If the sweetness is not objected to!

I don’t have a sweet tooth at all, and not really a fan of savoury dishes with a sweet element – sour and bitter, that’s me! However, there are some very sweet things which I really love, which goes completely against me being not a sweet person – baklava, Turkish delight, chocolate and ginger and something I’ve not had for many years, deep coconut tarts! I wonder if I can find a recipe for them.

The reason i’m thinking about sweet things is that i came across an interesting recipe, which finished with the line that an ingredient can be added ‘If the sweetness is not objected to.’ I think I would have to taste it before I decided, and here is the recipe – I have rewritten it in a normal form, as The A1 Cookery Book which I have taken it from did not list the ingredients separately but just included them in the instructions – which are not exactly helpful, to be honest:

Chestnut Soup

  • some fine Spanish chestnuts – enough to have ¾ lb when they have been prepared as below; reserve the water they have been boiled in
  • good stock (maybe vegetable or chicken as it sees to be a light soup with a delicate flavour) a quart to each ¾ lb prepared chestnuts
  • the proper quantity of stock (whatever that is, I am guessing sufficient to make the soup as thick as you want it)
  • sufficient mace, cayenne and salt (again a matter of taste, but as this book is designed for novice cooks I don’t think that is very helpful!)
  • ¼ pint of cream (surely that depends on the amount of soup? I guess again it should be what you think of as ‘sufficient’!)
  • stock retained from boiling chestnuts to begin with
  1. take the outer casing from the chestnuts and throw them in large pan of warm water
  2. increase the heat and as it comes to the boil, remove the chestnuts and peel them quickly, putting them in cold water as you do so
  3. take ¾ lb chestnuts and cover them with good stock, stew gently for 1 hour or until they break when touched gently by a fork
  4. drain, retaining stock, pound smoothly and rub through a sieve
  5. mix them with a proper quantity of stock (different stock I think) add spices to taste
  6. stir often until it boils
  7. ¼ pint of cream will greatly improve the soup
  8. part of the stock in which the chestnuts have boiled (to begin with, (the first time, after they have been skinned? Not sure) can be used for the soup If the sweetness is not objected to

This is another recipe which sounds interesting, but would need to be practised on the family before offering to guests!

It does make me wonder how a novice cook who is expecting this book to be “written in the simplest possible manner to help the inexperienced” as the subtitle says, could actually cope successfully with recipes written like this. I thank back to my aunty and to my mum who were both excellent, fantastic cooks; in the first days of their marriages, each had disasters which were recounted with humour:

Aunty Beryl was making brandy snaps – those fine ‘biscuits which come out of the oven soft and are rolled round something like the handle of a wooden spoon to cool, harden and form a tube which will be filled with cream. She looked at her recipe book (probably Mrs Beeton) and saw her mixture made 24 brandy snaps – but she only had one wooden spoon. She went round all the neighbours borrowing wooden spoons… of course she only really needed one as the snaps were made one at a time! It was also Aunty Beryl who, when doing her first grocery shop and having no idea of the quantities of things, ordered a pound of ground pepper – which probably lasted her until her children were grown up!

My mum, who became the finest pastry cook, made an apple pie for my dad which was inedible… I tell the story here:


Of course the chestnuts in my featured image are horse chestnuts, not edible ones!


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