Author Archives: Elly

Cobble Cakes

A new guest post from Cluedo! Find her others here, here , here and here.

I’d like to propose a new unit of time decay just like carbon dating, with at least the same level of accuracy, but with the added advantage that humans can release as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as they want without distorting the results.

I propose to call the time RHKD, short for “rate of Hussarenkrapferl  decay”, based on a German biscuit delicacy* that my grandmother used to bake**

This RHKD seems an adequate measure to guage the popularity of biscuits in my house. Preliminary empirical data gathering seems to suggest that 45 Hussarenkrapferl last circa 24 hours, among 5 flatmates here, which would be a formula of t/n/g, where t is the length of time in hours the portions last, n stands for the number of biscuits, and g for the number of greedy buggers who gobble them all up without leaving me some gourmands who have access to them.

On an inverse scale then, the closer RHKD is to zero, the more delicious the biscuit. The current RHKD for Hussarenkrapferl in my abode is therefore 0.10.

All of this highly scientific discussion of rates of decay is necessary to highlight one of the key problems with the recipe that I made from the very strange book that is the Kitchen Garden Cook Book by Audrey Ellis from 1972. I say strange because it seems to assume that people with allotments have beehives from which they can source plentiful honey that is required for the many honey-based recipes. It is also definitively a book for time- and real estate rich, because the diversity of recipes included suggests access to a big allotment and an even bigger amount of time to grow and source and nurse all those flowers, herbs, vegetables and bees required to prepare stuff from this book. A bit of a far cry from the She Quicky Cookbook .

Nevermind. After leafing through the book for the umpteenth time to find something that didn’t require me to cook cabbage roses in sugar or trying to figure out what the hell nasturtium is (Editor’s note: this), I chanced upon cobble cakes, a relatively simple affair of butter, sugar, flour and cornflour, baking powder, almonds, candid peel, cinnamon, ground cloves and ginger and rum. As you can see from the pictures below, the recipe calls for icing, but as the whole thing was already quite a sweet affair, I didn’t bother with it. It is an easy recipe that shouldn’t present problems to anyone who knows their way around a food processor. 

Cobble Cakes recipe 1

Cobble cake recipe 2

There were a couple of substitutions: unfortunately, I made these cookies just before the start of the consumerismfest season lovely Christmas season, so I couldn’t find candied peel in any of the three supermarkets I came across that day, but I did manage to find a jar of minced meat. I put in a little less than the candied peel required to make up for the increased sweetness. I also had run out of cinnamon and cloves****, but did have ginger and rum.

The picture below shows c 25 of the cakes, and although grumpy timer cat seems to disagree, they looked and tasted really quite nice. Their RHKD of 0.6 however indicates that they are nowhere near as moreish as Hussarenkrapferl – they are just a bit too sweet, and you wouldn’t want to eat more than one with a nice cuppa.

cakes

It may be that the citric flavour of the candid peel makes a difference, so if anyone wants to have a go, let me know your results!

* Ok ok, they are just posh jammy dodgers

**  When she baked them, they looked like perfect little round darling donuts with a dollop of jam nestling in the little hollow that she had made with her dainty thumb. Mine look more like they’ve been steam-rollered by a very small troll living in my oven. Like jammy dodgers then.

***A variation of the formula is n/t/(g+bw), where b is brownness and w the number of weirdo flatmates who prefer darker/burnt cookies, which entices at least one w in my house to increase the rate of decay, but this may be a highly localised variation of the formula and shall therefore be disregarded for future reference.

**** AlthoughI think that the sock monster may have a herbal cousin who smokes all the stuff. We usually have at least 5 jars of flavourless cinnamon in the cupboard.

