Saturday, 6 November 2010

In Praise of Home Cooking

I blew the dust off this recipe book this week, as I have decided to widen my repertoire and not just cook my usual familiar recipes all the time. I was glad I did as I found a cake recipe which is going to be "a keeper" and I intend to copy straight into my hand-written notebook of family favourites as it tastes SO good. I seem to remember Dorothy Sleightholme being involved with the tv series which this book accompanied. She was a very down-to-earth Yorkshirewoman, and cooked the sort of things I liked to make. Does anyone else remember her?

The recipe for the Somerset Apple cake (above) called for mixed peel, but I had run out, so I decided to use chopped crystalized ginger instead, which proved to be an act of sheer genius as far as flavour was concerned, as it went perfectly with the orange zest which was also part of the recipe. The flavours are DIVINE!


75g/3 oz butter
175g/6 oz caster sugar (I used just 4 oz and it was plenty sweet enough)
1 orange rind, washed and grated
225g/8oz Self Raising flour
450g/1 lb Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cubed
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
25g/1 oz candied peel, chopped (I used chopped preserved stem ginger instead)
About 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Grease and flour a 23cm/9" cake tin. cream butter, sugar and orange rind, and beat until light and creamy. Mix 1 tablespoon of the flour with apples in a dish. Put eggs and milk in a bowl with the creamed butter mix. Add remaining flour, peel and apples to the creamed mixture and blend well with a metal spoon. Turn into prepared tin, and sprinkle with granulated sugar (I omitted the extra sugar). Bake in a moderate oven - Gas 4, 350 deg. F, 180 deg. C, for 40 - 50 mins until golden brown.

Serve cold as a cake or hot as a pudding with cream. It is SCRUMMY either way!

This is a standard white loaf of bread but, suitably inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's bread-making this week, I tried his wetter mix and really stretched the dough when I was kneading it. For the past 30 years I have been making bread the way I was shown at a demonstration at Eling Tide Mill in Southampton. As you can see, this produced a really crusty loaf which I was actually able to slash properly before it went in the oven. I will try again tomorrow using Hugh's recipe, which is slightly different to my normal one.

These are Bacon and Cheese pasties, a frugal recipe from Elizabeth West's "Kitchen in the Hills" which followed her excellent and inspiring "Hovel in the Hills". I shall definitely be making these again too.


4 oz (120g) boiled (or lightly fried) bacon, chopped
2 oz (60g) cheese, grated
6 oz (180g) onions, grated (I omitted these as only I love onions)
4 oz (120g) boiled potatoes, mashed - I boiled and cubed mine
1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs
a little milk
plain pastry using 3 oz (90g) fat and 8 oz (240g) flour

Divide pastry into two and roll each piece into a circle (I cut mine out around a side plate and made 3 plus a runt). Mix together all other ingredients except milk. Put half of the mixture n each pastry round. Draw up opposite sides of pastry, moisten edges and press together, fluting with the fingers. brush with milk, prick both sides with a fork and bake in a moderate oven until brown - 20 to 30 mins.

I have never tried making Naan Bread before but as you can see, these turned out really well and I shall make my own in future as they cooked in less than 5 minutes.


225g (8 oz) unbleached white bread flour
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp salt
15g/ 1/2 oz fresh yeast
60ml (4 tblspn lukewarm milk
15ml/ 1 tblspn vegetable oil
30ml/ 2 tblspn natural yogurt
1 egg
30-45ml/ 2-3 tblspn melted ghee or butter, for brushing (oops, I forgot this!)

Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, cream the yeast with the milk. Set aside for 15 mins. Add the yeast mixture, oil, yogurt and egg to the flour and mix to a soft dough.

Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly-oiled bowl and leave to rise, in a warm place, for 45 mins or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to its highest setting - at least 230 deg. C/450 deg F/Gas 8. Place three heavy baking sheets in the oven to heat. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back. Divide into 3 equal pieces and shape into balls.

Cover two of the balls of dough with oiled cling film and roll out the third into a teardrop shape about 25cm/10 inches long x 13cm/5 in wide and with a thickness of about 5mm/ 1/4 inch. Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Meanwhile place the naan on the hot baking sheets and bake for 3-4 mins, or until puffed up.

Remove the naan from the oven and place under the hot grill for a few seconds or until the top of the naan browns slightly. Wrap the cooked naan in a dish towel to keep warm while rolling and cooking the remaining naan. Brush with melted ghee or butter and serve warm.

