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Sunshine In Winter With Delia Smith’s Summer Collection

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I am so excited with my latest purchase. This afternoon I bought a copy of Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and it brought back so many memories. This cook book accompanied the 1993 BBC series which used to be broadcast once a week on a week night which I used to watch when I should have been doing my homework!

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia's Summer Collection

A terrine of summer fruits from Delia’s Summer Collection

 

I’ve pretty much grown up with Delia; it’s no secret that my mum was a huge fan of TV cookery shows – she still is – so I got my liking for such shows from her. And Delia Smith was probably the first TV cook I watched in the early 1980s and her career started long before I was even born. I’ve watched all of her TV series as I was growing up which I’m sure contributed to my interest in food, cooking and trying new culinary delights. And I have to say it – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Delia Smith’s Christmas.

The great lady herself!

The great lady herself!

 

Delia is most definitely on a different plane when compared to today’s TV chefs. Not that I’m saying anyone’s better or worse as I have a lot of respect for those guys, but whereas they’re more fast-paced, energetic and often prone to tantrums, Delia is a lot more calmer with a no-nonsense approach. She reminds me of a school teacher with a great deal of patience! She also had a reputation for complex dishes and for using obscure ingredients that were difficult to source but flicking through Delia Smith’s Summer Collection, there’s very little evidence of that. Many of the dishes seem extremely easy to rustle up with ingredients that are easily obtainable. I was also surprised to see some recipes for Thai and Sri Lankan dishes so I’m guessing the British public were starting to become more adventurous when it came to food just over twenty years ago!

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

A delicious looking vanilla cream terrine

 

There are a lot of tasty recipes in here, as well as ones I remember her making from the show such as Coconut ice-cream with lime syrup, ice-tea, and coconut lime cake. That last one is especially interesting because I’ve never been much of a fan of desiccated coconut but it looked so fantastic on the show that I wanted to try it!

So here’s the recipe for coconut lime cake taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection which I will also be attempting soon. Go on – inject a little sunshine into winter!

INGREDIENTS:

 2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
 2 limes
 6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
 6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
 6 oz (175 g) soft margarine or butter
 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
 2 level tablespoons dried coconut milk powder
 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
For the icing:
 3 limes
 8 oz (225 g) icing sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
Equipment
You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) round sponge tins 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, greased and the bases lined with silicone paper (parchment).

METHOD:

For the cake, start off by grating the zest of the 2 limes on to a small saucer, then cover that with clingfilm and set on one side. Next, measure the desiccated coconut into a small bowl, then squeeze the juice of the limes and pour this over the coconut to allow it to soften and soak up the juice for an hour or so.

To make the cake, just take a large, roomy bowl and sift in the flour, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then simply throw in all the other cake ingredients, including the lime zest and soaked coconut, and with an electric hand whisk, switched to high speed, whisk everything till thoroughly blended – about 2-3 minutes. Now divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins, smooth to level off the tops and bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centres feel springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely, carefully peeling off the base papers. They must be completely cold before the icing goes on.

To make the icing, begin by removing the zest from the limes – this is best done with a zester as you need long, thin, curly strips that look pretty. Then, with your sharpest knife, remove all the outer pith, then carefully remove each segment (holding the limes over a bowl to catch any juice), sliding the knife in between the membrane so that you have the flesh of the segments only. This is much easier to do with limes than it is with other citrus fruits. Drop the segments into the bowl and squeeze the last drops of juice from the pith. Now, sift the icing sugar in on top of the limes a little at a time, carefully folding it in with a tablespoon in order not to break up the lime segments too much.

When all the sugar is incorporated, allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then spread half of it on to the surface of one of the cakes and scatter with half the lime zest. Place the other cake on top, spread the rest of the icing on top of that and scatter the rest of the zest over. Then place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the icing before serving.

 

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Books Galore, Childhood Legends

 

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It’s Dinky, It’s A Diary… It’s Dinky Diary!

