It’s been a while since I’ve looked at Nell Heaton’s 1944 wartime recipe book, ‘Cookery To-day and To-morrow’, but this evening I just opened it at random and arrived in the middle of ‘Light Lunches and Supper Dishes’. The top of the page is half of the recipe for Devilled Fowl, Fish or Meat, which is for using up cold meat, fowl or fish – make a paste of black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, mustard and margarine, smear on the fish/meat/fowl and grill under a hot grill. It sounds very hot and spicy – so much for British cooks only preparing bland tasteless food in the past¬
The rest of the top two-thirds of the page is for Food in Sauce (seven suggestions) , Kedgeree (ever popular), Minced Meat Fritters (fritters seem to be having a renaissance now) and Toad in the Hole (Nell uses cold meat skinned and sliced, parboiled carrots, onions and leeks) The bottom third of the page is for curries, just three recipes, curry sauce for fish or meat, curried cooked meat, and curried raw meat – a quick method. Most of the recipes on this page use left-overs, or staples like tinned food, rice and root vegetables, trying to be imaginative, varied, and interesting and yet simple enough for people who maybe aren’t experienced cooks. I’m thinking here of the numbers of women who pre-war would have had maids, cooks, housekeepers and due to the number of these women who went to work in factories, on the land, in dockyards, would have to don their aprons and cook for themselves and their families.
The Food in Sauce section of page114 has seven recipes, but in the sauce section there are forty-four different sauces a cook could choose – and also ten sweet sauces which could be served with pudding! The forty-four sauces could be poured over the following which has been placed in a greased casserole:
- cold fish, garnished with a border of mashed potatoes and browned under the grill
- diced potatoes in cheese sauce garnished with chives
- green vegetables with cheese sauce
- macaroni in tomato or cheese sauce and garnished with fried onions
- oddments of meat in brown gravy garnished with cress
- parboiled root vegetables in curry sauce with a garnishing of boiled rice
- tinned fish in parsley sauce
Also on this page is a recipe for minced meat fritters, which is almost exactly what my mum used to make, except she called them rissoles and would make a drier mixture, coat in seasoned flour and fry – probably in dripping.
Minced meat fritters
Take ½ lb cooked meat and put it through the mincing machine. Add a grating of onion and season with pepper and salt. Mix together with 2 oz of breadcrumbs and bind with a beaten egg and a little milk. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into hot deep ft and fry for about 5 minutes. Drain well, place the fritters on paper and serve piled high on a hot dish, garnished with grilled half tomatoes and watercress.