Tag Archives: Baking

ON BEING A GOURMET COOK – OR NOT

When Josh and I got married in 1956, I had two dishes in my repertoire – a simple omelette and minestrone soup. My mother was a plain cook, with a very limited range of dishes – cold fried fish on Friday night, cholent on Saturday and braised or roast beef or boiled chicken on other days. Our main meal was at lunchtime – our dinner –-always a rushed meal, because my father and older sisters had only half an hour for lunch and I had to get back to school. For supper we had egg on toast or sardines on toast so I should add those to my range of expertise and of course from my student days baked beans on toast. Josh on the other hand came from a family of good cooks – his paternal grandfather had been a baker in Poland – and so Josh was a much better cook than I.

I gradually extended my range with the help of recipes in newspapers and magazines but then, when I finished my second post as a house physician and was five months pregnant with Simon, I decided to take a 6 week full time Good Housekeeping Cookery Course held in basement kitchens in Mayfair. It was an excellent course ranging from the simplest dishes – how to boil an egg or mash a potato – to Black Forest Gateaux and a range. of various loaves of bread.

When you have four children, and two of them are ravenous boys, you go more for quantity than variety. I got used to serving a three course meal and then having the boys ask for a ‘sarnie’ – or two. They were still ‘starving’.

After I retired in 1991, I took a wide range of courses at Further Education Colleges including cooking. The very best was Joyce’s course (sadly she’s no longer with us) at Morley College. It was a ‘Cook and Eat’ course. You paid a modest sum for the ingredients that Joyce lugged in each week, and then you paired off to cook a three course meal. I think I took the course three times – Joyce had a huge variety of tried and tested recipes.

I only remember one absolute disaster.

We had one student who was always ahead of herself. Her task was to whip the cream for our Blackberry and Apple crumble and she’d got the cream prepared long before we were ready to sit down for our meal. I had to rush off for my Spanish lesson at the Mary Ward Centre in Queens Square and so was the first to be served with my desert.

I took a spoonful and spat it out. I was sure it was poisoned. The salt and sugar – both white granules – were kept in glass jars and she hadn’t bothered to check the labels. She’d used salt instead of sugar and in that concentration the salted cream tasted vile. Probably a very primitive response to ingredients that – certainly in that quantity – are bad tor us.

I thank all those lovely people who wrote and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’

‘Woman in White Coat – the memoir of girl growing up the East End making good.

Woman in a White Coat paperback

Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

 

 

Recipe for my favourite fruit cake

Note how the fruit has remained evenly distributed

Grease and line the bottom of a large loaf tin Continue reading ON BEING A GOURMET COOK – OR NOT

THE FABULOUS SMELL OF FRESHLY BAKED BREAD

We slice and toast these mini loaves lightly. Yummy!!

I love the smell of freshly baked bread. When in 1943 we moved to the flat in Wentworth Dwellings that overlooked the market, every weekday morning I woke to the gorgeous aroma of baking bread from Kossoff’s bakery opposite. I now bake my own bread and rolls so I can enjoy that lovely experience regularly.

One of the advantages of having four children and four grandchildren is that I can pass on any pieces of equipment I want to upgrade, like a bread maker. My British grandson, Luke, was a willing recipient of my Panasonic bread maker, so I could in all conscience buy the latest model.

For years I had used my bread maker to make the dough and then prove and bake it in a regular long loaf tin in my normal fan oven. I always thought that the loaves that are completely finished in bread makers are too tall for us. Our appetites are not what they used to be, now Josh is 90 and I am 88, and the slices are just too big. But then Luke sent me an image of the loaf he had baked using the delay feature, so he was woken by the fantastic smell of a freshly baked loaf. I realised that I could just cut the loaf in half – eat one half and freeze the other. Works a dream!!

I still use my bread maker to make dough for rolls, which we like to have with soup. Josh and I share the cooking to fit in with our classes and it’s become a tradition for me to make soup on Thursdays. I always have a variety of rolls in the freezer, including Jamie Oliver’s Crumpies. If you like crumpets – the old fashioned type with big bubbles – his easy recipe is great, but our favourites are beetroot rolls. I got the original recipe for a beetroot loaf from a supermarket magazine but it works just as well for the rolls I bake in little loaf tins. You can’t taste the beetroot but the colour is gorgeous.

Many thanks to those who’ve contacted me to say they are going to buy my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ as a Hanukah or Christmas present

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

MORE MEMORIES OF PETTICOAT LANE

 

My third floor window faced onto Wentworth Street. It was then above a hardware shop

Amongst my most powerful memories of living in Petticoat Lane are the smells. I make my own bread and when I smell baking I’m taken back to our cold water tenement in Wentworth Dwellings. From 1943 we lived on the third floor with my bedroom facing on to Wentworth Street and Kossoff’s bakery. The smell when I woke first thing in the morning was delicious – it made me ravenous. Then there were the aromas of pickled cucumbers and pickled herrings from the barrels outside Marks, the delicatessen. I don’t like pickled – or schmaltz or chopped herrings – but I love the pickled onions that came with them. In a sandwich of rye bread still warm from the baker they are heaven.

My bedroom was above the hardware shop with its odours of carbolic acid and paraffin. I was often sent down to buy a packet of flypapers – sticky yellow curls of stiff paper that you hang up and wait for flies to attach themselves. When it is completely covered with dead and dying flies you hang up another – but there were always more around in those pre-fridge days. Bed bugs were a constant problem. We tried Flit sprays and pouring white spirit over the bed springs, but neither did much good. The springs were attached to the headboards by tightly curled wires in which bed bugs made their home. My mother would regularly pour boiling water over them but there were always more. When the war ended in 1945, we were visited by council workers with DDT sprays that did the trick – at least for a time. We didn’t know then that DDT was dangerous – for humans as well as for bedbugs.

