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Don’t let memories of school dinner pilchards put you off, Cornish sardines are one of England’s finest seafoods.

The sardine, or pilchard as it can be known in this country, is one of the humblest, yet to my mind finest, fish to be found around our shores. I am obsessed with its staggeringly delicious flavour. Simply grilled over charcoal, brushed with a little lemon juice and olive oil during cooking, and sprinkled with sea salt, it tastes sublime.

Served with garlic-rubbed grilled bread and a chunkily made rough tomato sauce redolent of garlic and rosemary, it captures the essence of cheap and sustainable seafood.

The problem with sardines is that they must be fresh; they need to be shining silver, with gleaming eyes, and ideally stiff as a board.

Ingredients

50ml olive oil
juice of 2 lemons, plus extra lemon wedges to serve
12 fat Cornish sardines, gutted, scaled and cleaned
1 small bunch of rosemary
4 thick slices of crusty bread
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
a handful of basil leaves, torn (optional)

For the tomato sauce:

100ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 red chilli
750g ripest cherry tomatoes
125ml dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Start with the tomato sauce. Warm the oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and leave to infuse on a low heat for 10 minutes. Prick the chilli several times with the tip of a knife to allow the flavour to escape. Add the tomatoes and chilli to the oil and cook over a low heat for 40 minutes. Add the wine and a sprinkling of salt and plenty of pepper. Turn the heat up slightly, then crush to a rough sauce using a potato masher and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Whilst the sauce is cooking, light your barbecue and wait until the flames have died down and the coals have gone grey, or preheat your grill to medium. Now for the sardines. Mix the oil and lemon juice together in a bowl. Place the sardines over the barbecue or under the grill. Brush with the oil and lemon mixture and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 4–5 minutes, then turn the fish and repeat until cooked through, brushing with the oil and lemon as you do so.

Just before you finish cooking, throw the rosemary on the coals to infuse the sardines with a final blast of flavour. Rub the bread with the garlic, brush with a little more oil and grill until crisp.

Serve the sardines on plates with the tomato sauce spooned over the toast, adding lemon wedges and torn basil leaves to finish if you wish.

Cockles are possibly our most modest and unassuming shellfish. For me, however, the humble cockle is among the sweetest and most delicious morsels to be found on Britain’s seashore. Cunningly hidden inches below the sand and mud, the cockle can typically be found in such beauty spots as Morecambe Bay in Lancashire and the Gower peninsula of South Wales, where they have been an essential source of food for millennia.

Ingredients

100g butter
1 leek, finely chopped
3 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100ml cup dry cider
150ml double (heavy) cream
1kg fresh cockles (baby clams), washed and prepared
500g mussels, washed and prepared
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat up a heavy saucepan or casserole over a medium heat and add the butter. When it foams, add the leek, shallots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the cider and cook for a further 3 minutes, then pour in the cream. Tip in the cockles and mussels, throw in the parsley, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, turn the heat up to high and cook with the lid on for 3 minutes.

Discard any shellfish that haven’t opened. Serve with chunks of white bread and mugs of cider.

Brighton

(The Manchester Guardian, 3 March 1956)

The president of Scarborough Hotels Association, Mr. Harry Lund, is annoyed with people who praise foreign holidays at the expense of holidays at home, and he is also annoyed with the Government. At the association’s annual meeting last night he said:

“We appear to have two implacable enemies – the garlic and olive oil gang of the press and radio, and the Government. By the garlic and olive oil gang I mean those writers, usually women, who happily accept on the Continent the sort of carpetless room with iron bedstead, flock mattress and early Victorian which they would raise all hell about over here. Imagine what they would say if instead of bacon and eggs and the incomparable meats and vegetables of England we were to give them starch-loaded Continental breakfasts and main meals consisting of dollops of spaghetti with a little tomato sauce. If they are willing to put up with that sort of thing over there it’s their own look-out. What we do object to is that they should then be given good space in journals and valuable time on the air in which to drool about how much better and cheaper foreign holidays are than our own.”

Another revolting 1970s recipe from my complete set of Good Housekeeping cookery cards; beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, they are designed to help you in two ways: to provide you with a repertoire of delicious recipes selected from Good Housekeeping magazine’s famous Creative Cookery series, and also to simplify the complex business of planning perfect menus. For Good Housekeeping cookery cards have an extra value – each one includes ideas for two more suitable courses to make up a complete three-course meal, linking the recipes to other cards in the series.

You don’t have to be an expert cook to produce these superb dishes. All recipes have been double-tested. All are clear and easy-to-follow. All include oven temperatures, cooking times, and number of servings.

Lard and tinned pineapple make this dish. If you can’t get lard and tinned pineapple, forget it.