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A friend and I had a wander around a book shop this afternoon when we stopped at the diaries that were on display. My friend picked one up and flicked through it, declaring that she’d never be dedicated enough to fill it in every day. Talk then turned to the diaries we used to keep when we were teenagers and the sort of things that we used to write in them. Yes, it was the usual teenage girl stuff, though by the sounds of it, hers sounded more angst-ridden than mine. It wasn’t that I had an idyllic life – I just chose to gloss over the not-so-great stuff!

Image from orchardhill.org.uk

Image from orchardhill.org.uk

But the conversation reminded me just how much I used to be into keeping a diary. There were some years where I was very good and managed to fill it in almost every day. Then there were years when there’d be nothing written after March! but I definitely had an addiction to diaries, and it was what I looked forward to at the end of every year. Even though I tended to buy myself diaries, I think there were a few years where I knew that one of the beautifully-wrapped gifts under the tree contained a book in which I would later write all my inner-most thoughts, courtesy of one of my friends who knew about my diary addiction. And one year I actually bought myself two diaries because I couldn’t choose between them – how’s that for an addiction?

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Today, I’m not sure that people keep diaries the way they used to. I used to manage a stationary shop and I’ve lost count of the number of organizer inserts and diaries that we had to reduce to almost nothing in order to get them out of the shop once we reached March. A lot of these would eventually end up getting binned. It’s hardly surprising – modern technology has made it so that we don’t need book-style diaries anymore. Our mobile phones perform all these kinds of functions and more making it unnecessary for us to buy a book to scribble down reminders and our thoughts. It’s a real shame because to me, using your mobile phone – as practical and convenient as it may be – it’s just not the same. I find it so impersonal. There’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper, and holding an actual book in your hand. I may be super old-fashioned but… you like what you like!

Image from journalbuddies.com

Image from journalbuddies.com

Why did I like diaries so much? Well, I liked the idea of having something to record my thoughts. I also knew that it was something that us girls did. I don’t recall ever having one with a lock (although I did want one!) but I didn’t wrap a hundred hair bands around it either – I kind of figured that that wasn’t going to stop anyone from breaking and entering! I also really liked the ‘extras’ that came with the diary. These were the additional pages that contained interesting and useful information. Some of the diaries I bought were typically aimed at girls, so there was information on diet, beauty, fashion, socialising etc. A diary for girls that I bought in the early ’90s by Letts, even contained weird and wonderful real life stories as well as self-defence tips. I loved it!

Image from apeekatparadise.com

Image from apeekatparadise.com

I also think that at the time I harboured ambitions about being the next Pepys. However when I look back, I really don’t think that there’s anything in them that would have made people want to read them five hundred years later. I remember at school, during a life skills class, one of my classmates revealed that although she kept a diary and wrote in it every day, she would throw it out once the year was over as she didn’t want to run the risk of anyone finding and reading them. I thought that was a terrible shame; after all in years to come it’ll serve as a reminder of your youth.

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Fast forward many years, and I think I may, just may have one diary lurking around somewhere. So I probably did the same as my classmate did and chucked them out. Or they somehow got lost. Within the last decade, I’ve probably received just a couple of diaries as gifts. I certainly don’t buy them for myself any more. And when I do have a diary, I’m more likely to jot down appointments and other reminders rather than pour out my heart and soul into it!

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Apart from the Letts Girls Diary, I had two other favourites. One looked more like a Filofax, the must-have accessory from the decade I remember too well – the 1980s. As well as space to record your thoughts, there was also a school planner, recipes, all kinds of useful information, and stickers which could be used throughout the diary. It was very brightly coloured and interesting.