Lemon and Marrow Jam

Apologies for the sporadic posting over the last year; rest assured we continue to do many (mostly) well-intentioned,  (often) ill-advised things in the kitchen (and out of it). Today, however, I am delighted to share this guest-post from Salada. Her others (all advisable) can be found here, here and here.

marrowIt has been a productive summer in the vegetable plot for members of the marrow-squash family, hence an autumnal recipe that doesn’t involve apples (contenders nonetheless).  It comes from Patricia White’s “Food as Presents” (see Apple Muffins for details).  Finding house-room for many squashes is exercising my ingenuity.  I grew two types of winter squash and two sorts of courgette (yellow and green).  A squash weighing about 1.5kg, pictured, provided the main ingredient for the jam, augmented by a few courgettes.  I have made this jam but not for several years, and remember it as being better than lemon curd – lighter to eat and much easier to cook, there being no chance of curdling eggs.
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Banana Mayonnaise

Good Housekeeping Cookery BookAt a recent dinner party, before we started eating, the usually decorous hostess had the kind of glint in her eye which brings fear to the staid palate. After half-heartedly offering to help in the kitchen, I wandered off to chat to the other guests and drink, only to later hear the words ‘Good Housekeeping’ ‘fifties’ and ‘mayonnaise’.

My salad choices for the blog have mostly been quite conservative, so I was grateful for the opportunity to try a combination of foods which have thus far only gladdened my heart separately.

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The Original Tomato Sauce

Another blog post from Talia, the Master of Many Blogs. Today she’s working on a subject which began with a post on her latest food blog, I Eat Alone. Her previous guest posts can be found here and here. 

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 9.41.33 PMIt began with trying to figure out how to make my own tomato sauce, and turned into one of my historical research adventures. After noticing a citation that the first recipe for tomato sauce was included in a 17th century Italian cookbook by Antonio Latini, I had to track it down. I finally located the correct passage, in translation:

“Salsa di pomodoro alla spagnola (tomato sauce, Spanish style). Take half a fresh tomatoes dozen ripe tomatoes and roast them in embers, and when they are charred, carefully remove the skin, and mince them finely with a knife. Add as many onions, finely minced, as desired; chilies [peparolo, in Neapolitan dialect], also finely minced; and a small amount of thyme. After mixing everything together, add a little salt, oil, and vinegar as needed. It is a very tasty sauce, for boiled dishes or anything else.”
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Danish Cheese Loaf

This charming item was a gift from someone who knows my favourite kind of  vintage cookbook are those which contain both horrors for me to laugh at and things that might be OK to actually try and cook. Danish Dairy cookbook cover

I’m not an expert in Danish dairy, but luckily that canyon has been bridged, by this handy-dandy guide to the cheeses of Denmark. What more could a girl want?

Types of Danish Cheese

And I wasn’t joking about the range of recipes, either:

This is normal

This is normal

This is not.

This is not.

So what to choose?  When I realised ingredient list was basically a salad held together with dough (Walnuts! Blue cheese! Celery!), I knew I had to try it.

Danish cheese bread illustration

Danish Cheese loaf recipe

 

 

As I didn’t have any self-raising flour at home, I used plain and added some extra baking powder, but then fretted that I hadn’t added quite enough, also the dough felt rather heavy. I decided not to risk creating a flour-fat-seed brick and formed it into a round, flat loaf on a baking tray.

I also forgot about the celery – probably for the best.

Results
I enjoyed the amount of bits in this loaf greatly and would consider the proportions suitable for experimenting with any type of nut and crumble-able cheese. The black sesame seeds were overkill however, rendering the whole thing a bit fibrous and worthy.

If, like me, you have a mild fear of yeast, this is a fine recipe to keep in your arsenal.

Loafed by Elly

Corn Chowder

Today we welcome another guest post by Cluedo – find her others here and here

As readers of my last post may have already twigged, I’m not a big fan of domestic goddess style cooking, so the She Quickie Cookbook with its faux feminist agenda is a bit of a red rag to me. Be a career woman AND a fabulous cook, and do it all in 15 mins to make your man happy. Hand me the vomit bowl.

