After buying 2 cucumbers in order to make one into a Chinese salad for a party, I decided to make the other into salad as well (as opposed to tzatziki and a tzatziki delivery system). After checking the index of Modern Cookery For Private Families (first published in 1845, reissued in 2011 by Quadrille), I decided to make the cucumber dish with the oddest name.
I canot find out much about the words ‘mandram’ or ‘mandrang’ or who went to to where in the Caribbean to bring the recipe back to Acton. Most descriptions of this ‘salad-like hash’ (William Woys Weaver, Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, edited by Harlan Walker, 1991), lead back to Acton’s recipe, although I enjoyed the idea of it as an ‘unfailing stimulant to the appetite‘. Food in England by Dorothy White (1945) has completely different recipe for ‘cucumber mandram’, so perhaps I’ll have a go at that another time.
‘Cooking means carefulness, inventiveness, willingness and readiness of appliance. It means the economy of your grandmothers and the science of the modern chemist; it means much testing and no wasting; it means English thoroughness, French art, Arabian hospitality’ These are Ruskin’s words, as true and inspired today as they were when he wrote them eighty-five years ago.’
So begins The Blender Book by Gwen Robyns, first published by Hamish Hamilton for Thorn Domestic Appliances in 1971.
Occasionally I say to myself ‘No more vintage cookbook buying. You have lots [28 and at least 7 leaflets], you even have some you’ve never cooked from. No more new ones until you’ve had a good go at the ones you have.’
Then I go into the British Heart Foundation shop on Holloway Road and I just can’t hold back:
This is from the I’M IN THE MOOD FOR cookbook published in 1982 by Wear-ever Aluminum. Whilst it concludes in all cases that you are in the mood for food, it does helpfully divide the recipes into occasions such as Rainy Afternoons (Cheese Popcorn), The Pleasure of Your Own Company (Lemon Soup), and Romantic Notions (Stir-fried Cucumbers). I’ve chosen a recipe from the Winding Down section, which seems to link relaxation with violently attacking some meat.
This was from the Time Life Scandinavian cookbook, and was one of my healthy vegetable based dishes for Eurovision. Healthy, plus cream. Of course.
First up in the lemonade trials: Mrs Beeton.
Reading through these recently posted lemonade recipes I didn’t immediately discern that good old Mrs Beeton (dead at 28, having apparently lived part of her childhood actually “in the grandstand of Epsom racecourse”, which may have had something to do with it) makes the same rookie lemonade faux pas of attempting to sweeten it with nothing more than granulated sugar stirred into cold water.
Courgettes are one of my very favourite vegetables and I would gladly eat them all year round, if they tasted of anything in winter. Anyway, it is now courgette season and if you have been organised enough to plant some, you’ll be reaping the rewards. (I’m mostly enjoying things in my garden which have seeded themselves, although, apparently, urban pigeons have so much littered food to eat, they can afford to ignore my cherries. Hurrah!) Here is a quick salad from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (Penguin, 1978).
Piemonth continued in the 3rd week of Feb, (week 2 was cancelled so I could have swine flu/glandular fever/some other rottenness) with the US classic blueberry pie! (Ok, tart.) I have always had quite a low opinion of blueberries au nature – I find them a bit limited and sickly flavour-wise, but this recipe seemed to counter-balance that with the addition of other seasoning.
I decided to attempt a new kind of pastry (to me) also, tart paste, translated from pate a foncer which means lining dough and is apparently the classic French pie dough. (I wouldn’t know, I mostly stick to les gateaux or les mousses in France.) Both of these are taken from Ann Seranne’s The Complete Book of Desserts.
- I made the pastry the day before and stored it in the fridge overnight.
- A quart of blueberries, for our UK/European readers, is about a litre, which was about 900g of blueberries.
- It was very obvious when I was rolling out the pastry that a 9 inch diameter dish was too big. I used a spring-sided cake tin as I only own a small, shallow pie dish.
- The pastry was too thin to shape or lift properly so I didn’t bother trying to cut it into a perfect circle, it ended up somewhat rustic looking
- The recipe specifies to ‘butter’ but not flour the tin. I was suspicious of this but followed the recipe to the letter.
The pastry stuck to the sides, the juice soaked through the pastry and when I started to open the sides of the tin, the pastry started to split. So I served it by scooping it straight out of the tin, with some more of the double cream. The flavour was amazing. My two guests and I all had seconds. (Next time I will use a 6inch diameter dish and halve the amount of filling)
Berried by Elly
I’ve been planning to cook this ever since I bought the Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book ( Penguin, 1978). It is rather lengthy, however I much prefer aubergines after they have been salted and left to drain for a full hour so I knew it would be worth it.
Aubergine Kuku (Kukuye Bademjan)
4 aubergines (about ¾ quarters of a kilo)
2 large onions, chopped very coarsely
4 large eggs
2 heaped tablespoons flour
Salt, freshly ground pepper
This recipe comes from the April chapter of the Reader’s Digest Cookery Year (1976). To be frank, because of their appalling reputation, I was afraid of kebabs until I moved to London and could find them cooked by actual Turkish people. Let’s see how Katie Webber’s recipe measures up! I love that she defines the kebab for those who are innocent of the pleasure of grilled meat on sticks.
Skewered chunks of meat, or kebabs, are popular in the Middle East. They are usually grilled over a charcoal fire, which imparts a smoky flavour to the meat.