Ingredients

1 lb. pork, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1½ oz. flour
2 oz. fresh white bread-crumbs
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk
1 oz. lard

For the sauce:
3 oz. sugar
4 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1½ level tbsp cornflour
½ pint water
1 green pepper, blanched and cut in thin strips
½ lb. tomatoes, skinned and quartered
11 oz. can crushed pineapple

Method

Mix together the pork, garlic, ½ oz. flour, bread-crumbs, salt, and pepper. Add the egg yolk and mix well.

Form into 24 balls, toss in remaining 1 oz. flour.

Heat lard in frying-pan. Add balls and fry gently for 20 minutes, turning frequently until golden.

Meanwhile, put sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a saucepan. Blend cornflour with the water and add to ingredients in pan.

Bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then add green pepper, tomatoes, and pineapple. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

To serve, pour pork balls into a warmed casserole dish and pour the sauce over.

Remember to keep your pork balls warm and get the sauce all over them. Use your fingers if necessary.

Another revolting 1970s recipe from my complete set of Good Housekeeping cookery cards; beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, they are designed to help you in two ways: to provide you with a repertoire of delicious recipes selected from Good Housekeeping magazine’s famous Creative Cookery series, and also to simplify the complex business of planning perfect menus. For Good Housekeeping cookery cards have an extra value – each one includes ideas for two more suitable courses to make up a complete three-course meal, linking the recipes to other cards in the series.

You don’t have to be an expert cook to produce these superb dishes. All recipes have been double-tested. All are clear and easy-to-follow. All include oven temperatures, cooking times, and number of servings.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ pint dry white wine
bouquet garni
clove of garlic, peeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. button mushrooms, de-stalked
½ lb. tomatoes
chopped parsley

Method

Sauté the chopped onion in the oil until soft but not coloured. Add wine, bouquet garni and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Wipe the mushrooms. Peel, halve and pip the tomatoes. Add to the onion mixture.

Cook gently, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool. Remove herbs and garlic, if wished add 2 more tbsp olive oil.

Serve chilled, sprinkled with chopped parsley.

How many tags can I attach to one post, a recipe for soup? A lot.

A rather elaborate recipe for people with a bit too much fucking time on their hands … which pretty much sums up the British Empire. Cheap tea and slavery.

Peeling and grating ginger … I mean, come on, who the hell wants to do that? Oh yeah, remember your ruler to measure 1cm of a cinnamon stick. Fucking hell. Now where is that coriander I always buy at Christmas when I go to Bury Market and Cheetham Hill Road which I only do once a year when there are no buses and ice on the pavement?

Merry Christmas!

Something a bit spicy is always welcome to cut through all that rich booze and food during the Christmas festivities and making a mulligatawny soup would be ideal. No two mulligatawny recipes are the same, however – as the recipe would have been brought over from colonial India and it all depended on whatever leftovers you had to hand. This soup is not an excuse to just bung all your Christmas Day roast leftovers in a pot with a bit of curry powder, cross your fingers and hope for the best …

For the soup:

1 tbsp ghee or butter
1 onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
a small piece of root ginger, peeled and grated (save peelings for stock)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1cm of a cinnamon stick
a handful of curry leaves
a pinch of saffron strands
the black seeds from 10 cardamom pods
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
2-3l stock from the carcass
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rough cm dice
60g yellow lentils (dhal)
150g cooked chickpeas (optional)
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into rough cm dice
1 large potato, peeled and cut into rough cm cubes
4 tbsp coconut milk
the meat from the carcass and legs of your turkey or goose
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander

For the stock:

the carcass from the turkey or goose, preferably with some meat on
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
8 cloves of garlic, halved
the peelings from the root ginger
20 black peppercorns
2l chicken stock

First, make the stock: put all of the ingredients in a saucepan, add the chicken stock and top up, just covering the bones with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour, skimming every so often; then strain through a sieve and when the bones are cool enough to handle, remove all the meat you can and put to one side and discard the bones and vegetables.

To make the soup, melt the ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic, ginger and all of the curry spices for about 5 minutes without colouring and stirring every so often. Stir in the flour and tomato purée then gradually whisk in the stock. Bring to the boil then add the carrot and lentils, season and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the lentils are beginning to get soft. Add the chickpeas (if using), parsnip and potato and continue simmering until the potato and parsnip are cooked. Add the coconut milk, meat and coriander, simmer for a couple of minutes and re-season.

(Taken from Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson)

So soothing is the process, so welcoming and enveloping the savoury smells emanating from stove and oven as this risotto cooks, so ambrosial the taste, so universally rewarding the experience, that the labour involved can be embraced gladly. If you don’t appreciate this, then you don’t deserve it.

This is really a meat sauce risotto, but that makes it sound too sloppy, too unspecial. This is no run-of-the-mill meat sauce, not least because it contains veal stock. (I buy jars of good-quality veal stock to have on standby.) And if it seems unorthodox to be cooking the meat sauce in the oven, I agree, it is. You can ignore me, and just cook everything on the hob. But putting the pot in the oven and leaving it there to cook is hardly what football managers would call a Big Ask. Besides, the method is vastly superior: flavour is intensified, texture is more melting and tender. If I have the time, this is now my ragù route of choice.