Oh how I miss this design! What my Dinky Diary looked like - but with tons more colour! Image from http://www.ipaustralia.com.au/

Oh how I miss this design! What my Dinky Diary looked like – but with tons more colour!
Image from http://www.ipaustralia.com.au/

The second diary that I had was the fabulous Dinky Diary. This came out, I believe, at the end of the eighties, although I didn’t buy mine until the early nineties and it really was a craze among teenage girls. Dinky Diaries, which were made by an Australian company, were very brightly coloured and were available in hot pink, blue, yellow, orange, purple and possibly red. They were more like organizers than basic diaries. I remember mine being purple while my sister nabbed the hot pink one. It was like a fold out book with a thick, hardback magnet cover that opened up into 3 sections: one for notes, one for addresses and a journal. It was and we felt very grown-up as we carried this diary around with us as though we had an exorbitant amount of information to either jot down or be reminded of. I went to an all-girls school so it went without saying that just about every pupil had one, and they would often adorn our desks. Why they were never confiscated I don’t know as I’m sure we spent more time fussing around with them than we did paying attention to the teacher. I don’t think that Dinky Diaries or anything that closely resembles them are available any more which is such a shame because more than two decades on, I’m sure there’s a new generation of young girls who’d love them just as much as we did.

Even though my Dinky Diary featured a different design, it's very similar to the organizer I had. Image from pinterest.com

Even though my Dinky Diary featured a different design, it’s very similar to the organizer I had.
Image from pinterest.com

I was probably in my early twenties when I stopped using a diary. I’m not completely sure of the reason why. I don’t think I could be bothered to write in it at the end of every day – the adult world leaves you very little time for such pursuits. However, writing this post has made me think about keeping a diary again. I’m sure it won’t amount to me doing anything more than jotting down appointments and reminders, but if I find one for 2015 that I think is interesting, not overly business-like and unashamedly girly, I could be tempted…

RELATED LINKS:
http://lynleystace.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/on-keeping-a-diary/

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The Cookery Year: A Meal For All Seasons

When it comes to cookery books, most people can’t wait to get hold of Jamie Oliver’s or Nigella’s latest offering – and I’m no different. But there are no words to describe just how thrilled I was to have recently got my hands on a copy of The Cookery Year by Reader’s Digest. I’ve been hunting around for this iconic cook book for a long time, hoping to add it to my overwhelming collection of cookery books. For me, this little gem is the king of cook books – and an integral part of my childhood.

The Cookery Year as I remember it

The Cookery Year as I remember it

From the moment Reader’s Digest published The Cookery Year in the early seventies, it became the cook book no kitchen was complete without. It contained a month by month guide to seasonal produce plus recipes. My mother was the proud owner of a copy from the seventies, and being the strange child that I was, I used to spend hours poring over the pages. I must have been the only five year old who knew what a blini was! It was this book which got me interested in food and cooking at a young age all those years ago, and it introduced me to the delicious summer pudding; the delightful ouefs a la neige, and the flaming brilliant Crepes Suzettes!

My new copy of the cookery year

My copy of the cookery year

But what I liked most about The Cookery Year were the beautifully illustrated opening pages listing information about different types of fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, fish and cheese, complete with instructions for preparation and cooking. I enjoyed looking the pictures and once I’d learnt to read, I was also able to find out when certain produce was available and preferable cooking methods though why a primary school-aged child needed to know such information, I’ll never know! Who’d have thought that The Cookery Year could be so educational? Furthermore whenever I played the Name Game, with friends, I was very rarely stuck when it came to the fruit and vegetable category – and I have The Cookery Year to thank for that!

August - my month as it appeared in the 1970s edition

August – my month as it appeared in the 1970s edition

Now my mother’s cook book – the same one I used to look through when I was a child – certainly looks as though it’s been through the wars. Battered and worn, with the cover and many of its pages missing, this book has been well and truly used! I remember Mum used to follow the recipes for some of the cakes that featured in this book and I did make something from The Cookery Year when I was about twelve – orange foam sauce which we served with spotted dick as we’d run out of the milk we needed to make the custard so this recipe saved the day!

Poultry

Poultry

Being reunited with this book is like being reunited with a missing piece of my childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with this cook book; flicking through the pages; feeling amazed at how much I’d remembered… I came across recipes and photos I instantly recognised. Grapefruit in brandy… scallops served in the shell… turbot with sweetcorn… salad elona… it was as though I was being transported back in time. I also came across dishes I hadn’t heard of in a long time which were extremely popular when I was growing up such as cock-a-leekie soup, melon and prawn basket, Steak Diane and peach melba. And oh my goodness, kidneys! A lot of kidneys were consumed in the seventies and eighties if these recipes are anything to go by. Maybe there are some changes in twenty-first century cooking for which we can be thankful!