But maybe I should not be so unkind, after all, working married women in the 60s were a bit of a novelty*. On the other hand, taking the mickey out of the cookbook is fun, so I thought I’d do it again. This time, I chose the Corn Chowder (cost: 3/9, calories: about 550 each). I had most of the ingredients, so I didn’t check on the pricing, although 3/9 would be £2.85 in today’s prices – I somehow doubt you could get all the necessary stuff for that money nowadays

Now for the cooking:

The recipe is nice and easy as you can see from the images below. I did actually try and be more organised this time, i.e. put all the stuff that I needed near me rather than what I usually do, which is run around frantically, pulling stuff from the fridge and the pantry like I only just realised now that the onions should go in with the minced meat rather than sitting unchopped at the back of my food box while the mince is nearly done. So I was quietly confident that my timing would be not too far off this time, after it took me more than double the time to make the Tomato Rarebit – bad Cluedo.

But again, no such luck.
She Quickie cookbook corn chowder recipe

She Quickie cookbook corn chowder recipe pt 2

Of course, I blame the cookbook: despite their near-anal description of things to collect and plates to warm up before you start, they completely omit that you would need a chopping board and that you need to peel the potato**. Also, I defy anyone but Antony Bourdain on coke to peel and slice an onion, dice 4 rashers and cut up 2 potatoes and 2 tomatoes in 3 minutes, especially if you need to peel the potatoes first. Or did they have pre-peeled potatoes back then? It also doesn’t help that Sainsbury’s fancy bacon comes fanned out in the pack rather than just stacked as it does with their cheap “I-Can’t Believe-This-Has-Pork-In-It”-water bacon. So you lose valuable time stacking them up to dice them in one go. Time is money, honey, especially if you’re working against the She-Quickie-Cookbook-Clock! Also, in which universe do potatoes cook in 10 minutes in not very much water, even when sliced?

Anyway, trying not to be too panicked by the quarter hour deadline, I proceeded apace, and it was all very straight-forward. I did start frying the onions, bacon, potatoes and tomatoes in the frying pan rather than as indicated in the sauce pan, which I always find weird. But that’s probably just me. I transferred the mix over when it was time to put in the sweetcorn & water. The fritters scared me a little bit, as I have a similar success rate with nice-looking fritters as with fried eggs, but surprisingly, they turned out ok. And were very yummy. I altered very little of the recipe – no cooking fat but sunflower oil for the fritters as I was out of Stork and prefer oil over fat anyway. I also used quite a lot more cheese than indicated, but that was because I was trying out lacto-free cheese for the first time and pigged out. Note: lacto-free cheese is bland, but works quite well as glue-cheese required for this dish. I halved the ingredients, and ate the lot alone, when I realised that it’s meant for four – which will go some way to explaining why I felt quite so full afterwards *burp*. But who quarters a tin of corn, and one rasher is never enough, in any circumstance.

It is nice and yummy, so if you’re looking for something quick and easy and comforting, it’s your ticket. It took me 27 minutes to prepare it, which is slightly better than last time. And the potato was still undercooked, albeit edible.

Err, and I do have to apologise for the lack of a picture – I was so hungry by the time I was finished that I simply forgot. Trust me, it looked nice, like the picture in the cookbook, just in colour.

*(not really, women have always worked, but that’s a yarn to be unspun somewhere else at another time…)

**they give you 2 minutes to collect all the stuff together. Hah, I laugh in your face Quickie Cookbook, I live in a house with 7 other people, my tin opener cannot be found that quickly. And cleanly.

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

Food as presents - P H White cover

We are delighted to wake this blog from a few restorative weeks of hibernation with a guest post from Salada. Her other posts can be enjoyed here and here.

No muffin recipes appear in the VCBT list. Honestly, I checked.  Patricia H White is, assuming she’s still with us, an American who moved to England in the 1960’s.  This book was first published in 1975, and encourages the tradition of taking a bit of trouble with your gifts, or DIY as it’s known.  The recipes are divided into eight categories such as preserves, potted foods, sweetmeats and baked goods.  Ms White gives advice on packaging and storage, and how long the produce will last.

