Another book bought on last year’s Highland trip was Lady Barnett’s Cookbook by Isobel Barnett, a successful, educated middle class woman who married a successful middle class, educated man who was knighted and whose title was used by his spouse to further her career. Yes, this is a celebrity cookbook, 1960s-style.While the airbrushed version of her life appears on the dust jacket in CV form (click on image to enlarge). The internet tells a story which induced my co-bloggeuse to exclaim ‘Oh, she’s tragic!’ (though far more sympathetic than Premiership footballer who pinch supermarket doughnuts).
This book is something of a mixed bag. It’s a guide to entertaining for people who already have a large encyclopedia-type cookbook and are now seeking to bless others with their efforts. I wonder how much it owes to the personal tastes of its author and her guests? Some dishes seem like a genuine treat, others are more along jelly, cream and bananas lines. (Actually, what am I talking about? If someone served me jelly, cream and bananas, I would probably kiss them.)
(The ‘more out-of-the-ordinary’ way of using them ‘a l’Indienne’ i.e with curry sauce. No.)
According to my (admittedly limp) grasp of food hygiene, eggs should either be hot or cold, so please don’t keep them in warm, salted water. Salmonella is a real downer, or so I’ve heard.
This dish may seem like something one might put together from bits found at the back of the fridge (a couple of eggs, a bit of bechamel, some greens where it doesn’t matter if they’re a bit old because they’re going to be wilted, chopped and covered in hot cheese) but it results in something filthily delicious and incredibly filling. I had it as was, but you might want a triangle or two of crisp toast on the side. Recommended now the nights are miserable.
Mollet’ed by Elly
ETA: I have just only just realised that I could see her in her prime – voila! A clip of What’s my Line from 1955. Enjoy!
I recently bought Mark Kurlansky’s ‘Choice Cuts: a miscellany of food writing’ published by Vintage in 2002 (from the Marie Curie shop on Green Lanes for £1). It’s a 450 page selection, with authors including Pliny the Elder, Ludwig Bemelmans, Wole Soyinka, and M.F.K Fisher (and of course, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin). Among the 19th and 20th century writers, there is a bias towards female food writers from the U.S. which I think is partly Kurlansky’s effort to boost the reputations of some authors overlooked in favour of European men. It’s full of great recipes in the various sections on meat, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and puddings, although I skimmed over some of the more verbose pieces.
I decided to only going to cook half of this recipe from 1393’s Le Menagier de Paris (translated by Kurlansky himself, although there’s another version here), as the majority of the steps are concerned with cooking a piece of beef so as to make the cut tough and bloodless (no, thanks – just a medium rare steak is fine). One of the most obvious (and delicious!) differences between 20th and pre-20th century recipes is the use of spices. Before the advent of the electric fridge, seasonings such as garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper and lemon juice were used liberally, both to preserve food and to disguise the any fetid notes in the flavour.
After Alix’s success with salads, I was delighted to find a copy of Ursel and Derek Norman’s Chicken Feed (Fontana, 1979) for £1 in the RSPCA shop on the Hornsey Rd (prices for it online start at £18 – wha’?!) and even more delighted to find that it is full of delicious-sounding, easy dishes. I chose this one as 1) different to how I would normally make chicken 2) I could make it without shopping for extra ingredients.
Recipe three is from 500 Recipes for Casserole Dishes by Catherine Kirkpartick (this impression is from 1969). Published by Paul Hamlyn the book is from a series of ’500 Dishes for..’ books, I also have 500 Recipes for Mixers and Blenders in my collection, and amongst the others published were 500 Recipes for Slimmers,and 500 Recipes for Home-made Wines and Drinks. Both the books I have are somewhat battle-weary, yellowing glue and musty dry pages – these books look like they’ve been well used, and indeed the contents are mainly decent standard recipes – good on their own but also with a lot of potential for improvisation and ingredient substitution – a quality that usually means a book will be referred to often.
Posted in 1960s, 500 Recipes..., Catherine Kirkpatrick
Tagged celery, garlic, lamb, mixed spice, onion, paprika, parsley, pepper, rice, stock, tomato