Category Archives: Waitrose

Plum and Almond Cake (Waitrose) and Where I learned to Cook

Lovely mixture of sweet and sour

There are so many reasons – other than that I love them very much – why it’s so great when Louise and her family come and stay with us.

I’m always on and off slimming – all too soon I put back most of the weight I lost whilst on a ventilator two years ago after a major heart attack, so I don’t make desserts for just Joshua and me. Having visitors is a good excuse. The latest Waitrose Magazine came out with this recipe for Plum and Almond Cake just in time. Josh doesn’t like almond essence so I use vanilla essence instead.

When Josh and I got married in 1956 I could just about cook omelettes and minestrone. Over the next few years, whilst I was a Medical Student and then a House Officer, I gradually increased my repertoire but really learned to cook a wide variety of dishes at the excellent Good Housekeeping six-week full time course in 1960.

Listen to my account of that experience from my memoir Woman in a White Coat Chapter 14 Starting a Family Pages 247-249 and try the recipe given at the end of this post

You can purchase Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or search on ISBN 9781979834391 for the paperback version on Amazon at £9.99

Woman in a White Coat Chapter 14 Starting a Family Pages 247-249

By the time I finished my second house job, I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice.

I decided to take a cookery course instead. Only the girls in the lower streams at school did cookery and my mother had always shooed me away, especially during wartime. When we got married I could cook omelettes and minestrone and not much else, though I’d extended my range a bit since then.

‘Food is rationed,’ she’d say. ‘Don’t want you wasting good food. Time enough to learn to cook when you get married.’

My mother was a very plain cook. Her repertoire was limited to chicken soup, boiled chicken, braised beef, fried fish and sardines on toast. On Saturdays, we’d have cholent, potatoes and meat or chicken that had been cooking all night on a gas ring turned on very low before the Sabbath came in.

I saw an advertisement for a six-week full-time course at the Good Housekeeping Cookery School. The courses were originally designed for debutantes who needed to learn how to run a kitchen, though they might only set a foot inside one to give orders to the cook.

Most of the other students were upper crust young women who had hardly ever gone into a kitchen. One 17-year-old had never even peeled a potato. Some of the others had moved to London and got a flat of their own so they had done a bit of cooking but we were all pretty inexperienced. One student was a woman in her early thirties who had been in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) – someone more my age. We paired up and shared chores.

Before the war, the students would have cooked in the morning and learned about housework in the afternoon, though they might never have to do any housework once they were married. They were taught to use the starch-enriched water from soaking the potatoes they cooked in the morning to starch a frilly cap or a shirt; how to use gophering tongs – the tubular bladed instruments that made little tunnels in starched caps – and how to iron men’s shirts. By the time I took the course, it only covered cookery.

The kitchens were in a large basement in Mayfair. There were eight Formica-topped tables for the sixteen of us. The shelves around the walls were stacked with bowls and saucepans of every shape and size and there were drawers and drawers of cooking implements. as well as several gas cookers and hobs. On Mondays, the room smelled of cleaning fluid but the rest of the week we were greeted by the gorgeous smell of the cakes we’d cooked for our tea the day before.

We were taught from scratch – how to boil an egg, how to boil potatoes, how to skin and bone a fish. It was a mixture of traditional English cookery – roast beef, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding – and some more exotic dishes like dolmas (stuffed vine leaves), curries and the classic sole dishes Sole Veronique, sole with green grapes and Sole Meniere, sole panfried in butter.

In the mornings, we cooked a main meal for lunch and ate it – meat, fish or a vegetarian dish and two vegetables. In the afternoons we baked cakes, bread, brioches, and pastries. I adored it all, especially the chocolate éclairs. In 1960, no-one seemed to bother about pregnant women putting on too much weight and I ate for two with gusto.

I couldn’t find a suitable sized alphabetised book so I bought a linen covered book and made my own index. I still have it, a few food stains on the cover and the leaves a bit faded, but the recipes as good as ever.

The teachers were all highly experienced cooks and managed their often unruly pupils with ease. At dental and medical school, there had been few women – there was still a 10% quota for us. I thoroughly enjoyed the fun of bonding and giggling and having a great time in an all-female group.

I thrived on being pregnant, though I got a bit more tired than the others. It was a lovely six weeks. I cried when they gave me an embroidered layette at the end of the course.

Here is my slightly modified recipe: Continue reading Plum and Almond Cake (Waitrose) and Where I learned to Cook

Scrumptious Chocolate Muffins (Waitrose Magazine)

Absolutely delicious

Amongst the many great things about my daughter Louise visiting with her family is that I can try out new recipes, knowing that I have a ready and willing market. Luckily the Waitrose Food Magazine was just out.

These muffins are delicious although at first sight the recipe looks a bit odd – with yogurt and vegetable oil.

