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!
This marvellous book was given to me by Alix for my birthday a couple of years ago and I have used it regularly since, although always skipping or substituting an ingredient or two, as is the way with weekday cooking. For you, gentle readers, I shall do things strictly as Ms Chowdhary instructs! I have the fourth imprint from 1963, though it was first published in 1954, with the author reassuring readers that they do not need to add plenty of chilli, can omit onions and garlic, and that the majority of ingredients can be obtained ‘from my local grocer, chemist and corn merchant’. She also states that there are 3 or 4 well-known Indian grocers in London.
Yes, the recipe is just called ‘Spinach’. Can you guess what it is? Well done, it’s spinach. I had this with the Shoyu Fried Chicken. It’s from Japanese Food and Cooking by Stuart Griffin (1963), a book which opens with the lines ‘Before Mrs American Housewife docked at Yokohama or landed at Haneda, her husband Mr. American had scoured the Japanese scene, gastronomically’ and goes on to lay out a number of imaginary situations where Mrs American Housewife is gradually and subtly eased by Mr American into giving the weird native food a try (and eventually being converted to the point of penning this recipe book with Mr American). Here we find Mrs American being served some rice:
‘Yoshie or Michiko slaps down a big white mound besides the peas and the carrots, in the home-fry’s shadow, next to the bread and butter. “Starch!” gasps Mrs American Housewife in a stricken voice, but yields’.
This was from the Time Life Scandinavian cookbook, and made for the Eurovision party. Being somewhat flustered (NOT drunk) by the time it came to making these, Elly kindly made up the batter for me. I then joined in the process and started to cook these without adding the spinach. Yes, that’s right. I made spinach pancakes without spinach. Happily, it quickly (about 5 minutes) dawned on me that the clue was in the name, and I whacked in a load of defrosted frozen spinach. This made quite a thick batter, but it fried off nicely, into substantial pancakes. I thought they were really nice and would certainly make them again.
This is from the Penguin book of Portuguese Cooking and was one of the hot dishes for the Eurovision party. I did not serve it with bacalhau, as I do not like it much.
Here’s an appetizer from Joyce M Stubbs Home Book of Greek Cookery (1963). It’s Spinach Pasties and sounds quite delightful. This was my first time cooking with filo pastry and I can’t say I was very confident. I was pleased with how quickly it defrosted though, almost suspiciously fast. What is filo pastry anyway? It’s so thin; it’s unnatural. I didn’t trust it an inch. I’m afraid I was rather hungry when I made these and the entire process was rushed. This shows in the results. I know very little about Greek cuisine, not much more beyond moussaka and the existence of feta and I have certainly not done it justice with this.
Today a guest-post from loyal reader and Asian food enthusiast Martha!
Sick of vegetarian recipes that act as if rich food is a mortal sin? Then read on! This my friend is the dish for you.
I bought this book in a charity shop, mostly because of it’s fabulous front cover and spiral binding and partly for the author’s name. Another Martha, yay!