Earlier, my family had lived in a smaller Wentworth Dwellings flat, this time facing onto Goulston Street. On our side of the road were the chicken stalls with crates of live chickens clucking underneath. On the other side, by Brunswick Dwellings, were the fish stalls. The fish was always fresh that day – collected from Billingsgate Market as soon as it was light – but the fish heads and bits and pieces chucked away under the stalls made that side of the road really smelly. I can still conjure up that whiff of ammonia and hated walking on that side of the street. The discarded offal from the chicken stalls added their own aroma to the mix.

And then there were all the street cries. When my husband wants to tease me, he’ll call out ‘Ripe tomatoes, shilling a pound,’ reminding me of my East End past. I’d rather he’d have chosen ‘Sweet strawberries. Melt in your mouth.’

On Sundays, Petticoat Lane was quite different – much more crowded and spreading to all the surrounding streets. Now the hucksters were calling out their crockery and linen wares instead of fruit and vegetables. Completely different smells – now of leather and fabric.

If you were lucky, you might hear Prince Monolulu crying ‘I gotta horse!!’, the long ostrich feathers in his headdress and his chieftain’s fly whisk waving in the breeze. They said he’d won what was then the vast sum of £8000 in the Derby in 1920. It brought you luck to touch or even be near him.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Mary Berry’s Fruit Scones

Delicious fruit scones

There’s nothing like a fruit scone with butter/ jam/ clotted cream for a mid morning snack or to fill a gap between dinner and bed.

I usually use only raisins but found I had nearly run out so I made up the quantity with currants. The scones still taste great!

These fruit scones freeze well so I can whip one out when I’m feeling peckish.

I always pick up the free Waitrose and Tesco magazines when I go supermarket shopping. Some recipes work well and others are a bit of a flop, but I’ve never tried one of Mary Berry’s recipes and have it fail.

Three cheers for Mary Berry.

Read my memoir for how I learned to cook ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

Fruit Scone recipe – (modified from Mary Berry)

Makes about 20

Bake 220°C 12 mins

Continue reading Mary Berry’s Fruit Scones

Carrot and Pistachio Bundt Cake (Tesco magazine)

 

Delicious Carrot and Pistachio Bundt cake

I have been so pleased with my red silicone Bundt Mold from Amazon that I bought my daughter Louise (here for Easter) one to take back to Spain.

 

The finished cake comes out easily with a professional-looking shiny finish. I use ‘Bake Easy’ spray to grease it, turn it upside down to drain off the excess, tip in some chopped nuts and shake the mold around to coat it.

I first made an Apple Cake in my Bundt Mold and this week baked a Carrot and Pistachio cake modified from Tesco magazine. Their recipe has a maple syrup, soft cheese and yogurt topping but I didn’t want the extra sugar content and I wanted to freeze what was over so I omitted it,

I still think about my lovely cookery teacher, Joyce, at Morley College every time I try a new recipe.

Read about my cookery escapades in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Modified recipe Carrot and Pistachio Bundt cake

Carrot and Pistachio Cake

Bake 60 mins 180°C

Grease a Bundt tin well and sprinkle with chopped nuts

Continue reading Carrot and Pistachio Bundt Cake (Tesco magazine)

Scrumptious Rock Cakes – ‘Woman in a White Coat’ Memoir for Christmas

Delicious rock cakes

These Rock cakes are so easy and low sugar – none in the dough mixture and just a sprinkle of demerara sugar on the top to make them crunchy. And they freeze well – if you have any left once the family has seen them.

You can read about the cookery classes I went to at Morley College with Joyce. Thanks to her teaching I’m happy to tackle most recipes. Such a shame she died so soon after retiring.

Read about cookery and further education in my memoir Woman in a White Coat. It makes an excellent Christmas present.

The  paperback is available from Amazon at £9.99 or on Kindle at £2.99

Recipe for Rock Cakes
Continue reading Scrumptious Rock Cakes – ‘Woman in a White Coat’ Memoir for Christmas

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)

Mary Berry’s Orange Polenta Cake

Delicious

I can never resist Mary Berry’s new Cookbooks. There are always some new dishes I must try.

There are several recipes in her new Classic book  and it’s great to have a cake for our gluten-sensitive grandson.

This Orange Polenta Cake is delicious though i’d have been pushed to fit it into a 20cm cake tin. My 23cm springform tin was just right.

Cookery was amongst the several  Further Education classes I took after i retired as a consultant pathologist. Joyce was the best tutor by far. Not only were all her recipes tried and tested – foolproof – but I learnt how to follow and adapt recipes from all different sources.

Recipe Continue reading Mary Berry’s Orange Polenta Cake

Special Treats for the Family – Plum TrayBake

Daniels’s favourite

When my daughter, Louise, and her family come to England for the New Year, Easter and in August, I cook their favourite foods.

Daniel, as a strapping nearly 18-year old, loves desserts in general and Plum Traybake in particular. I can’t remember where the original recipe comes from but it’s one of those that work every time.

As well as Louise’s family, our elder son, Simon, and Bernard and his girlfriend, Jo, came to dinner. It was Josh’s turn to cook but I made the dessert while he cooked a vegetarian cottage pie – Bernard is a vegetarian.

And saw online that my memoir Woman in a White Coat is still selling well on Amazon. Thank you all.

Recipe for Plum Traybake Continue reading Special Treats for the Family – Plum TrayBake