I used Green and Black’s Milk Chocolate and their Dark Orange and Almond Chocolate. The recipe asked for white and milk chocolate but i prefer dark chocolate. I’m sure any white and dark chocolate would do.

I am eternally grateful to Joyce, my fantastic cookery teacher at Morley College, for teaching me how to interpret and adjust magazine recipes  – Chapter 26 in Woman in a White Coat

My modified recipe

Makes 18 Continue reading Scrumptious Chocolate Muffins (Waitrose Magazine)

Beetroot (and caraway seed) Mini-loaves (Waitrose magazine)

Delicious little beetroot and caraway loaves

Josh and I take turns cooking dinner and on Tuesdays I cook and we always have soup, which is much nicer with home-made bread.

Sometimes we have slices of freshly made granary or wholemeal bread but there is something special about having individual mini-loaves. Josh doesn’t really care for caraway seeds so though these are delicious, next time I’ll leave out the caraway.

Recipe

I always mix my dough in my Panasonic breadmaker but prove and bake it in my electric fan oven, Continue reading Beetroot (and caraway seed) Mini-loaves (Waitrose magazine)

Another Waitrose Success – Coconut and Raspberry Loaf

Raspberry Coconut Loaf

An old friend coming to coffee is always a good excuse to try out a new cake recipe – Coconut and Raspberry Loaf.

I modified this one from the Waitrose magazine, leaving out the topping which would make it more difficult to freeze any left over – shaved coconut, raspberries and coconut milk yogurt.

Delicious!!

Recipe

Continue reading Another Waitrose Success – Coconut and Raspberry Loaf

Waitrose at Nine Elms, Battersea

Fresh Meat and Fish counter

I find the Little Waitrose shops unsatisfactory as they seem to specialise in sandwiches and ready meals – none of which I ever buy. And they always seem to be out of stock of the specialities I’m after.

Fruit and vegetables singly and in packets

The nearest big Waitrose for us is at Brunswick Square but it’s often difficult to find a parking space and the underground car park is cold and miserable. Traffic is often very difficult driving to the Kings Cross store.

Delicious-looking sushi

We were therefore delighted to find the new 18,000 sq ft Waitrose at Nine Elms which opened last November. It has a large easily accessible car park, a coffee bar – as well as free drinks if you have a My Waitrose card.

Situated in the rapidly developing new embassy district to which the US and Netherlands Embassies will be moving, once the rumoured 2000 homes are completed the store will no doubt be a mecca for foodies.

At last a Coffee and Walnut cake that tastes of coffee

Coffee and walnut cake
Coffee and walnut cake

At last a recipe by Jane Hicks from the May edition of the Waitrose magazine for a cake that tastes of coffee. My last attempt looked good but didn’t have much flavour.

It’s always good when friends come to coffee because then I can try out one of the cake and muffin recipes I’ve torn out of magazines or newspapers, or got on cards from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. Josh and I are both off sugar so we wait for guests to come before we indulge.

The recipe was for a square tin but I don’t have one so I used my 20cm round tin instead.

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat
Learning to cook
When I finished my second house job I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been much easier to find a locum dental appointment. Continue reading At last a Coffee and Walnut cake that tastes of coffee

THE NEW WAITROSE AT KING’S CROSS

Waitrose Riverside Aspect
Waitrose Canal side  Aspect

Roadworks made the drive to the King’s Cross Waitrose last Friday a nightmare but it was worth it.

Waitrose 5
The Jorja Longboat on the Regents Canal with the old St Pancreas Station on the far horizon

Opened September 24th 2015, it’s everything you expect of a Waitrose – clean and well-stocked with  friendly knowledgeable assistants.

It is situated in what was the Midland Goods Shed built  to handle carts bringing goods and produce from all over the country.  The East and West Handyside canopies  were added to keep the rain off carts and carters waiting to unload. It was the site of the temporary King’s Cross station when it was being rebuilt. In 1951 Queen Victoria boarded her special carriage for her journey to Balmoral.Cleaning

And you can even drop in your laundry and dry cleaning on your way to work!!

FRANCINE BREAD MIX

 

Bread Mix
French Bread mix

One of the reasons I always liked to go to Carrefour in Bayonne when we went to visit Louise in San Sebastian, was to buy Francine Farine aux Cereales (Granary flour) and packets of their salad seeds but then I found that Sainsbury’s Wholegrain Seeded bread flour and Lidl Wholefood Seed Mix were pretty well as good.
I recently saw the Francine logo in the flour section in Waitrose but it was to find that they stock the bread mix not the flour. However I thought I would give it a try – after all you just tip the contents into your loaf tin, add cold water, put your loaf tin into your bread machine and 4 hours later you have a crusty loaf.
To my taste, the resulting loaf was a bit too salty and at £1.89 more expensive than combining my own ingredients but great as a standby.