From the back of the shelf: Cookbook Quote No. 2

Delightful food

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 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to add to this embryonic collection.  Come on, you must have something from the back of the shelf!


zee, 4th June, 2013

From the back of the shelf: Cookbook Quote No. 1

Harvey Day

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... 

zee, 19th March, 2013

Hindu Festivals

Mridula BaljekarToday 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.

 zee, 29th August 2012

Cheers for Pimms!

pimmsThe 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!

zee, 20th June 2010
Spring is here



Spring by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. This magical and bizarre portrait, painted in the 16th century by the Italian artist,  is part of his Four Seasons series which resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Take a closer look at his fascinating and whimsical paintings  made up of vegetables, fruit and flowers, fish and books here.







Vegetables in a Bowl or The Gardener


zee, 29th April 2010

Thai Festival

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.

zee, 24th August 2010

Final Match of the Day!


The last Match of the Day. Nosh for the box on Sunday... more

Match of the Day - Semi-Final Wednesday


Germany and Spain - great food and wine from both.  A cracking recipe for Falscher Hase, good with a drop of Rioja. more


Match of the Day - Semi-Final Tuesday

uruguaycbNetherlands again! Plenty of chilled beer with, maybe, the odd kopstoot. Grab a Uruguayan Chorizo al pan and we're off..  more.

Match of the Day - Thursday

3dflags-gha1-3Nosh 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.

Match of the Day - Tuesday

spainc1World Cup nosh Tuesday, Spain-v-Portugal - how about  tortilla with some piquillo peppers on the side, a nice bottle of Vinho Verde and perhaps a few slices of chorizo? A bit more here.

Match of the Day - Monday

chilecfFor today's World Cup nosh we're going with Chile.  Nothing against Brazil, far from it, but a Completo Italiano with a Pisco Sour or a glass of Carmenere is where we're at.

Match of the Day - Sunday

germanyf2t11xNosh for the box.  Starting with the big match on Sunday, a themed dish of the day with a matched liquid accompaniment.  England not featured - just yet.

Welcome Summer!




Time for another picture by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

Here are two  versions  of Summer, both painted in 1573.  You can see the date and the artist's name in the embroidery on the jacket.


Photos courtesy of









zee, 10th June 2010

Water margin
comp_waspI 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?

the wasp, 18th May 2010
Bento Box Jewellery

One of those great web discoveries is Carolyn Tillie's food-inspired jewellery.


bento_box_ringssilver_earrings_2aubergine_pendantCarolyn 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.

zee, 13th May 2010

Boris's Conservative Sausage

A gastronomic metaphor from Boris Johnson and Jeremy Paxman- a moment of light relief from the anxiety surrounding the UK election's uncertain outcome.

zee, 9th May  2010

Spring is here



Spring by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. This magical and bizarre portrait, painted in the 16th century by the Italian artist,  is part of his Four Seasons series which resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Take a closer look at his fascinating and whimsical paintings  made up of vegetables, fruit and flowers, fish and books here.







Vegetables in a Bowl or The Gardener


zee, 29th April 2010

From the back of the shelf

bottle_greenThings 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".cocktails_how_to_mix_them

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)

zee, 28 April 2010
Order of the boot
comp_waspJust 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.

the wasp, 27 April 2010