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Shopping with a foodie: Polly Russell

by Leah Hyslop
Shopping with a foodie: Polly Russell
Image: Liam Bailey

We take to the aisles with food historian Polly Russell, presenter of the BBC’s Back In Time For... TV series. 

Pickled walnuts

‘These originated in the 18th century, when sharp-tasting condiments like pickles and ketchups were very popular. Today, people have forgotten about them, but they’re great in a casserole – they slightly offset the richness.’

Fever-Tree tonic water

‘You’ve got to have gin and tonics at this time of year. I make mine with Fever-Tree, plus a big piece of orange peel.’


‘When I was filming Back In Time For Tea, we featured pan haggerty, which is a bit like the North’s answer to a tortilla – so delicious! It’s a really easy family dinner, lovely served with lots of crispy bacon.'


‘My favourite summer dessert is rhubarb fool, made using cooked rhubarb and whipped double cream. It’s a proper old-fashioned British treat that I remember my gran making.’



‘It seems very exotic, but saffron has a long tradition in British cooking. I love the unique flavour it brings to rice or chicken – rich but somehow summery.’


‘I can’t live without this. I use it to brown my pies – you thin it with a little hot water, then paint it on your pastry. It creates a gorgeous caramelised, crusty glaze.’

Pearl barley

‘A storecupboard essential. Brilliant in summer salads with lots of fresh herbs, or for bulking out a stew or casserole.’

Salad Cream

‘I’m an ambassador for Heinz Salad Cream. I like to put it in a fish-finger sandwich, mixed with lots of capers – a bit like a cheat’s tartare sauce.’

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