Unseasonal warm weather heralded in January 2016 but was quickly followed by an icy wind that swept away some of our better known chefs and restauranteurs. One by one top names announced closures, Claude Bosi, Hix, Richard Caring, Allegra McEvedy and others all put up For Sale signs. Even the high priest of politically correct eating Ottolenghi has been forced to shutter his Covent Garden eaterie... (more)
"We're all quite well, but getting thinner Not much for tea, still less for dinner Though not exactly on our uppers We've said 'Adieu' to cold ham suppers"
The 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 seems a fitting time for the latest cookbook quote, an extract from the booklet A Collection of Occupation Recipes by Lillie Aubin Morris published by Jersey Museums Service in 1994.
The recipes themselves are indicative of the hardship suffered during the German occupation of the Channel Islands: limpet stew, pastry without butter, salad dressing without oil, plain flour blancmange, potato jelly. But it is the Introduction by Beth Lloyd that sets out some stark facts.
Please send in any suggestions for a quote to add to this collection, using the comments or emailing
My name is Ella. I’m 15 years old, literature enthusiast, avid traveller, star gazer, Head Girl and above all, lover of all foods.
I find inspiration in the friendships food forms, how communities are interlinked by recipes and how a country's culture an be traced through its diet.
To me, the word food is full of colour and creativity; a main passion of mine is being able to explore the personality of a chef as expressed through their food. The choice of flavours and presentation is a way of writing a novel without words, each individual interpretation telling a unique story.
I'm fascinated by food's place in popular culture and it is this fascination that I would like to share with you in this blog.
Stretching a point, whilst this isn't a cookbook quote, it is an ode to wine and so falls into our wider sphere of interest…
For 50p I picked up this slim volume, The Taste of Kinloch, commemorating a century of trading in wines and spirits of Messrs Charles Kinloch (1861-1961). A little googling reveals that Charles Kinloch merged with Courage in 1957:
"One of the largest wines and spirits businesses in Britain, Charles Kinloch & Company Limited, joined the Courage Group in 1957 bringing with it a history of wine trading going back 100 years. This firm was stocking some 4,000 lines of wines and spirits, and, apart from its wholesale and retail trade, supplied outlets throughout Britain"
Now, here's the funny thing: nowhere have I found a mention of the delightful rhyming Foreword by Sir Alan Herbert (aka A.P. Herbert, 1890-1971, humorist, author, MP and law reform activist). Here it is.
Please send in any suggestions for a quote to add to this embryonic collection, using the comments or emailing
. Come on, you must have something from the back of the shelf!
Here's one I found lurking at the back of the shelf in its ragged and foxed dust jacket - Delightful food by Marjorie Salter and Adrianne Allen Whitney, published by Sidgwick and Jackson in 1957 and costing 25s. English titles stand out amongst the French; Dry Curry Cavalry Club, Coldstream Eggs and Sauce Tintagel, for example, and some wonderfully evocative footnotes - more of those later.
But the real gem for our Cookbook Quote is the foreword by Noël Coward in which he reveals that he took up cooking in 1956. And what fun he had with his new hobby - the evening the Oven Blew Up and more. Oliver Messel did some extraordinary illustrations in modern day Arcimboldo mode, one of which is posted under the Coward extract here.
Please send in any suggestions, using the comments or emailing
to add to this embryonic collection. Come on, you must have something from the back of the shelf!
Welcome to the revival of our blog, From the Back of the Shelf, with the first Cookbook Quote. We'd love you to send us suggestions from any forgotten or undiscovered gems gathering dust on the back of your shelves to add to what we hope will become an entertaining collection.
To kick off here is a period piece from The Complete Book of Curries by Harvey Day, published by Nicholas Kaye Ltd, 1966. It may have originally appeared in The First Book of Curries published earlier in 1955. It is part of the introduction to a chapter called 'Rice Dishes' and argues that rice has played a part in forming the English character...
Today is the Keralan festival of Onam! No better time to watch Mridula Baljekar, cook, television presenter and multi-award winning author, introduces us to the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Onam and Holi.
In Part 1, Mridula talks us through the meaning and celebration of each festival, the various foods that are eaten and what they represent.
In Part 2, she shows us a selection of festival dishes in more detail and demonstrates one or two simple recipes.
Look out for her book Vegetarian Cooking of India as well as Great Indian Feasts for an entirely new twist on traditional festive food.
I always look forward to February 1st each year following my monthly abstinence from all kinds of alcohol during the preceding month. I feel it's only fair to give my liver and perhaps, more importantly, my mind a rest from the highs and lows which invariably follow after excessive tippling over the festive season.
This year as always, I celebrated the first day of the second month with a gourmet supper and a good natter with a friend, who is not only a great imbiber but a fountain of knowledge of the demon drink. For our annual get together I served a delightful wine from Rueda, an area that I know well. Half way through the evening, I had one of those moments when you suddenly realise the cost of what is swiftly heading down your throat. I seethed as the two bottles totalled £26. This is not excessive, but my seethe was exacerbated by the fact that I remembered only a few months ago whilst in Spain the same two bottles in a bar cost me only £8. My guest told me he had long given up financing wine merchants and supermarkets by shipping in wine directly.
