Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Pauper's Cookbook: A Cookbook for the People from the 1970's U.K.

Vintage Cookbook: The Pauper's Cookbook, Jocasta Innes
Publication Details: Penguin, multiple editions, 1970's

Today we are going to look at a remarkable cookbook that was published in the UK in the 1970's and that very much fits the theme of food posts on this blog.

Put out in a no-frills, largely unillustrated mass market pocket book edition, The Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes was aimed squarely at the people. It is the exact opposite of the lush cookbooks by Food Network celebrity chefs (and I am not knocking these, I own more than a couple of them) and is all about using basic ingredients and stretching the household food budget.The cookbook was published by Penguin and struck quite a nerve in the UK in its day, being reprinted several times (my copy is the eighth reprint).

The book is divided in sections that reflect its aim, starting with "Where the Money Goes" and following through with sections like "Getting to Know Your Oven" and "Padding", a section that "deals specifically with the art or science of stretching small quantities of food (and money) a bit further."   

The book includes many UK staples like Yorkshire Pudding, Toad-in-the-hole, Oxtail Stew, and "Stovies", as well as some more eccentric entries. It also runs the gambit from mains to soups and salads to desserts, with a full array of meat, fish, vegetable and poultry options. Most of the dishes are simplicity itself, and many have a wonderfully rustic element to them.

Today we will share two soup recipes; Celery Soup & Barley Kale Soup. As always these are shared exactly as they appeared in the original text.

Celery Soup

An excellent, easily made soup, which really tastes of the vegetable. Water and bouillon cubes can be used for the stock.

1 head celery, 1 large potato, 2 pints stock or 1 pint stock and 1 pint milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, butter\

Wash the celery thoroughly. If the head is small use all of it, if large you can keep the heart for a salad. Chop it roughly, leaves included. Peel and chop up potato. Melt a lump of butter in a deep pan and gently stew the vegetables in it till well coated. This preliminary stew-frying of the vegetables makes these soups richer and tastier. Now add the stock, bring to the boil, cover the pan and cook steadily for 45 minutes or until the celery is soft. It needs to be soft because you have to pass it through a sieve. After sieving, return to the pan, add the milk, stir well and heat through. Taste and add salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg. Just before serving, you can stir in a spoonful of milk or a little butter. 

Croutons go well with this.

Barley Kale Soup

An old Scots cottage recipe, and highly economical.

2 oz. pearl barley, 1 quart basic stock or water plus a mutton bone and a few scraps of meat, 1 lb. kale, 3 leeks, salt, pepper

Put the barley and stock, or water plus bone and scraps (the bone from the lamb joint would do very well) to simmer for about 3/4 hour or until the barley is tender, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the kale, washed and cut into thin shreds, with the coarsest stalks removed, also the washed and sliced leeks. Simmer till the vegetables are tender, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Before serving remove the bone and any unsightly scraps of meat.

These two terrific recipes pretty much embody the tone throughout; direct, no-nonsense and delicious! The book itself reflects a different time in publishing and cookbooks as well, and it truly aimed at the people and the working class.

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