Cuts of meat

Cuts of meat

The edition of The Cookery Year which I have found is from 2009 rather than from the 1970s and even though it’s done it’s best to adhere to the original format, there are differences. The hardback cover of the 1970s edition featured a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices, artistically arranged and photographed, while the 2009 edition has charming illustrations of fruit vegetables and fish emblazoned across its paperback cover. Some of the photographs inside the book are different to what I remember and some have been omitted altogether. Furthermore some recipes have also been removed such as the delightful ‘bunnies on the lawn’ that I always hoped my mum would make for my next birthday party.

The yummy cake page I remember so well which is missing from the 2009 edition

The yummy cake page I remember so well which is missing from the 2009 edition

Just as clothes go out of fashion, so does food and there are some dishes here which probably haven’t stood the test of time. I can’t see anyone serving up tomato ice as a starter or the delightfully named kidney scramble when they fancy a light snack. But there are still a huge number of classics such as chicken pie, tarte tatin, boef bourguignonne, and Lancashire hot pot as well as the famous summer pudding which outnumber the dishes which now seems outdated, so The Cookery Year is still a worthwhile buy. And in any case, any recipes that seem a bit dated can be adapted to modern tastes and to what is now available, or simply stick a ‘retro’ label on it and it will immediately be en vogue again!

Apparently not so common! Well maybe in another time...

Apparently not so common! Well maybe in another time…

It’s also amazing to see just how far we’ve come from the seventies in terms of food. Offal seems to be off the menu in a lot of households and restaurants, thank goodness. Chilli chocolate, salted caramel, pulled pork and many of today’s current food trends didn’t appear to exist then. In the seventies edition of The Cookery Year, peppers, avocados and courgettes were considered ‘less common vegetables’. Fast forward forty years and everyone’s fridge is full of them! And despite there surprisingly being lots of foreign influences, it’s missing a lot of the Thai, Japanese and South American flavours which are so popular today.

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I really do think that every household could benefit from owning a copy of The Cookery Year. It really is a must-have book. Those who already have this cook book have said that they’ve never really needed another cookery book as this one has everything they need to develop their culinary skills. It’s perfect for beginners to cooking enthusiasts alike; serious homemakers to those setting up home for the first time; parents and children – I even saw a comment from a lady who said that her three year old daughter sits on the work top looking through the book while her mother cooks. Sounds very familiar! Another mother has said that she uses the opening chapters as a teaching aid about food for her children. There are also menu suggestions for special occasions like weddings, Christmas and dinner parties. To say this book is extremely useful is an understatement – it’s the cook’s bible!

I’m so glad that The Cookery Year is part of my life again. I honestly don’t know how I lived without it for so long. I love the format, the month by month guide, the menus, the advice, the recipes, the illustrations, the photographs – in short, EVERYTHING! However, I’m still going to keep my eye out for an original edition like my mum had. What can I say – I’m so old school!

So I’m going to leave you with the recipe  from The Cookery Year for the orange foam sauce I made many years ago with great success. It really is a delicious, versatile and – if a twelve year old can do it – easy to make sauce. It goes well with most pies, tarts, hot pudding and cakes and even Christmas pudding!

ORANGE FOAM SAUCE

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Ingredients:

1 oz unsalted butter
1 orange (grated rind and juice of)
1 all-purpose flour
2 oz superfine sugar
1 egg
lemon juice

Method:

  • Cream the butter and grated orange rind and gradually beat in the flour mixed with sugar.
  • Separate the egg and beat the yolk into the butter & flour mixture.
  • Add the orange juice (made up to 5floz with water)
  • Don’t worry if the mixture curdles at this stage, it will become smooth again as it cooks.
  • Cook the sauce in a small heavy based saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and the flour is cooked through.
  • Add a little extra water if necessary to keep the sauce to a pouring consistency.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
  • Just before serving, beat the egg white until stiff and then fold it into the sauce and sharpen the sauce slightly with a little lemon juice.

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