I have never come across a poor wine merchant but to be fair to the trade, this country has some of the highest taxes on wine anywhere in Europe. I distinctly remember when we joined the EEC being promised that so many goods including wine would become much cheaper and would be on par with our European neighbours. What a con! Successive governments have done nothing but break those promises by continually ladling even more punitive taxes on imported wines and spirits. Excise duty on wine is £2.06. Then of course there is the shopkeeper's profit and another lump of tax to the government at 20% VAT.
Well, I have had enough of paying through the nose so after contacting the wine producer I have just received one case including shipping for £90 a saving of £66.
There are quite a number of Spanish companies now shipping wines and spirits to the UK with huge savings and delivery within seven days. Incidentally, my delightful wine is a Verdejo called Adrede and can be purchased directly from Bodegabierta.es. They also have a fabulous shop and wine gallery in Madrid where you can also order wines at despacioarteyvino.com.
The quintessential English summer drink has to be Pimms. Or Pimms No. 1 to be precise.
Wimbledon is starting tomorrow and this English gin sling is what we want, despite the current lack of sunshine. Jane MacQuitty of The Times has sussed out how to make it from scratch for a version, "Cheat's Pimms", that packs more of a punch than the original which has been degraded over the years.
The basic recipe is quite simply:
1 measure of 40% gin
1 measure of red vermouth
1/2 measure of Bols Orange Curacao
Top up with a decent lemonade, ice, cucumber, borage (or mint) and see you on Henman Hill!
Buddhist monks enjoying the contents of their alms bowls at The Chiswick Thai Festival on Sunday.
What an amazing display of Thai food from at least 10 restaurant stalls - dish upon dish of curry, satay, noodles, salads, fritters, as well as Thai iced coffee and Singha beer, tropical fruit and coconut ice cream. Particular highlights were nahm dtok, a North Eastern salad from Charm in King Street, Hammersmith (beef, mint, coriander, chilli, lime, toasted rice, etc.) and mango with sticky rice from Krungtap in Earl's Court.
There are great recipes for both, of course, in David Thompson's wonderful Thai Food.
Nosh for the box tonight features Ghana and Holland, spanning both of todays World Cup matches. Jollof rice is a sort of Ghanaian paella, though different versions are found all over Africa, and is infinitely variable according to available ingredients.
And how about a kopstoot or two to wash it down?! Details here.
I was somewhat taken aback to discover that a local deli/restaurant has started charging for a glass of tap water. DelAziz, a popular hangout in Fulham, put on 10p per glass of water for myself and my companion. This was not for walking into the place asking for plain water and not ordering anything else but asking for some water to go with our meal. That's the last time I'll frequent the place. Has anyone else experienced such mean spirited service?
One of those great web discoveries is Carolyn Tillie's food-inspired jewellery.
Carolyn told me that she studied Metalsmithing in California but spent the next ten years in the food and wine industry. She has now turned her hand to producing "gastronomically-inspired jewelry to whet the appetite".
Her themes include Champagne, Just Desserts, Bento Box and Farmers Market. The food bits in the jewelry are reclaimed and recycled Japanese gumball machine toys, known as 'gashapon' which are decoratively set in sterling silver and 14k gold. There's lots more here.
Things occasionally get bought, put on a shelf and forgotten about.
Pre-Christmas stressed shopping, I'd grabbed this elegant cone-shaped little bottle as something different for non-alcohol drinkers. Sounded deceptively traditional, Cox's Apple and Plum cordial.
On Christmas morning (not great forward planners here) a last minute challenge was to find a way to make one very small bottle of home-made sloe gin (or was it vodka?) go round ten guests. A much loved book, Cocktails: How to Mix Them was still on top of the piano where it has lived for many years having been passed down through at least three generations. Undated, but with the feel of a war-time utility edition, it is by "'Robert' of the American Bar, Casino Municipal, Nice, and Late of the Embassy Club, London".
Robert had the answer - and we had the ingredients: Sloe Gin Rickey. (1 or 2 lumps of ice, the juice of half a fresh lime, 3/4 gill of Sloe Gin, fill up with cold Soda). Perfect! So was the non-alcoholic version, invented as the doorbell rang with the first guest, 50/50 cranberry juice and ginger ale. It matched exactly the light raspberry-coloured Rickey, the forgotten cordial in the pretty bottle abandonned on the sideboard.
We've only just opened it. It is absolutely delicious!
(More from Robert's Cocktails will, undoubtedly, follow)
Just heard that a Danish restaurant has been voted the world's top eaterie. Amongst other offerings they serve carrots with the soil still on them so that "you can reconnect with the earth". I know exactly where my boot would reconnect given half the chance. What absurdly pretentious twaddle. Glad to hear that Heston B is still up there. He's a genuine English eccentric in love with the theatre of food and I doubt whether he could even spell the word pretension.