This recipe looks like a standard muffin mixture.  Commercial muffins nowadays have expanded to massive proportions, but these seem to come from a more frugal era.  Apple and cinnamon is a classic flavour match.
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Eels Landaises

Today I am delighted to publish this guest post from ace food eater and writer Kake, who has been writing a series on London Road, Croydon which you can enjoy here. The link to this post is here.

While trawling through the archives at the Croydon Local Studies Library recently, I made a delightful discovery that immediately brought the Vintage Cookbook Trials to mind. I had actually been looking for information on Jay’s Furnishing Stores, a chain of hire-purchase furniture shops that operated in the UK during the 20th century — but to my surprise, nestled among the cuttings of newspaper adverts offering “guaranteed delivery” and “the Best Terms in the World” was a small booklet entitled “20 Ways of Cooking Fish”.

Published by Jay’s at an unspecified date (though an anonymous hand has written “prob 1932” on the back), this booklet contains recipes written by a Monsieur X M Boulestin, billed as “The Worlds [sic] Greatest Cookery Expert”. [Editor's note: He definitely knew what to do with potatoes.] The rather tenuous connection between furniture sales and fish is supported by a short statement on the front cover: “Our object has always been a double one – to supply the Best Value in Fine Furniture and to ensure a Happy Home to each of our customers – by freedom from worry – Every housewife knows what part cooking plays in making a happy home.

Flipping through the recipes, I was briefly tempted by Cod Normande (featuring cider, parsley, shallots, and mushrooms) and Skate with Caper Sauce (which involves cooking the skate along with some of its liver plus cloves, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and vinegar). However I thought the cod dish might be a bit boring, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get skate liver; indeed, I hadn’t previously known they even had livers. So I eventually settled on Eels Landaises, a lightly stewed dish of eels with red wine and prunes.

eels-landaises-ingredientsThe author states that this recipe comes from “the Landes”, which Wikipedia tells me might refer to several places in France, but I suspect the most likely is the département of Landes itself, particularly as Wikipedia also tells me that M Boulestin had his own holiday home there. I found some interesting pages online while investigating further: Landais Folklore discusses the customs and geography of the area, and Landais Gastronomy discusses the food, mentioning eels among other things.

Take two or three moderate-sized eels

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The Bakers’ ABC: Z is for Zea

An old name for spelt, which is identical with beer barley or beer corn, or German wheat, much grown in Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, &c., and used for malting.

From The Baker’s ABC by John Kirkland, formerly Head Teacher of National School of Baking, published 1927 by Gresham

Boeuf en Daube (Braised beef)

Standeasy cookbook special occasions front cover

One of the great things about this blog are the books people give me – this gem, purchased somewhere in south London, is a stone-cold classic.  Spiral-bound  like a desktop calendar and part of the ‘Standeasy Cookbook’ series, Special Occasions was published in 1979 by Bay Books, edited by Vivian Allwood, with the home economist Ann Page-Wood. You can tell it’s a late 70s cookbook, because two out of the 48 recipes contain tragically misplaced grapes. As you can see – it’s still fully operational:

Standeasy cookbook special occasions still standing

Nestled between the recipes for vermouth fish loaf and guinea fowl madelaine however, there are some tasty dishes – dinner party standards like devils on horseback and duck a l’orange and from this range, I chose the boeuf en daube after a craving for beef stew persisted after eating an excellent boeuf carbonnade (made by someone else).

boeuf en daube recipe

I cooked a much smaller portion than listed in the recipe. used some excellent stewing steak from Marsh produce (currently selling through Harringay market) and instead of belly pork, I used a thick rasher of back bacon. I also added  larger quantities vegetables than listed and left the meat to marinate for longer (two days, in fact!). Also, as I added just a couple of dried mushrooms for flavour (and picked them

Results
It may not be lovely looking, but it was easily the best stew I’ve ever made. Whether it was the extra veg or the extra marinating time, the sauce was smooth and delicious with tender (somewhat irregular…) pieces of meat and vegetables. Highly recommended (as long as you add an extra leek).

boeuf en daube

Daube’d by Elly