I love love love old recipe books. I love the smell of them, the crazy hand drawn pictures, the mental names of the dishes. It all adds up to inspiration for me when planning our meals for the week. So often when I look through my books I find the recipes in modern books are a bit too complicated for a weeknight meal. The older books often use the most basic of ingredients, many of which you might already have in your pantry. I have found the best tasting & easiest recipes in these books & I want to share the love.
The best places to find these books for me have been charity shops. You can normally grab something for a few dollars and you will like at least a few of the recipes. I also find that often you can take off the tatty paper cover (with a picture of a casserole garnished with a kilo of parsley) and uncover a lovely old hardcover book that looks quite snazzy on the shelf next to your Jamie Oliver selection. The other option is to raid the houses of your friends and family - my mother in law’s house was a gold mine on our last trip to England – thanks Julia!
Here are my top 5 favourite crazy names for meals within my latest find, the Farmhouse Kitchen. This book was first published in England in 1975 and purchased by me for one pound at Oxfam in Brighton:
1 Jugged Hare: bacon, celery, hare, herbs and butter. Oh yes, don’t forget the blood of the hare too
2 Cullen Skink Soup: a soup made with smoked haddock, mashed potato, onion, milk, & butter
3 Lardy Cake: I think the name refers more to the person who eats too many of them
4 Turban of Cod: baked cod with egg sauce. Mmmmm
5 Love in Disguise: vermicelli, bacon, egg, parsley and…sheep’s hearts. That’s love alright.
Now for a recipe that you might actually want to cook:
Lamb Curry – for all these years I thought you needed curry paste to make a curry. Nope! I usually make this on a Sunday night and then we have for dinner a few days later, still tastes great.
500g diced lamb (beef would be nice too)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp minced ginger (or fresh if you have it)
1 tbsp chilli
1 tbsp lemon juice (I use lemon squeeze if I don’t have a fresh one)
2 tsp garam masala (this is a mixed spice you can get in the spice jar section)
400g tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 cup of beef stock
1. Heat the oil in a large frypan and soften the onion for a few minutes.
2. Add the lamb, garam masala, ginger and a squeeze of lemon.
3. When the lamb is browned, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chilli and stock.
4. Simmer uncovered for 90 mins until the sauce has thickened up.
5. Serve with fresh rice, and add a dollop of natural yoghurt on top. Yum!