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:
I would love to mock this book unrestrainedly, but it was actually written (in 1983) by the mostly sensible Lorna Walker, who also produced The Pennywise Cookbook, The Complete Bread Book (well reviewed on Amazon) and Clever with Cream (less well-reviewed on Amazon). In the introduction she defines the 9 types of cream (double, single, whipping, half, soured, clotted, extra thick, frozen and sterilised) and states that taste is individual and seasoning should be adjusted to suit (Amen!). She also recommends that you don’t include cream in every course of a meal and ‘One of the big pluses of fresh cream is that just a very little stirred into, or topped on to, a dish can make it look extra special’. (I would suggest a very little cream topped onto a dish may well make it look as though a pigeon has just passed over it.)
The book is divided into menus according to the type of dish and was written in partnership with the Milk Marketing Board, with all the recipes calling for English cream and milk, as opposed to some inferior foreign kind (Welsh? Scottish? French?!). Details are given for Chicken Tenerife (chicken and banana fried in butter, covered with a sauce of brandy, cream, almonds and bacon), ham and egg mousse, pineapple and chocolate ring gateau and ‘The Abbott’s Favourite Supper’ (a slice of buttered brown bread, topped with a slice of ham, topped with half a pear, stuffed with a mixture of stilton and cream, topped with tarragon mayonnaise, dusted with paprika). To drink: Tequila Sparkle (egg white, sugar, tequila, coffee liqueur, double cream and milk).
Of course, the book also contains some dishes which aren’t the stuff of nightmares, otherwise I would have never bought it. Classics like pea and mint soup, seafood pie and croquembouche are all featured, as well as some more interesting dishes. (One day I will attempt the artichoke and tomato soup with cheese soufflé topping.)
To start with, however, I decided to try lemon, nut and thyme dressing. I often use yoghurt as salad dressing and I like nuts and raisins in salads, so this dressing probably seems less odd to me than to some people.
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I rather enjoyed it – sharpy, creamy dressing; crunchy, chewy sweet pecans, raisins and almonds; aromatic thyme. It was basically the salad I normally make , but differently assembled and a tad more luxurious. The addition of the thyme was interesting and reminded me of Turkish food. I definitely recommend sticking to simple green salad leaves – anything bitter would be a clash of too many flavours. I felt the addition of some cold cuts and some gherkins, it would be a very nice complete meal.
Thyme’d by Elly