Here’s another go-to book. I was given Maw Broon’s Cookbook one Christmas, and I resisted it. It looks like an old book, whimsically recreating the basic meals of the 1950s, complete with hard-to read hand-written notes, and styled-in splashes and old sellotape. The biggest Christmas gimmick, I thought.
But the recipes are really good. They cover all sorts of basic recipes for clapshot, Eve’s pudding, jams and chutneys, roasts and stews, dumpling and the rest. If I have an ingredient that I have never cooked before, this is one of the books I pull off the shelf. If I want to recreate a dish my grandmother used to cook, this is where I will look.
The success of this book has spawned a whole series, none of which I have tried. On the basis of this one, though, I would be happy to give them a go.
A good recipe for left-over mashed potato.
- Mashed potato, seasoned well with salt and pepper – around 250g
- 50g plain flour
- Add the flour to the mashed potato, stirring it at first and then pulling the mixture together to form a dough the consistency of pastry. It doesn’t look like it is going to work at first
- Roll the pastry out very thin, and cut into portion-sized triangles
- Fry in hot butter, turn with a fish-slice to ensure each side is cooked to crispy brown. We used dripping this morning, in place of the butter.
Serve as part of a very ill-advised and delicious fried breakfast.
I was trying out a recipe for mackerel risotto last night, and as I did, I thought of all my recipe books, I have a shelf full of them. Some have favourite recipes in, others are the ones I go to when I am looking for new ways of cooking basic ingredients. This book is one of the latter type.
Valentina Harris started writing recipe books in the 1980s, and by the 1990s she was on television, bringing authentic Italian cookery to us all. She was brought up in Italy, and is a well-regarded chef. I have also got one of her earlier books, about regional Italian cookery and food culture.
Risotto! Risotto! is a fabulous book. It includes a section on the start on making stock, and on the methods of making risotto. On to the recipes, every one I have tried is delicious. The range of recipes covers all sorts of basic ingredients, and the index works well. My favourites include asparagus risotto, beetroot risotto, fennel risotto, lamb and courgette, and the famous boxing day risotto, called risotto with a white ragu.
There is an updated version of the book on Amazon, but my old version is crammed with my favourite recipes and ideas, and available for 1 penny plus postage.
A third Moro recipe. This, we had one night, quite late, after a friend came over with some very fresh mackerel. It was unbelievably good.
- 4 mackerel, gutted and split (butterflied)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 220c
- Butterfly the fish – from the belly side, split the fish open and cut on either side of the back-bone, and pull this away. Open out the fish and remove any obvious small bones.
- Take a pan that can accommodate all the fish, and place it on the stove top, cover the base with olive oil and then turn the heat high.
- When the oil is hot, put the mackerel in, season with salt and pepper and put the pan in the oven for 8 minutes.
- Put the mackerel onto serving plates, and sprinkle with garlic, paprika, parsley and serve with a quarter lemon.
We had new potatoes with this the first time, and bread and salad the second time.
This is another favourite recipe from the Moro cookbook. We are often shocked by how few people will eat offal, but the waste of not eating the whole animal is anathema. This recipe is very quick and easy.
- Sliced liver (we had lambs liver) around 400g
- 5 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 25g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Cut the liver into strips around 5cm long and 2cm wide.
- Season the flour with cumin, salt and pepper,
- Just before frying, dust the liver strips with the flour
- Heat the butter and oil in a pan until the butter starts to foam.
- Quickly, place strips of liver into the hot fat, and cook on each side until it is sealed: the outer layer should be browned, but the centre should still be pink and juicy.
Serve with mayonaise, or with chopped salad, or with a yoghurt and cumin dressing.
This is a delicious lamb soup with chickpeas, one of those ‘meal in a bowl’ soups. I’ve made a few versions over the years, with mint as the main herb on one occasion. This version is the best, and it is from the Moro cookbook. I highly recommend this book, the recipes are delicious.
- 350g Lamb (lamb neck, chops, shank, on the bone)
- 2 litres cold water
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 sticks of celery, chopped,
- a pinch of saffron strands
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 5 grates of nutmeg
- a bunch of fresh coriander leaves
- 100g green lentils (optional)
- 1 can of chickpeas in water
- 1 dessertspoon of tomato puree
- 2 tbsp of plain flour, blended into 2 tbsp of butter
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- Put the lamb in a large pan with the water, and bring to the boil, skimming off any foam that forms. Simmer for five minutes or so while you chop the other ingredients
- Add the chopped onion, celery, garlic, and the saffron, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, salt and pepper and half of the bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped.
