Good Housekeeping Cookery Book

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"Good Housekeeping" Cookery Book: The Cook's Classic Companion  By "Good Housekeeping"

Having lived for over twenty years in Cairo, where home cooking was the norm, on returning to the UK I gave in to the temptation to try out quite a few of the ready meals that I came across in the supermarkets. I was often short of time, and that was my excuse for not going overboard on home cooking.

I did think it might be useful to have a recipe book just in case, and bought The Good Housekeeping Cookery Book for as little as one pound as part of an introductory offer when I joined a book club. It went up on the top shelf of the bookcase, and there it stayed until I thought I would check its advice on roasting the Christmas turkey.

It was some time before the book was opened again. We always used to buy ready-made pizza bases and put our own toppings on. Then we wondered if perhaps we could make our own pizza dough as well. I finally got the cookery book down from the shelf and found the dough recipe. You do need a bit of free time, as after making the dough and kneading it for a while, you then have to leave it for about an hour to prove before shaping it and then adding the toppings. Believe me, the extra time and effort are worth it; we still have two ready-made bases in the cupboard, but we just don’t want to use them any more. They cannot compare with a home-made base.

I was invited to lunch early in the summer by some friends who served as a starter a salad with ham, nectarines and roquefort with mascarpone cheese and fresh herbs. It was delicious, and I was desperate to find something comparable when I invited them back a few weeks later. Leafing through the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book I came across a salad with crisp-fried prosciutto and blueberries, salad leaves, chicory, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. I was a little surprised that the prosciutto was to be fried, but it was a big success, and the pine nuts and parmesan added wonderfully to the flavour.

The weather had not been exactly summery for the previous two weeks, so I was looking for a warming main course and plumped for lamb tagine. The ingredients include ginger, coriander, saffron, bay leaf, fresh parsley and sherry, with a cinnamon stick, a few dates and some honey added fifteen minutes before the end of the cooking time. It may sound a little sweet for some, but this is offset by the spices. Although it was a warm day, we really enjoyed this dish.

I have also tried a similar vegetarian recipe from this book: chick pea, aubergine and mushroom tagine. Again, there is a good variety of spices: cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and dried apricots (rather than the dates in the lamb tagine); it is served with couscous topped with flaked almonds and fresh parsley. A wonderful taste, and the chick peas of course are not expensive.

Once the summer was over, my elder son was clamouring for stew and dumplings. Consulting the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, I came across rich braised beef with herb and mustard dumplings. With ingredients including Guinness, dried porcini mushrooms, mushroom ketchup and cubed pancetta, this sounded worth trying. I had never heard of mushroom ketchup before, and was surprised to find that it is nothing like its tomato-based cousin, being much more liquid. I didn’t enjoy the smell of the mushrooms as they were soaking, but I needn’t have worried: the gravy was perhaps the best I have ever tasted. We had the dish a second time two weeks later, and I can imagine it will become a favourite. I must confess to two things, though. I used a dumpling mix, and I decided to forego the luting paste suggested in the book. This is like pastry which you roll into a long strip and press all round the rim of your casserole dish. When you put the lid on, the luting paste seals the dish completely and keeps all the flavours in to make a really rich gravy.

The Good Housekeeping Book also has wonderful sections on shellfish, fish and poultry and game. You could try crispy coated squid, turkey and ham pot pie, lemon and mustard mackerel or boned stuffed chicken.

“The book has everything from a multigrain loaf to parmesan and chive rolls.”

I’m afraid I’m still not big on home-made desserts, although I have followed the book’s recipe for apple and bramble crumble. Some of the photographs look absolutely mouth-watering and I will have to find time to try out the recipes in the future: mochacino ice cream, summer fruit whip, blueberry fritters with apple sauce, maple and nut mille feuilles: there is something for everyone. Or perhaps I should get into cake making; I always used to help my mum make our Christmas cake, and she is probably looking down on me now and wondering why I haven’t tried to make one myself since then. The Good Housekeeping recipe includes dried mango and apricot glaze, but they do allow you to use ready-made almond paste! Having got used to pizza dough, I think the next step is bread making. The book has everything from a multigrain loaf to parmesan and chive rolls.

Apart from the sections I’ve already mentioned, there are recipes for soups, stocks and sauces, eggs and cheese, pies, flans, pasta, cakes, biscuits, preserves and sweets. The introduction includes information on balancing your diet, food shopping, entertaining, choosing wines, and cooking in quantity. Following this is a chapter on herbs, spices and flavourings which contains one or two entries I’d never heard of alongside the more familiar chilli powder or rosemary.

All the recipes in this book give information on how many people this quantity will serve, how many calories per serving, preparation and cooking times, and whether or not the dish can be frozen.

The last few pages are devoted to kitchen equipment – everything from the cooker itself to pots, pans and knives. The checklist includes ramekins, a zester, a couscoussier, a serrated scraper, and a sugar thermometer amongst many other items. It makes me feel I need to stock up on a few things! Following this is a chapter on microwave cooking, then a couple of pages each on food safety and freezing. Finally, just before the index, is a glossary of cooking terms that will define bain-marie, dropping consistency, mandolin or any culinary term you are flummoxed by.

I think I should make a vow to keep this treasure trove of recipes handy in my kitchen and find the time for more and more home-made dishes.

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Good Housekeeping Cookery Book
by Good Housekeeping

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Written by frangliz