Bookshelf Travelling – 14th December

Cookery Books

Here I am Bookshelf Travelling again, it’s the shelf above last week’s travelling and it is home to some of my cookery books. On the left hand side there are two copies of the same book –

Cookery in Colour by Marguerite Patten This is the first gift that Jack gave me – he denies this however! Well I suppose he might have bought me some chocolates before buying the book. It did make me think that he was serious enough about me to want to make sure that I could cook and therefore feed him! I bought another pristine copy of the book at a church sale some years ago as my copy has come adrift from its cover and spine, despite being used very carefully. My dad took the book to work and made a plastic cover for it to protect it, so he must have seen something important about it in the family history in the future, if you see what I mean, sadly he died a few years after we got married. The book is very much of its time but I still use quite a lot of the recipes in it. Marguerite Patten was very well known and came to the fore in Britain during the war years when she concocted recipes to help women feed their families while struggling with a lack of ingredients due to the strict rationing. She died just a few years ago.

The Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten was first published in 2002 in association with the Imperial War Museum. It’s subtitled Nostalgic Food and Facts from 1940-1954. Food rationing lasted 14 years in the UK and didn’t end until the 4th of July 1954. Actually it was a bit of a rebellion from women that made the government of the day realise that they were pushing their luck, having rationing long after it had ended in mainland Europe. Marguerite Patten said that the recipes in this book show how difficult it is to cook without butter or margaine. I’ve tried a few of the recipes, such as Woolton Pie and it was quite tasty.

There are a few gardening books on this shelf. Beth Chatto’s Garden Notebook is a book that I’ve just realised I haven’t read although I have read other books by her. For a few years we lived near her famous garden and nursery in Essex, just as she was constructing it all so I did see some of the work going on, before we gave up on Essex and moved back to Scotland. I really have to get around to reading this one.

There are some travel books on the shelf and A Book of Scotland by G.R. Harvey dates from 1950. It’s the sort of book that is ideal for dipping into when you are at a loose end. It’s another one that I haven’t read from cover to cover. It’s published by A&C Black. It has a mixture of black and white and colour plates. It’s older than me and is in better condition!

Are you Bookshelf Travelling this week?

Staircase Wit

Foodie Friday – Cheese souffle

I was only about 16 or 17 when I first made cheese souffle and I didn’t realise that souffles were regarded as ‘difficult’ and often avoided by experienced cooks. Luckily my first cheese souffle turned out well using this recipe.

Cheese souffle

3 eggs
25 g or 1 oz of butter
15g or half oz flour
142 ml or 1/4 pint milk
75 g or 3 oz grated cheese
seasoning, including dry mustard

Separate the eggs. Melt the butter and stir in the flour, gradually add the milk and bring to the boil, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly, add cheese seasoning and egg yolks one by one, beating well. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites and put into a greased oven proof dish or souffle dish. Cook in the centre of a moderately hot oven, 400 F / 200 C / Gas Mark 6 for about 20 minutes, till well risen and brown. Serve at once.

I use ordinary cheddar cheese for this recipe and I only use mustard as a seasoning, about a teaspoonful. I think there is enough salt in the cheese already. Accompany it with a salad.

This is based on a Marguerite Patten recipe.

Foodie Friday – Oatmeal Biscuits

I like baking things with oatmeal in them because I can ‘kid on’ to myself that they are really quite healthy, but if you look at the amount of sweet stuff in the ingredients list you will realise that I am of course deluding myself. Och well, THEY do say that porridge oats bring your cholesterol down so these biscuits are maybe not too bad for you! Yes it does look like a cake, it’s a sort of inbetweeny texture, perfect if you don’t want anything too hard against your teeth!

oatcake biscuits

100g/ 4 oz of flour/ 1 cup (with plain flour add 1 level tsp of baking powder)
half a level teaspoon of salt
100g/ 4 oz/ 1.5 cups oatmeal or porridge oats
50g/ 2 oz/ a third of a cup of sugar
75g/ 3 oz black treacle (molasses)
100g/ 4 oz / 1 stick of butter or margarine
oatmeal to sprinkle on top

Put the flour, baking powder if used and salt together into a bowl. Stir in the oatmeal. Put the sugar, black treacle and butter or margarine into a saucepan and heat gently until just melted. Cool slightly and then add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture into a round cake tin, I lined mine with greaseproof paper, but you could just grease the tin. Sprinkle the surface with some oatmeal. Bake in the centre of the oven at 350 F / 180 C or Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly, cut into wedges, then lift out carefully and complete cooling on a wire tray.

