loathed every mouthful of school dinners. Except the delicious pastry baked with lemon curd on top and cut into squares. (A giant jam tart.) The best bits were the corners as they had the most pastry. I like the cornflake to fallen leaf pictures.
    Here's to a great weekend, Ax

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    1. Thank you for noticing my cornflaky leaves!

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  10. I didn't like school dinners and until sixth form when we moved to a cafe system and I could eat a small pizza every day I think I ate next to nothing at school all day. I remember feeling faint on arriving home and consuming jam and bread like it was going out of fashion. Once when the school dinner ladies were on strike my friend and I went home and made cake mix which we ate for lunch. We were devastated when they returned to work.

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  11. They used to do a curry which I liked. It was green and very mild but quite tasty. I used to like it when they did salads too as you didn't have to cue up and you got crisps with it. The dinner ladies were kind to me so they just gave me the spoon of jam instead of the blancmange eww. I used to love arctic roll too. For the most part, they were still pretty yuck.

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  12. Queue!!! I can spell really!

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  13. Cheese pie. With very thinly sliced tomatoes baked on top. It was my absolute favourite and I should quite like to be able to recreate it. I'm afraid I can't subscribe to the cereal thing either - whether it be in a bowl with milk or a flan or tart. Think I reached my cornflake/rice crispies saturation limit in the 1980s. I wonder if your chocolate concrete was our tiffin? Loved that. Loved school custard too - always had a thick skin on it.

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  14. School dinners are still pretty atrocious from what I can gather. Not particularly nutritious either. Love your black treacle tin, I've been waiting for the Hallowe'en one to come out this year, but I don't think it ever did. The schools have got rid of all of the proper puddings - crumbles and sponges and baked things - this year, I assume because they have to cater for the under sevens free now, so they have more to cook for. They've got lots of easy things instead - yoghurts and cookies.

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  15. I loved school dinners, except Tapioca ('frogspawn' as we imaginatively called it) and the salad which was foul; a leathery sheet of cold roast beef, served with scalding, rock hard roast potatoes, and beetroot (pickled) which bled into the meat, also a spoonful of glistening, cheap, vinegary coleslaw!

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  16. The puddings were great with the exception of prunes & custard. My particular favourite was sponge with pink icing and hundreds & thousands sprinkled on top. School dinners put me off various foods for a long time, including beetroot but I am glad to say I've recovered and very little is off menu these days.

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  17. Maxine Timms7:57 am GMT

    They were mainly fairly horrid, although my Mum wasn't much of a cook so I guess I ate it all. The one thing I remember very fondly was the gypsy tart. Always served with half an apple.

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  18. our chocolate concrete came with green mint custard.

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    1. That is totally revolting.

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  19. Coloured custard in those metal jugs - now there's a memory!
    I'd actually been thinking about writing a Food Memories post about the rubbish we used to eat at school in the 1980s/90s... no home (or canteen) cooking then. Just processed rubbish and junk food. Although we did get more of that kind of thing at primary school. I took sandwiches and a big, frightening dinner lady called Mrs Goldsworthy would come and check you'd emptied your Tupperware after lunch. If you hadn't eaten your crusts there'd be serious trouble.
    I do like your photos - especially the one with the treacle tin.
    Sarah.

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  20. Totally loathed them. My school meals were cooked by nuns
    who had been forced to cook for the Germans during WW2. Needless to say, I think they thought they were still cooking for them....everything presented was dire to say the least. Just a few examples here, green curried mince, gristle stew and my personal favourite, boiled chicken which still contained their inner organs...YUM!

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  21. YuK - Think we were at school the same time! The menu is as I remember it, and pleaded with mum to let me have sandwiches!
    I used to make Rice Krispie Crunchie when our boys were small, have you ever tried the same recipe but adding marshmallows? Put all the ingredients (not the Krispies) in the microwaveable jug and when the chocolate and marshmallows have melted quickly add Krispies and then make the cake. Has a toffee texture. Works best in the microwave as the marshmallows tend to burn in a pan.
    Julie xxxxxx

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    1. I haven't Julie, I have a horror of marshmallows, shudder. I expect I'd probably scoff them all melted up with chocolate and rice krispies though.

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  22. School dinners, not the happiest memories! I swallowed a plum stone while eating a school dinner - I must have been about 6 - and the dinner lady told me not to worry, a tree would grow inside me. I had nightmares for months about it growing so big I sprouted branches.

    I have a recipe for chocolate concrete and it was the children's favourite 'cake'... I still make it for them when we're all together.

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  23. I never had school dinners, but I love your treacle tin vase and am humming Tori Amos' 'Cornflake Girl' as I read.

    But, speaking of the price of cornflakes, do you know, Sue, what the difference is between cut-price supermarket milk and non-supermarket milk? Here, the latter is so much nicer, but I can't figure out why. Surely milk is milk.

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    1. Possibly it hasn't been homogenised Mise? I can get non-homogenised milk from the farm shops nearby with a lovely layer of cream on top of the milk.

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  24. I never had school dinners, I went to a primary school where I was allowed to go home for a hot dinner so the joy of chocolate concrete and its ilk totally passed me by.

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    1. You don't know what you've missed....

