Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Random Recipes - Marguerite Patten's Victory Cookbook

I'm sneaking in right at the last minute, despite having actually made this recipe and photographed it right back at the start of August! I just didn't have time to write it up, and then life got in the way, including changing jobs, a very last minute trip to Ireland to visit a new baby, a few social events and all sorts of stuff. Anyway I've hung up my chef's whites for the last time (although I've said that at least twice before) and now I will be strictly baking only for pleasure!

So this month's random recipe theme was completely random! Dom instructed us to lay out all our cookbooks and pick one but as I have far too many to do that with, I used a random number generator instead.
It came up with The Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten, which is a book that I bought to read, not to cook from.

Marguerite Patten is one of my heroes. I'm fascinated by the Home Front, rationing and everything to do with the home during the Second World War, and this is such an interesting book - but I really never envisaged actually making any of the recipes! But I thought it'd be interesting. There are lots of small recipes on each page so I opened it randomly and then picked a recipe with a pointy finger and my eyes closed! And I got Beetroot Pudding, which was good as I had a beetroot that was needing to be used up.


6oz wheatmeal flour (I used wholemeal)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 oz sugar
4 oz finely grated raw beetroot
1/2 oz fat (I used lard)

Method, in Mrs Patten's own words:

Just the job to make your sugar ration go further! First mix flour and baking powder, rub in the margarine, then add sugar and grated beetroot.

Now mix all the ingredients to a soft cake consistency with 3 or 4 tablespoons of milk. Add a few drops of flavouring essence if you have it. Turn the mixture into a greased pie dish or tin and bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes. This pudding tastes equally good hot or cold.

And the verdict? Well, I was expecting it to be horrible. But it wasn't. It was okay, not gorgeous, not disgusting, just okay. Definitely nicer with a drizzle of custard though!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Vanilla Melting Moments - and I have some news

On Sunday, I had a fleeting visit from the in-laws in the afternoon and a barbecue at our friends' boat in the evening. I had to make something suitable that could be nibbled at with coffee AND picked at after a load of burgery type stuff. Probably something small and fairly light but really tasty.

When it comes to little pretty tasty things to pick at, Rachel Allen has yet to let me down, and one recipe from Rachel's Favourite Food at Home practically jumped off the page!

These are very crumbly, buttery little vanilla morsels, sandwiched together with vanilla buttercream, so small and light they probably contain no calories (although don't quote me on this) and so ridiculously quick and easy to make that you can whip up a batch in no time at all.


For the biscuits
175g self raising flour
125g cornflour
50g icing sugar
225g butter, diced
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 160ÂșC and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats (Rachel says not to bother but I reckon it makes the cleanup easier).

Place the flour, cornflour and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Add the butter and vanilla and turn the machine on until it all comes together into a ball of dough. Roll into small balls the size of a large marble and place, well spaced out, on the baking tins. Dip a fork in cold water and use to flatten the balls slightly.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (it took 15 in my oven). Rachel says remove carefully (these little babies are fragile) and let them cool on a wire rack, but I say just let them cool on the baking sheets - they're less fragile when they're cool and they don't go soggy as they dry.


50g softened butter
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Just bung the lot in the processor (don't even bother washing the bowl after making the biscuits) and mix together till it turns into icing.

Spread carefully on half the biscuits (remember they are still pretty fragile) and sandwich together with the other halves. Dust with some more icing sugar to make them look pretty!

This recipe made about twenty sandwiched biscuits. There were six of us eating them and we devoured them all in a day, which meant we all had at least three each and someone probably had five (but I would never name names, oh no). They were universally adored and I will not be making them again unless I know there will be quite a crowd to help me eat them, as I know I would be capable of eating the whole batch myself.

In other, not-exactly-baking-related news, I decided a while ago that I really didn't want to be a chef anymore. The money is terrible,it's incredibly tiring, you have to work weekends etc etc. I've just had enough. So I decided I wanted to go back to my former life as an office worker, and I've been offered a job that I really like the sound of in a company that is apparently fantastic to work for. I'm leaving my current job, and starting the new one, at the end of August. I'll still be baking, but now it'll just be for me and my family and friends, so I'm probably going to have to bake even more to get my fix when I'm not doing it every day at work!
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