This is a recipe which you can play around with a lot, if you aren’t too keen on the flavour of black treacle then you could substitute golden syrup, which I think is called corn syrup in the US. You could also add some spices like ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg, or add some dried fruit. In future I don’t think I’ll bother to sprinkle the oatmeal on top. I also think that the next time I try this recipe I’ll leave out the 2 oz of sugar as although this is tasty I found it to be very sweet.

The easiest way to measure the treacle is of course to put the tin on your scales and take spoonfuls out of it until the weight has gone down by the required amount, 3 ounces in this case. You’re best to err on the side of underbaking I think as if you overbake it will be really hard, definitely best with custard poured over it to soften it! This batch is quite soft, almost cakey in texture, certainly not crunchy, which with my teeth is a bonus!

I had intended having a Foodie Friday last week and baked shortbread for the blogpost. I’ve made plenty of shortbread in my days, but I was given a new shortbread mould as a Christmas present, one of those pottery ones with a lovely thistle design on it, but the shortbread just refused to come out of it, despite the fact that I did as instructed and dusted it with icing/powdered sugar. Obviously I didn’t put enough sugar into it so I’ll have to have another go at that soon.

Foodie Friday – Pineapple Upside down Cake

It’s Friday so I’m having a Foodie Friday post. On New Year’s Day we had our ‘boys’ and their ladies visiting us and it was yet another marathon cooking day for me. Duncan, our eldest boy is dairy intolerant so I decided to bake a pineapple upside down cake for pudding. It’s always tasty, especially when eaten hot, and I think it looks quite good too.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I used margarine instead of butter and I don’t think it makes any difference to the flavour, but I always add some vanilla extract to a plain cake mix to make sure that there will be no eggy flavour to it.

Cooking time 1 hour
Oven temperature 350 F/ Gas Mark 4/ 180 C
Cake tin – 9 inches diameter and two inches deep

Base of cake:
1 – 435g tin of pineapple rings –
glace cherries
2 oz butter of margarine
2 oz brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey or golden syrup (I think that’s corn syrup in the US)

For the cake:

5 oz butter of margarine
5 oz sugar
3 eggs
drop of vanilla extract (optional)
6 oz self raising flour

Melt the 2 oz of margarine for the base and pour it into the cake tin. Top with the brown sugar and golden syrup/honey. Arrange the drained pineapple rings onto this mixture. Add the cherries to make a nice pattern.

For the cake:
Cream the margarine and sugar, gradually beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract. then fold in the flour. Spread this mixture over the fruit and level it. You might get some of the syrup coming up to the edge but don’t worry about that.

Bake in the oven for one hour and test to see if it’s done. It might take a bit longer as every oven is different.

Put a large plate over the cake and turn it upside down, the cake should come out with no problem. This is delicious hot, I love hot fruit and it is even better with cream or ice cream, if you aren’t dairy intolerant!

This recipe is based on one from Marguerite Patten’s Every Day Cook Book, first published in 1968. I like her recipes as she didn’t use loads of different ingredients and they were all store cupboard staples, so no need to do any special shopping for fancy stuff, which you often have to do with more modern recipes.

I had one pineapple ring left over from the tin, which I couldn’t manage to fit into the cake base. I haven’t tried any other types of fruit but obviously you could try tinned apricots, peaches or whatever you fancy.

Millions Like Us by Virginia Nicholson

Millions Like Us cover

Millions Like Us by Virginia Nicholson is subtitled Women’s Lives During the Second World War. I read about this book on someone’s blog, one which I regularly visit, but sadly I can’t remember which one. Anyway I thought that after reading two books recently which were mainly about men in the war, I thought this would be a nice change, it was more than that, it was really interesting. This book was first published in 2011, just in time really as by then an awful lot of women who were active during the war were already dead. The wartime home economist Marguerite Patten features in the book and of course, she died recently. The Scottish writer Naomi Mitchison also features in it, another one no longer with us.

Inevitably a book like this has culled material from various other books on the subject, so some of Nella Last’s diary extracts appear too. It’s about every aspect of women’s lives at the time, from having to take in refugees from Belgium and Holland, or children from London. Choosing which service to join if you were unmarried, apparently thousands applied to join the Wrens (Navy) because the uniform was much more flattering than the others, and the hat was very fetching!

Those who ended up working in factories often had to put up with men who were resentful that the women were there, so they played tricks on them all the time, or the boss seemed to think that putting up with being groped by him was in the job description.

All in all it was a tough time for women, some of them might have enjoyed the friendship of their colleagues, especially if they had lived very narrow lives until then, but others were obviously happy to marry just about any chap to get pregnant and escape back to civilian life.