The meat sauce here, that ragù which for us is always bolognese, is runnier than you would make if this were dressing pasta, and pointedly so: it is all these meaty juices with which the rice will become so delectably swollen later.

A final note: I have marked the anchovies ‘optional’ simply because I know that some people have a thing about them, although as a general rule, I would advise you to pay no heed to such faddiness, not least because good anchovies just melt into the sauce, bringing their salty resonance with them. However, if you are feeding children with laser detectors in place of palates and who cannot cope with fish of any sort, give up now.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 stick celery, halved
1 small clove garlic, peeled
handful fresh parsley
75g rindless streaky bacon
4 anchovy fillets (optional)
50g unsalted butter, plus 1 x 15ml tablespoon (15g)
½ teaspoon regular olive oil
250g minced beef, preferably organic
80ml marsala
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 15ml tablespoon tomato purée
2 x 15ml tablespoons full-fat milk
2 litres veal stock (500ml plus 1.5 litres), preferably organic
2 bay leaves
500g risotto rice
6 x 15ml tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovy into a processor and whiz to a fine mush. Heat the 50g butter and ½ teaspoon oil in a deep, heavy ovenproof casserole with a lid. Tip in the contents of the processor and cook for about 5 minutes until softened.

Add the meat and let it brown a little, breaking it up in the pan, then add the marsala.
Process the tomatoes until smooth, and add to the meat.

Stir the tomato purée into the milk and then add this mixture to the pan, along with 500ml veal stock and the bay leaves.

Bring to the boil on the hob, then clamp on the lid and transfer the casserole to the oven for 1 hour.

Once the meat sauce is out of the oven, fish out the bay leaves. Heat the remaining 1.5 litres veal stock in another saucepan and keep that warm over a very low heat, then put the meat sauce on a low heat next to it.

Stir the rice into the meat sauce, and then add a ladleful of the hot stock. Stir until the rice and sauce become thick again and then add another hot ladleful of stock.

Continue to add the stock as needed, though only a small ladleful at a time, stirring all the time as you go. Check to see if the rice is cooked after about 18 minutes – you may not need all the stock before this happens.

When it’s ready, turn off the heat and stir or beat in, with your wooden spoon, the cheese and the extra tablespoon of butter before seasoning to taste and doling out into shallow warmed bowls. Serve with extra parmesan, if you like.

(Taken from “The new vegetarian” in the Guardian)

The seeds sprinkled over this salad at the end give it a real boost in look, texture and flavour. I’d be tempted to make more of the mix than you need, and keep it in a jar ready for your next creation that’s missing a crunch.

12 quail’s eggs
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
15g picked dill
15g picked basil leaves, torn
15g picked coriander leaves
30g watercress
50g ricotta

1½ tbsp flaked almonds
1½ tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
⅓ tsp nigella seeds
inch flaked chilli
¼ tsp Maldon sea salt
¼ tsp olive oil

Start with the seeds. Put all the ingredients in a small pan and cook over medium heat for three minutes, stirring all the time, until the sesame seeds take on some colour. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Put the quail’s eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 seconds for semi-soft (as I prefer them) or two minutes for hard-boiled. Refresh in cold water, then peel.

To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Now assemble the salad. In a big bowl, gently toss together the herbs and watercress, and divide about half of the leaves between four small serving plates. Cut the peeled quail’s eggs in half and place three halves on each plate. Use a teaspoon to deposit tiny dollops of ricotta around and about the salad, then dribble the dressing on top. Pile the remaining leaves over each portion, giving the dish as much height as possible, then carefully dot each portion with three more egg halves and the rest of the ricotta. Drizzle a tiny amount of extra oil over each serving, sprinkle the seeds on top and serve at once.

Blog Directory

A revolting recipe from the 1970s, courtesy of Good Housekeeping.

Please post a comment if you know where to get hold of a pig’s liver.

Ingredients

1 lb. pig’s liver
2 oz. butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
¼ lb. streaky bacon, rinded and diced
¼ lb. belly pork, diced
1 clove garlic
1½ tbsp concentrated tomato paste
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ tsp basil
¼ tsp salt
4 tbsp dry red wine
grated rind of ½ lemon
1 bay leaf
lettuce, cucumber and tomato for garnish

Method

Remove skin and any gristle from the liver. Melt butter and fry onion. Add remainder of ingredients.

Cook slowly for about 1½ hours. Remove bay leaf and drain meat. Retain liquor.

Mince meat finely, stir in liquor. Press into a 1½ pint dish. Cover with foil.

Cook in the oven at 350° F. for 30 minutes. Leave in a cold place.

To serve, turn out and garnish with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Top Tip

Make sure you are completely pissed.



Arts

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

Follow radstainforth on Twitter
i published work on theblogpaper

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