Twelve recipes

I came across a book called ‘Twelve Recipes’; obviously it had more than twelve actual recipes in it, but I thought it was such a splendid idea, to have twelve basic recipes and then suggestions to develop them. I guess many of us might have started cooking like that, for example – a basic 4 4 4 2 (butter, sugar, flour, eggs) recipe for a cake and then add different flavourings or slightly change the quantities and end up with a whole range of different cakes to be enjoyed.

These are the twelve from Cal Peternell:

  1. toast
  2. eggs
  3. beans
  4. salad dressings and what to dress
  5. pasta with tomato
  6. pasta otherwise
  7. rice, polenta, and mashed potatoes
  8. only the best vegetables
  9. roasted chicken
  10. braises
  11. sauces
  12. cakes

Cal Peternell is a well known American chef who was inspired to write this from a list he gave to one of his children who was leaving home. No doubt he attached recipes to his list, and maybe for the book he has expanded it. When my children left home, my son was already a good and interested cook, my daughter, had no interest whatsoever, so I think if I had written a similar it would have had to have two editions, fancy and exotic for my son,  straightforward, practical and with specific ingredients for my daughter. If I had to write a collection of recipes for as an introduction to cooking mine would be very different, and would maybe something like this, in no particular order:

  1. soup; sauce
  2. salad
  3. cake, buns and biscuits
  4. pastry, pies and tarts
  5. stews –  meat; not meat
  6. roasts – vegetables; meat
  7. pasta/rice

You might notice that though I love fish, there’s no fish mentioned. I’m the only one who likes it so when I have it it’s at its most basic, or would be included in salad, pasty, pasta/rice.

Here’s a recipe which probably would not be included, from Eliza Acton who wrote it in the 1840’s. It comes from a blog I wrote some time ago, and I include a comment I made:

Red herrings are kippers, of course, or as Miss Acton tells us, Yarmouth bloaters. Kippers are smoked herring… I love them, their flavour is incomparable, mind you, herring is a favourite fish of mine anyway!

Red herrings, á la dauphin

Take off the heads, open the backs of the fish, and remove the back-bones: soak the herrings, should they be very dry, for two or three hours in warm milk and water, drain and wipe them. Dissolve a slice of fresh butter and mix it with the beaten yolks of a couple of eggs and some savoury herbs minced small: dip the fish into these, and spread them thickly with fine breadcrumbs; broil them of a light brown, over a moderate fire, and serve them on hot buttered toasts, sprinkled with a little cayenne.

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