- Simmer for half an hour, then add the lentils and tinned chickpeas, including the chickpea water. Simmer for another half an hour.
- Remove the meat from the pan, and let it cool, while you add the tomato puree, lemon juice and the flour mixture. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
- Shred or chop the meat well, and add back to the pan. Continue to cook until the chickpeas are properly tender.
- Serve garnished with the rest of the chopped coriander.
I made this one Christmas, after a trial run at home. The trial run went better, my oven heats evenly and I know the sizes of my pans. On the day, in a rented house, it came out unevenly, but it was still delicious. This is a simple recipe that is worth rehearsing to get it right.
- 4 large ripe plums, stoned, quartered, and chilled overnight
- 60g butter
- 60g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 300g puff pastry
- Put the plums into a dish lined with kitchen paper, cut side down, and chill overnight.
- Turn the oven to 200C
- Take a non-stick oven-proof pan, and cover the base with the butter, sliced, and the sugar. Next, put the plums in, cut side down, in a well-packed layer, and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Heat until the butter/sugar caramelises, gently agitating the pan and keeping a close eye. (An 8 inch dish would be fine) This doesn’t take long, five to ten minutes, and the caramel should be a lovely brown colour.
- Next, roll out the pastry, cut to fit over the plums in the dish. Tuck the edges down over the plums to create an upside-down pastry case.
- Bake for 15 minutes. If the pastry is not completely golden-brown and crisp, lower the heat to 180C and continue for up to another 10 minutes.
Turn the tarte out onto a serving dish, and serve with thick cream, mascarpone or ice-cream.
I came up with this recipe when we were given several frozen items from a friend who was moving. We borrowed the recipe from Moro, and adapted it to what we had.
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 150g panceta or other cured pork belly, finely sliced
- 10 small shallots, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 4 bayleaves
- 1 cinnamon stick (although 1/2 tsp cinnamon would have been easier)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 4 cloves, roughly ground
- 1 can of chopped organic tomatoes
- 1 large pheasant, jointed
- 200ml white wine
- 1 jar of cooked chestnuts (Ronnie’s shop)
- salt and pepper to season
- In a large suacepan, heat half the olive oil and cook the panceta over a medium heat for five minutes
- Add the chopped shallots, carrot, garlic and bay leaves and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown nicely
- Add the cinnamon, thyme, paprika, cloves, stir for a little bit longer then add the tomatoes, turn the heat down low.
- While the tomatoes are simmering, in a large flat pan, heat the rest of the olive oil, season the pheasant joints and fry until brown on all sides.
- Add the legs/thighs and then the wine to the saucepan with the tomatoes, and simmer with the lid on for 45 minutes.
- Add the roughly chopped chestnuts along with the pheasant breast meat, and cook slowly for another 10 minutes, with the lid off.
- Check the seasoning, and allow to rest for around 10 minutes before serving
We had this with roast parsnips and mashed potatoes. And wine.
This is good with sausage and game stew.
- 1 large celeriac, approx 1 lb
- Equal weight of potatoes
- 150ml milk
- 50g butter
- Salt and pepper
- Peel and chop the celeriac, and boil until tender
- Meanwhile, peel and chop the potato, and boil in a separate pan until cooked
- Warm the milk, butter, salt and pepper until the butter has melted
- Purée the celeriac with the milk and butter
- Add the purée to the cooked potato and mash with a potato masher (don’t try to purée the potato)
I’ve seen similar recipes elsewhere, using cream or créme fraiche, which I am sure would be delicious as well.
We had poached pears with ice-cream and chocolate sauce tonight, inspiration from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries.
- 4 pears
- 2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
- a vanilla pod
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 200g dark chocolate
- Pour a litre of water into a large saucepan, add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile peel the pears, halve them and remove the cores with a teaspoon.
- Add the pears to the boiling syrup, and poach for 15 minutes
- Allow to cool in the syrup
- To serve, take 200ml of the syrup, and boil this with the chocolate.
- Serve the pears over the ice-cream with chocolate sauce poured over the top.