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  25. Overall, I didn't like school dinner (at a girls' grammar school in the late 1950s/early 1960s) and after I've been sick once too often I insisted that I took sandwiches and cake and fruit - a few of us did this and had a table on our own in the hall, away from the canteen where the diners ate. But there was one pudding I loved and missed - hot, pink blancmange! Now you'd think that would be revolting - it was meant to be set into 'shape' surely, it being blancmange? But no, it was served hot, like custard, with a dollop of jam and I loved it. Salad was nice, too, with a load of grated carrot (cheap and filling and nutritious), but not much else.
    Margaret P

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  26. Anonymous4:58 pm GMT

    My MIL was a school dinners lady and gave us one of those metal jugs (which is still going strong) when we got married. On the whole I enjoyed school dinners but tapioca (yuk!) and semolina (double yuk!) have never passed my lips since I left in 1966.

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  27. School dinners improved as I moved through school!! I hate cereal too, I eat homemade granola, eggs and toast or porridge...pity I can't persuade the rest of my family to ditch the cereal!!

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  28. I have very fond memories of my school dinners, made fresh on the premises by a bevvy of lovely dinner ladies. Iiked the pink custard too. I LOVE cornflake cake. You've made me want to make one now.
    Leanne xx

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  29. Oh Sue, you do remind me of so many recipes I had in my "repertoire" in my early adult days of having my own kitchen, trying out variations of recipes my mom had used.

    Nowadays, I admit to having either Cheerios ,during warm weather or oatmeal during cooler weather, for breakfast. You've encourage dme to take a little stroll down through memory lane . I know that I baked something involving Rice Crispies, and prepared some sort of chicken casserole that called for cornflakes...or was that also the Crispies?

    Not sure, but it was fun trying to retried the memory. xo

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  30. My primary school puddings were delicious. Hot chocolate sponge with minty custard was a favourite (although everyone hated the yogurt that came in exactly the same huge containers as the school glue, we swore that they mixed them up). Sadly though the old dinner ladies retired part-way through my time there and they were replaced with some much younger cooks who really couldn't cook at all.

    One particularly nasty dinner involved some kind of dumplings on gristly stew. They'd obviously overdone the bicarb as the dumplings tasted revolting, all soapy and salty. I remember the whole class ended up being kept in over lunchtime as some bright spark had come up with the idea of throwing the dumplings out of the window to get rid of them. Unfortunately the Head's car was right underneath the window ...

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    1. That's hilarious - I have visions of a red car (no idea why red) splattered all over with dumplings!

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  31. Anonymous6:37 pm GMT

    Totally loathed them. Cannot remember a single positive experience. I do remember being made to sit after lunch for a long time to eat a chocolate mousse. I refused to eat it as I had specifically asked what it was. It was sold to me as a chocolate mousse but I discovered it was the previous days tapioca disguised as a chocolate pudding. The pudding had been completely misrepresented. I stuck to my guns. Not a mouthful passed my lips. Eventually the school sent me back to my classes.

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  32. I had School lunches at secondary school and whilst I liked them and they were filling, they were not very imaginative
    Puddings were usually some sort of sponge, either chocolate, dried fruit or ginger. They were all called "stodge". Need I say more? But the custard was lovely whether yellow, pink or white, each variety made with cornflour!

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  33. Pati from London11:54 am GMT

    My primary school was run by Italian nuns who cooked on site for the few of us who stayed for lunch. Most people went home for lunch but my parents worked.... The food was great but as time went by and the nun chef grew older they moved onto school dinners... Also more and more people stayed for lunch and i guess they couldn't cope with the numbers... That was the end of yummy homemade fresh food and the beginning of crappy lunches......
    I love your treackle tin...... Genius! Pati x

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  34. School dinners were hugely variable (I went to so many schools - the 7th was my boarding school, at age 11). I always loved the way mashed potato was served using ice cream scoops. Boarding school breakfast was always an ordeal - started with nasty porridge, and on Sundays cornflakes with HOT milk - I could throw up at the memory. One school gave out dinner tickets, and the kids on free school meals were issued with a different coloured ticket - awful.

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  35. I only took school dinners occassionally but they were alright. We got nice custard!

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  36. Hello Sue, I'm so glad that I have found your blog. I love your Autumn photographs and am now wallowing in nostalgic memories of school dinners. I remember chocolate sponge and chocolate custard, I now use the comforting memory to stop myself crying at inappropriate moments! I also remember the awful curry which was plain, grey mince sprinkled with curry powder- Yuk!

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  37. I'm so glad you liked the cornflake tarts! And yes, I bought the basics ones for mine too. (I must do something with the half bag of rice krispies I've got as well!)

    I only had school dinners half the year when it was cold. Our dinner ladies were lovely, the food was pretty good and it was so unlike my parents' cooking that I loved it. The only low points was the weirdly minced cabbage and the spaghetti hoops which I always loathed. We also got handmade chips that were the very best I've ever eaten. Even the teachers had them on those days. They are my equivalent to a Proustian madeleine...

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  38. Just found your blog thru Bunny Mummy.
    Gosh, you've certainly stirred up some memories.
    I feel a bit sad that not all of them are good ones.
    Who was in charge of serving up such awful food to generations of British children?
    Hopefully things are better nowadays. My Grandson is of the age receiving free school meals. He does eat them without complaint tho I haven't been able to see them for myself.
    Looking forward to your next post.

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  39. Most amused by your description of school dinners - I remember those well, even though I only had them for a few years before we left England in 1973!! Sometimes I catch a whiff of something and it takes me right back - we all wanted the jelly and ice-cream days lol. I was also happy on the days when we got beetroot salad… ;o

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  40. I rather liked school dinners - except when it was sago/tapioca, bananas and custard (I'm with you on the heaving) or worst of all, boiled marrow in white sauce ........

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