As you would expect, it seems that the strict moral code which most middle and working class women adhered to went out the window when you didn’t know whether you would wake up in the morning or you would be killed by a bomb.

At the end of the war, when the men eventually began to trickle home again, it wasn’t all milk and honey, with the husbands being keen to get back to the way things had been before, with them being head of the house. Seemingly they had no idea that the women had had things so tough. In some ways it was easier for those who were off in the services, they had their food put down to them and didn’t have to worry about clothing coupons as they were in uniform. It must have been quite a shock to see how much work went into just trying to get enough food when they got back to civvy street.

The book mentions that one woman in the ATS put on 2 stones in weight during the war, because they were being fed stodge I suppose, and I’ve seen it mentioned elsewhere that you could tell the women who had been in the forces because they all looked bloated. I had already noticed that from photos I had been shown by women I’ve known over the years.

There’s a small bit in the book about women who had been conscientious objectors, apparently they were given a tougher time than their male counterparts. As the women would never have to kill anyone it seems that they were seen as just trying to dodge doing anything at all. The one man that I knew who was a ‘conshy’ during the war actually had a really awful time of it as he accepted work as an ambulance driver in London, which meant that a lot of his time was spent in gathering up body parts and taking them to a hospital mortuary. There were women doing the same thing, really it’s a wonder they didn’t all go mad.

Peacetime brought divorce for a lot of couples who had married in haste, hardly knowing each other at all, and never really expecting to survive the war. For the GI brides things were even more precarious. Think of leaving your own family behind to be with someone you hardly know in a strange country. Not being able to run home when your husband started beating you up is a distinct disadvantage. No doubt some of the marriages were successful, but I remember my mother telling me that she knew a few girls who had been GI brides and went off to the US – all starry eyed, no doubt thinking of Hollywood, but when they got there they discovered that their husband’s home town was way out in the sticks, a sort of one horse town and definitely stuck in the past as far as the brides were concerned. What a disappointment!

Back to the book, it was a time of huge social upheaval obviously and working class women and ‘toffs’ were thrown together as they had never been before, an education for all concerned no doubt. I haven’t mentioned the make-up, apparently it was thought that women should wear make up, as a moral booster for everyone. I rarely use the stuff but I do admire that generation of women who had so much pride that they never opened their front door if they didn’t have their lipstick on (my mother) – but I hadn’t realised it was encouraged by the government!

This book used diaries, autobiographies, memoirs and interviews with the few who are still around. A very good read.

Marguerite Patten 1915- 2015

I wasn’t exactly surprised to hear on the news tonight that Marguerite Patten had died, after all she was 99 years old, but it’s still a shame that she didn’t reach 100 and get a card from the Queen. Mind you she was given an OBE and eventually a CBE for services to the Art of Cookery.

She was called one of the first celebrity chefs but she was unhappy with that description, she insisted she was a home economist, in that she was just like Mary Berry who is also happier describing herself as a home cook.

Cookery in Colour cover

I must admit that Marguerite has always had a comfy wee place in my heart as it was when Jack bought me a copy of her book Cookery in Colour that I realised that he was really keen on me. Until then the height of my culinary skills was those Vesta dinners which came in a cardboard box, freeze dried, just add water! Remember them, back in the early 1970s those seemed the height of exoticism.

Jack obviously wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going to starve if he and I ended up getting married. I fact, maybe he was testing me out and if I didn’t manage to come up with some decent meals from the book, I might have been ditched. Since then I’ve bought her Every Day Cook Book and Victory Cook Book, which contains the wartime recipes which she devised to cope with rationing.

I think though that just about anybody would succeed with Marguerite’s recipes, she kept the list of ingredients short and you probably already had a lot of the things in your store cupboard, unlike the more modern so-called celebrity chefs who seem to think that they have to find the most obscure and weird things to put into their dishes. I blame those Michelin stars.

You can see some images of Marguerite Patten – old and new here.

Chilli Chocolate Cookies

I actually started to make Walnut Crisps from a Marguerite Patten recipe and then it dawned on me that that very awkward man that I’m married to doesn’t like walnuts. He does like pecans which to me are very similar, anyway that’s men for you! So I thought I would just omit the walnuts and add more chocolate. Then I discovered that the only chocolate which I had in my pantry was Galaxy Caramel and Turkish Delight filled chocolate, and chilli flavoured chocolate. So although I thought it might taste a bit weird in biscuits I decided to have a bash with the chilli chocolate anyway. And here they are. They tasted really nice, chocolate with a distinct afterkick of chilli.

