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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

4 dozen mussels, about 6 pints
4 shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled
butter
1 bottle dry white wine
chopped parsley
2 sprigs thyme, if available
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
butter
2 level tsp flour

Method

Place mussels in a large bowl and under running water. Scrape off mud, barnacles, seaweed and “beards” with a small sharp knife. Discard any that are open or even just loose (unless a tap on their shell makes them close) or are cracked. Rinse again until there is no trace of sand in the bowl.

Finely chop shallots. Melt a large knob of butter and sauté shallots until soft but not coloured.

Add wine, a small handful of chopped parsley, thyme, bay leaf and several turns from the pepper mill. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Add drained mussels, a handful at a time. Cover and steam, shaking often until shells open (about 5 minutes).

Remove top shells over saucepan to catch juices and place mussels in wide soup plates. Keep warm.

Strain liquor and reduce by half, thicken a little by adding a small knob of butter creamed with 2 level tsp flour, whisked in, in small pieces. Adjust seasoning. When cooked, pour over mussels.

Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Serve at once. Use forks for mussels, soup spoons for the juices. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.

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Good Housekeeping cookery cards, beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, 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 oz. butter
4 large eggs
salt and pepper
4 tbsp single cream
parsley for garnish
toast triangles

Method

Take four individual cocotte ovenproof dishes and put a knob of butter into the bottom of each.

Carefully break an egg into each dish, season with salt and freshly milled pepper.

Spoon 1 tbsp cream over each.

Bake in the oven at 350° F for 12-20 minutes until whites are just set.

Serve straight from the oven garnished with parsley. Partner with toast triangles and butter.

Variations:

First line each dish with lightly cooked bacon rashers, cut to size; or sprinkle eggs with grated Gruyère or Dutch cheese and cook until it is meltingly golden, then top with a dusting of paprika or finely chopped parsley.

From my complete set of Good Housekeeping wipe-clean recipe cards, another revolting 1970s recipe.

Ingredients

4-6 trout
2-3 oz. unsalted butter
1 oz. flaked almonds
2-3 teaspoonfuls lemon juice
parsley sprigs and lemon slices for garnish

Method

Ask fishmonger to clean the trout. Remove heads only if desired. Rub off any black film inside the cavity with a little salt. Brush fish with a little melted butter.

Heat grill and line the rack with buttered kitchen foil. Grill the trout for about two minutes on each side, then reduce heat and continue to cook until flesh shows signs of leaving the bone.

For the almond butter, melt 2 oz. butter, add 1 oz. flaked almonds. Fry gently until almonds begin to brown. Add 2-3 teaspoonfuls lemon juice and a little salt.

Serve trout on a hot dish, pour almond butter over. Garnish with parsley and twists of sliced lemon.

Recipe taken from Nigella Christmas by Queen of Gastroporn Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £25)

1 large or 2 small onions
100g streaky bacon
large bunch of parsley, from which you can get a good 2 handfuls of leaves
75g butter, plus more for greasing dish and extra 15g for buttering top (if not stuffing turkey)
250g vacuum-packed whole chestnuts
250g breadcrumbs
1 x 435g can unsweetened chestnut purée
2 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
good grating of fresh nutmeg

Peel and roughly chop the onion and stick the pieces in the processor with the bacon and parsley. Or chop finely by hand.

Melt the 75g butter in a largish, heavy-based pan and, keeping the heat fairly low, cook the processed mixture until it softens, about 10 minutes.

Remove to a bowl and, using your hands, crumble in the chestnuts so that they are broken up slightly, then mix in the breadcrumbs and chestnut purée. This isn’t very hard to do by hand (a wooden spoon and brutal manner will help), but an electric freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment is the agreeably lazy option.

If you are making this in advance, then let it get cold now, otherwise beat in the eggs, season with only a little salt (remember the bacon will contain some) and a good grating of fresh nutmeg and fresh pepper.

If you want to stuff the turkey with this on Christmas morning, be my guest; otherwise butter your dish or foil container, add the stuffing, spread the 15g butter on top, and bake, uncovered, in the oven underneath the turkey for 30-40 minutes, depending on how full your oven is.

(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.

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.

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