ArchiveAugust 7, 2010

How the British Fell in Love with Food

The British Guild of Food Writers was founded on April 12th 1984 when a small group of food writers met over a superb lunch, amongst them Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David, Arabella Boxer and Michael Smith. The purpose was to start an association of Britain’s culinary scribes. 25 years later there are almost 400 members who include some of the most influential voices in food writing and broadcasting. To celebrate a quarter of a century the British Guild of Food Writers has published ‘How the British Fell in Love with Food’. It’s a fascinating historical record from the arrival of avocado in our supermarkets in 1970s to the food blogs of the 21st century. It’s a fascinating read and includes some superb examples of creative food writing as well as some delicious recipes, here are a few to whet your appetite.


Harold Wilshaw’s Avocado Salad

Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book – Michael Joseph

There is no need to restrict this salad to Summer. It works well with frozen broad beans.

1 ripe avocado

lemon juice

olive oil

salt, pepper

250 g (8 oz) shelled broad beans

soured cream

chopped parsley

Peel and dice the avocado, sprinkling it immediately with lemon juice, oil and seasoning. Cook the beans, and then skin them – this is essential. Arrange beans and avocado on a plate, preferably a bright pink plate to show off the different greens. Pour over a little soured cream and sprinkle with parsley.

Jill Norman’s Ceviche

The Complete Book of Spices – Dorling Kindersley

In this Mexican hors d’oeuvre, the fish is tenderized by marinating in lemon juice for several hours.

Serves 4

175 g (6 oz) salmon

175 g (6 oz) brill or turbot

175 g (6 oz) cod fillet

juice of 2–3 lemons

1–2 fresh green chillies, seeded and finely chopped

1 small mild onion, chopped

1/2 avocado, peeled, stoned and cubed

2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

125 ml (4 fl oz) olive oil

handful of coriander leaves, chopped

salt and pepper

Remove any skin or bones from the fish and cut the flesh into small cubes. Put the cubes into a dish with the lemon juice, turn to coat all the fish and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours. Drain the lemon juice from the fish and combine with the chopped vegetables, olive oil and coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the fish in a serving dish. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Peter Gordon’s Grilled Scallops with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Crème Fraîche

The Sugar Club Cookbook – Hodder and Stoughton

Peter Gordon first put this on his menu in July 1995 and it has only come off when storms prevented divers collecting scallops. The chilli sauce recipe makes more than you need, so keep the surplus in the fridge for other dishes.

Serves 4

12 large diver-caught scallops, trimmed

sesame oil

salt and pepper

watercress leaves

½ cup creme fraiche

Sweet Chilli Sauce

10 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 large red chillies, stems removed

3 thumbs of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 thumb of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped

8 lime leaves

3 lemon-grass stems, remove the two outside leaves, discard the top third of the stem and finely slice the remainder

1 cup fresh coriander leaves

11/2 cups unrefined golden caster sugar

100 ml (5 fl oz) cider vinegar

50 ml (31/2 fl oz) Asian fish sauce

50 ml (13/4 fl oz) tamari

Put the first seven ingredients of the chilli sauce in a food processer and

puree to a coarse paste.

Put the sugar in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water and place on

a moderate heat, stirring well until the sugar dissolves. When it has, remove the spoon and turn the heat up to full. Boil for 5–8 minutes and do not stir until it has turned a dark caramel colour (but don’t allow it to burn). Now stir in the paste, bring the sauce back to the boil and add the last three ingredients. Return to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Leave it to cool before eating. Lightly oil the scallops with sesame oil and season, then grill each side on a char-grill, overhead grill or skillet for 90 seconds. Sit them on a bed of watercress, put a dollop of crème fraiche on top and drizzle generously with sweet chilli sauce.


Anna Del Conte’s Tagliatelle al Limone

Gastronomy of Italy – Bantam Press

“For me the lemon tree is the most beautiful tree there is, magical in the way that it can produce both flowers and fruit at any time of the year. The flowers known as zagara have a pungent yet delicate fragrance; they contain essential oils used in the production of eau-de-Cologne.”

Serves 4

tagliatelle made with 200 g (7 oz) Italian 00 flour and 2 free-range eggs,








500 g (1lb 2oz) fresh tagliatelle,


250 g

(8 oz) dried egg tagliatelle

40 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter

grated rind and juice of 1 organic lemon

3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and chives

150 ml (1/4 pt) double cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper

40 g (1 1/2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan. Add the grated lemon rind, the chopped herbs, cream, salt and pepper. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Add the lemon juice to the pan and bring back to the boil, then take the pan off the heat and keep warm. Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain but do not over-drain, and then transfer to a warmed bowl. Dress immediately the pasta with the sauce and a sprinkling of

Parmesan. Toss very well and serve at once with the remaining cheese separately.

Colin Spencer’s Rocket and Avocado Sandwich

Colin Spencer’s Vegetable Book – Conran Octopus

“This is my favourite summer sandwich. Rocket and avocado go marvellously

well together, but I confess I like a touch of other flavourings in it as well, as

a kind of background track to the two stars. This amount will make two fairly large and bulky sandwiches, which provide an excellent and satisfying lunch for two people.”