Chilli Chocolate Biscuits

Chocolate Chilli Cookies

Cooking time 15 minutes.
Oven temp. 375F, 190C, Gas Mark 4-5

4oz self-raising flour
4 oz brown sugar
1 1/2 oz margarine
3oz plain or chilli chocolate
1 egg

Put the flour into a bowl and add the sugar and soft margarine. Give it a good mix with a wooden spoon. Cut the chocolate into small pieces and add to the mixture. Then mix in the beaten egg. By then you should have quite a stiff dough.

Spoon into rough heaps on a greased baking tray, allowing room to spread. Bake for about 15 minutes in the middle of the oven. Allow to cool slightly on the tray before placing onto a wire cooling tray.


Nutters – please be aware that this recipe contains nuts!

Back in the dim distant past when Kylie was in Neighbours and I saw it because it was on just before the evening news, the folks in the cafe always seemed to be scoffing Madge’s Lamingtons. I always wondered what on earth they were, never having heard of them before. Some sort of Australian delicacy I supposed. In fact, because of the strong Australian accents I thought it was something to do with lemons!

But I bought an old copy of Marguerite Patten’s Every Day Cook Book recently, I only had her All Colour Cookery book, my husband’s first present to me!! – and – jings, crivens and help ma Boab – there’s a recipe for Lamingtons in it, so I just had to try it out, they’re very tasty and here they are.

5 oz butter or marg.
7 oz sugar
3 eggs
10 oz self-raising flour
4 tablespoons milk

For the filling:
raspberry jam

To coat:
7 oz icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons boiling water

To decorate:
6 oz dessicated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs gradually. Mix in the flour alternately with the milk. Spread the mixture into a greased 8-inch square cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes at Gas mark 4/350-375 F.

Leave it to cool on a wire rack and then split it through the middle and spread the raspberry jam on the bottom layer. Sandwich the layers together, then cut the cake into 2 inch squares, you should be able to get 16 pieces.

Put the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and add the boiling water slowly. Mix to a smooth paste adding more water if it is too thick. To stop the icing from setting too quickly place the bowl over a pan of hot water.

One by one dip the squares into the icing letting any excess drip off before tossing them in the dessicated coconut. Allow to set before scoffing.

The recipe says you should put the squares on a fork or a skewer before dipping in the icing but I couldn’t get them to stay on so I ended up getting my fingers very messy! Finger sucking good though. (Be careful how you say that!)

For a richer flavour you might like to add a few drops of vanilla extract to the sponge mixture.

BTW it’s a very good cookery book.

Toffee Cake

This is the cake which I baked for Gordon’s birthday and it’s based on a Marguerite Patten recipe. It was a nice change from a completely chocolate cake. Although the ingredients specify using castor sugar I usually just use normal white sugar. The brown sugar can be any kind from Demerara to dark soft brown sugar depending on how strong you want the toffee flavour to be.

6 oz brown sugar
5 oz butter or marg.
4 tablespoons milk
2 oz castor sugar
2 eggs
8 oz self-raising flour

Put the brown sugar, 1 oz butter and 4 tablespoons of milk into a heavy based pan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then allow the mixture to reach the ‘soft ball’ stage.

Cream the remaining butter and sugar together until it’s soft and light then beat in the warm toffee syrup gradually to stop the mixture from curdling. If it does curdle just add some flour.

Beat in the eggs and then the rest of the flour.

Put the cake mixture into an 8 inch cake tin which has been well greased.

Bake for about 50 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 170 C, Gas mark 3 or 325-350 F. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge of the cake tin, the cake should come out quite easily. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

This cake tastes lovely on its own but I decided to cover it with my own version of buttercream icing. This is quick and easy, no faffing about with butter and cocoa powder required.

Nutella Topping
Place about 3 heaped tablespoons of Nutella into a glass bowl with a sploosh of milk, about a quarter of a cupful, and microwave for about 30 seconds on medium or until the Nutella mixture has melted. It depends on the strength of your microwave.

Stir the mixture until the milk is well incorporated then add about 4 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar into it. Be sure to sift the icing sugar first otherwise the icing will be lumpy.

Mix well and quickly spread it over the cake and down the sides if wished. It sets fairly fast so I couldn’t get the top of my cake as smooth as I wanted and I ended up taking a rolling pin to a bar of Aero to disguise the top. No disaster. Chocolate on top of chocolate isn’t exactly a problem.

We were half way to Stirling before I realised that I had left the birthday candles behind. So we had to improvise with a tealight. Well, he could still make a wish, which is the main thing.