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.
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:
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).
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
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).
Daube’d by Elly
I bought Cooking from Cyprus in the excellent secondhand bookshop on Clarence road in Hackney, which I used to go to fairly often when I lived there a few years ago. (It was different then – there was an ASBO on the entire street.) Anyway, genial proprietress Rose sells fiction, poetry, arts, politics, health, lots of childrens books and a small selection of cookery books, with a focus on Black authors
I rather like this book because the author is as excited as hell about the recipes. In an attempt to convey the hospitality of Cyprus, he comes across like someone who’s had a good go at at the grappa and a followed it with a couple of cups of strong καφές. Luckily most of the recipes seem to warrant this level of enthusiasm – well marinated grilled meats (the full gamut of ruminants, poultry, game and swine), several pilau, flat breads and mezze. Choosing to cook this stew was entirely based on what I already had in the house (and had taken out of my freezer to defrost). Fans of Turkish food will note the word ‘ttavas’ as similar to ‘tava’.
Straight forward to assemble, the only change I made a half portion of the recipe and use tinned, not fresh, tomatoes. The smell while cooking was reminiscent of brown bread. I ended up with 3 portions (by my standards), not sure what that says about my eating habits (um, I like stew.)
Apologies for the blurry photo – low blood sugar and dying batteries meant I only had the chance to wave the camera over the bowl before it conked out/I did.
As you can see, I ate the fruity, savoury stew with some mashed potato and will definitely be adding this dish to my (unwritten) rota of excellent week-night dinners.
Ttavased by Elly
This recipe comes from a vintage classic, Diet for a Small Planet (1971, Frances Moore-Lappé). This book, joint published by Friends of the Earth and Ballentine, is one of the first which pulls together environmentalism and nutrition, and has become short-hand for a certain kind of eating associated with the 1970s – all brown and fibrous, all the time.
The theory behind this book is that combining certain vegetables proteins gives equivalent nutrition to eating meat (more about that here). Various substances not normally found in my kitchen make frequent appearances in this book: skimmed milk powder, brewer’s yeast, soy flour. The recipes are grouped into protein matches, some of which sound more appetising than others: rice and yeast, peanuts and sunflower seeds, potatoes and milk.
This is from a pamphlet, of cheese cookery, probably seventies, that I picked up for 49p.
Look at their happy faces. The publican and his wife/ husband (they both look like men to me). Standing happily in front of their pumps and rack of tankards this pair look the right people to listen to when it comes to pie making. But wait! Look at the ingredients. Frozen mixed vegetables. Instant mashed potato. This is not a recipe for a publican from a quaint centuries-old Cotswold inn, with pie recipes running through their veins like, er, blood? Like blood? I’ve lost this metaphor somewhat. Never mind. No, this is no traditional recipe; this is a recipe for landlords who want to make a token effort to food, but don’t want to splash out on frivolities such as a chef, ingredients or a kitchen. It’s a few levels below Wetherspoons in the haute cuisine stakes. It’s perfect!
Well. It’s Pie Month again. Where better to find a suitable pie than in the classic Make A Meal Of Cheese? Yes, the recipe book that gave us the abject horror of the Hollow Cheese Loaf. Good idea. There’s no way that could go wrong. Here’s the instructions:
I was recently given copy of Jane Grigson’s English Food, as regular readers will know I have a very high opinion of both her recipes and her writing (the interspersing of history and personal anecdotes is much imitated but never matched). English Food was first published 1974, but I have the 1992 edition, which contains both a new introduction by her daughter Sophie Grigson, as well as a caustic introduction from the 1978 edition, in which she rails against the loss of cooking skills, bland convenience food and patronising food writers.
Omelettes were one of the first things I learned to make and of course all my early attempts were horrific. Now I can make them (the way I like them) on autopilot, likwise frittata, tortilla and even occasionally pajeon.
Another part of Christmas dinner, I volunteered to make this reasoning that being very proficient in cheese sauce and having had one successful attempt at crème pâtissière, I wouldn’t disgrace myself or annoy other people. I consulted the oracle (emailed my mother) and received this reply:
Are you making ‘proper’ eggy custard or just Bird’s outa the
packet? Only two things to remember – eggy, don’t boil or it’ll curdle;
powder, boil or it’ll not thicken well (both – stir like mad!).
This blog is turning into a real life version of Apple Pigs. Still, I’m enjoying all the apple-y goodness, even if you’re getting bored and if you are getting bored, I apologise, but I was given 15 immense apples and have two more apple recipes planned. When I was pondering what next to do, I remembered that Scandinavian Cooking (Beryl Frank 1976) had several recipes for apple cake. (In fact it has three apple cakes and three apple puddings. The book was obviously written before Scandinavian governments decided to intervene in the health of their citizens by cutting beef and dairy subsidies and raising berry farming subsidies.) This one appealed to me because it’s simple, it includes lots of nuts (yum) and it doesn’t require butter, which is great for when you want to bake something, but don’t want to use up all your butter and then have to get properly dressed and go out and buy some more.