Home made soup never disappoints. This is a Golden Vegetable with lentils and bacon. I buy the packs of Bacon Mis-shapes (also known as Bacon Misfits in this household) and you usually get a mixture of thinly-sliced bacon and also big chunks of cooking bacon or gammon. The latest pack had a big chunk of cooking bacon, so I boiled it up and used half of it chopped up in the soup and half in the pasties. Both meals cost just pennies per head to make.

Recipe was roughly (it was a bung-it);

one onion, chopped
double handful red lentils
about 6 oz of pre-frozen stew pack which included leeks, carrots, parnsip and swede but justt use what you have available
2 smallish potatoes, peeled and chopped
a pint or so of vegetable stock
about 4 oz of pre-cooked cooking bacon, chopped

Fry off onion in a little oil and add the bacon, stock, lentils and vegetables, bring to boil, season, and then simmer until vegetables are cooked.

This is a slightly different take on apple crumble, which I have added some dark cherries and berries to from the freezer. I bought several packs of frozen berries when they were on offer at the supermarket this summer, but the last pack is nearly empty too, so I made up the quantities with some home-grown blackcurrants sprinkled over the top of the stewed apple.


  1. One of my favourite books. Looking at all that food has made me very hungry!


  2. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    What time is supper.....
    I'll try to catch the next flight.
    Have a yummy weekend

  3. I think you and I bake in similar ways--not afraid to make a substitution to use what is on hand.
    I am reminded of an apple cake recipe which I used to make for church dinners--wonder if I still have it. With only two of us [J. balks if something is served more than the second time around] I'm trying to revise my cooking habits quantity-wise, but soup just has to be made in something resembling a vat!
    I started bread yesterday [while putting up pickled beets] discovered no more whole wheat flour, so we have 4 loaves of a rather gorgeous unbleached white flour bread. I have always wanted to try pasties--I think I could use my standard piecrust recipe for the pastry.

  4. I used to have that book ...not sure where it went when I moved ...great down to earth food. Loved your recipes ...those pasties look yummy. As for crumbles ..anything goes ... I used bananas alot ...a fav was raspberry and banana ...followed by apple banana sultana with cinamon making a strudely flavour ....good for pies too ...used to call it Cutey Fruity filling to fool the

  5. WOW! You were so ambitious and energetic! Well-done! It all looks so good! We have made Naan bread before as my daughter has spent time in India. You have posted some of my favourite comfort foods! I made an apple crisp tonight as we are having company tomorrow.
    Thank you for all those yummy recipes!
    For some reason this post made me think of Susan Hill's book:
    A Magic Apple Tree.
    Have you read it?

  6. Joanne - Yes, I have A Magic Apple Tree and it's one of my favourite books. Susan Hill writes so beautifully.

    Angie - raspberry and banana sounds fun, and the Tropical Strudel-type mix too.

    MM - Tam's J didn't eat "leftovers" until they got together, but she has re-educated him. I have to say, after the third day of something I have made, the novelty wanes a bit!

    denimflyz - glad I whetted your appetite. Now we have autumn with its toes firmly under the table, rib-stickers like these are welcome.

    pattypan - lovely to see you again. Sounds like you had a nice holiday up in Scotland.

  7. I remember Dorothy Sleightholme - for some reason in my mind she's always washing her hands!

  8. Lots of lovely baking, I had Elizabeth West's books as well,they worked in big houses for a short time in the year as a housekeeper/gardener, then holing up for the winter with all that food they had grown in their isolated Welsh cottage, I often wondered what happened to them.

  9. Now those recipes look interesting and simple enough for me to make. I love making soups that recipe looks tasty. Have you tried making bacon and cheese bread? I've used bacon misshapes for that too.

    I used to watch Farmhouse kitchen with my Mum and bought her lots of these books for christmas's when I was little.

  10. Mmm, I remember Dorothy Sleightholme too, she was so comfortable and practical, wasn't she. I have the same book and must get it out again. Like the sound of the Elizabeth West books, which I haven't seen - my kind of cookery book, I think.

  11. My kind of cookery too. I have almost more apples than I can cope with after another gift from a kind neighbour, as well as the last Bramleys from our trees, so I`m going to try this apple cake in the next day or so. There is enough for chutney as well as yet another crumble ( I might try adding banana - thanks Angie). We have a real apple glut this year, but no one is grumbling!

  12. Good golly, I'm hungry now after that lot :D

    I'm going to try those recipes and your Naan bread looks amazing. This is why we need to live closer to each other, so that you can feed me, haha!