2 tbsp soft goats’ cheese

4 slices of your favourite brown bread, buttered

smear of Marmite, Vegemite or Vecon

about 10 thin cucumber slices

1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced

20 or so rocket leaves tiny drop of Tabasco (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smear the goats’ cheese on the buttered side of 2 slices of the bread and smear the Marmite or whatever on the other 2 slices. Lay the cucumber slices over the cheese, season with pepper, then lay the avocado slices on top of that, followed by the rocket leaves. Season with salt and Tabasco, if using. Then cover with the other pieces of the brown bread. Press the tops gently down and slice the sandwiches in half with great care.


Xanthe Clay’s Pimms Jellies with Orange Cream and Strawberries

It’s Raining Plums – Martin Books

A British summer in a glass, the orange cream balances the alcoholic bite

of the Pimms.

Serves 6

175 ml Pimms

3 sheets gelatine

400 ml lemonade

juice of half a lemon and half a lime

1/2 pint double cream

grated rind of an orange

2 tbsp unrefined golden caster sugar

1/2 lb strawberries and peeled segments of two oranges

mint sprigs and borage flowers

Soak the gelatine in cold water until soft. Heat half the lemonade until

just about boiling, remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. When the gelatine is dissolved, add the Pimms, lemon and lime juice, and the rest of the lemonade. Pour through a sieve into a bowl and refrigerate until set. Lightly whip the cream and stir in the sugar and orange rind. Slice the strawberries. To serve, dollop some jelly in a glass, and top with strawberries and orange segments. Finish with a blob of the orange cream and a long sprig of mint tucked in the side.

Xanthe Clay’s Rosewater Cake, Strawberries and Cream

It’s Raining Plums – Martin Books


This easy cake with its slightly crunchy glaze is lovely by itself for tea, or like

this, piled with strawberries for pudding.

Serves 8–10

6 oz (170 g) butter

6 oz (170 g) unrefined

golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1/2 lb (225 g) self raising flour

6 tbsp rosewater

1/2 lb (225 g) icing sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/4 lb (600g) or so strawberries, sliced in half if large

300 ml double cream, whipped until softly billowing

Pre-heat the oven to 180.C (350.F, Gas 4) Grease and base line an 8 x 10 in ( 20 x 25 cm) cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, then beat in the eggs one by one. Mix in the flour, then 4 tbsp rosewater. Turn into the tin, spread out and bake for 35–40minutes. Leave in the tin while you mix the icing sugar, remaining rosewater and lemon juice to make a glaze. Prick the still warm cake all over with a fork and pour over the glaze. Remove from the tin when cold and cut into squares or fingers. Serve the cake with strawberries and cream, or for a more dramatic effect, stack the pieces in a pyramid, dollop on a little of the cream and tumble over the strawberries. Scatter with rose petals, either fresh from unsprayed, garden roses, or crystallized, and serve with the rest of the cream.



Wild Food

If you are lucky enough to have a glut of mackerel this recipe is perfect.

Soused Sprats, Herrings or Mackerel with Tomatoes and Mustard Seed

The fish will keep refrigerated for up to one month.

Serves 4

4 fresh mackerel or herrings or 12-16 sprats

150ml (5fl oz) white wine vinegar

150ml (5fl oz) dry white wine

62g (2 1/2oz) thinly sliced onion

225g (8oz) ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced

2 sprigs of fennel

2 small bay leaves

1 teaspoon white mustard seed

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

Pour the vinegar and white wine into a stainless steel saucepan, add the sliced onion and tomatoes, herbs, mustard seed and seasoning. Bring to the boil and reduce by half. Meanwhile gut and fillet the fish. Roll the fish fillets or lay flat in a casserole or sauté pan. Pour the pickle over the top. Cover and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 4-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Serve chilled.


How the British Fell in Love with Food Durrus Fete

Contact Canon Paul Willoughby for details – phone: 027 61011 –


O’Brien Chop House in Lismore

Green Saffron & the Dungarvan Brewing Company are having a “Beer and Curry Feast” on Friday, 27 August, 2010 at 7:30pm. Chop House Chef, Eddie Baguio, and Arun Kapil have created a delicious authentic curry feast using Green Saffron’s Indian spices as well as local produce such as Michael McGrath’s lamb, Dan Aherne’s organic chicken, hand-reared Ballyvolane House saddleback pork, and potatoes and vegetables from Ballyvolane’s walled garden. The Dungarvan Brewing Company’s Head Brewer, Cormac O’Dwyer, will showcase each of his craft beers which will compliment the curries perfectly. To book contact + 353 58 53810 and in association with is on Wednesday 11th August this year and takes place in the gardens of the Durrus Rectory. the Fete has three distinct places to eat – a garden lunch with all produce from the local area, a barbecue with locally sourced meat and afternoon tea. Elizabeth Warner and her team will run a fabulous cake stall showcasing the most vivid taste of West Cork in the form of local baking. All the proceeds from this fete go to supporting local and international charities. is published by Simon & Schuster and can be purchased at


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