Delia Smith is the queen of british food. Most people in Britain turn to her books when in doubt about the necessary ingredients for a recipe. If I need to refer to a recipe for a dish I am creating, the first person I google to see their recipe is Delia. Any recipe I follow of hers turns out perfect. Always a safe bet.
I want to make a typical British meal for friends. This would be my menu choice. The starter would be Prawn cocktail for a light fish taste, Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding as a main course, if it is a Sunday, otherwise Shepherd’s pie, my desert would be a bread and butter pudding. Let’s pretend my guests have never been to England, therefore I want to make sure my dishes are quintessentially British. My immediate reaction would be to google Delia. Let’s see how she does it.
Prawn Cocktail – taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.
“This recipe is part of my 1960s revival menu. In those days it used to be something simple but really luscious, yet over the years it has suffered from some very poor adaptations, not least watery prawns and inferior sauces. So here, in all its former glory, is a starter quite definitely for the new millennium!
2 lb (900 g) large prawns in their shells (see recipe)
1 crisp-hearted lettuce, such as Cos
1 oz (25 g) arugula
1 ripe but firm avocado
1 whole lime, divided into 6 wedge-shaped sections
For the sauce:
1 quantity of mayonnaise
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
a few drops Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (preferably organic)
1 dessertspoon lime juice
The very best version of this is made with prawns (either fresh or frozen in their shells) that you have cooked yourself. Failing that, buy the large cooked prawns in their shells, or if you can only get shelled prawns cut the amount to 1 lb (450 g). To prepare them: if frozen put them in a colander and allow to defrost thoroughly at room temperature for about 1 hour. After that, if using uncooked prawns, heat a large solid frying pan or wok and dry-fry the prawns for 4-5 minutes until the grey turns a vibrant pink. As soon as they’re cool, reserve 6 in their shells for a garnish and peel the remainder. Then take a small sharp knife, make a cut along the back of each peeled prawn and remove any black thread. Place them in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed. To make the cocktail sauce, prepare the mayonnaise and add it to the rest of the sauce ingredients. Stir and taste to check the seasoning, then keep the sauce covered with clingfilm in the fridge until needed. When you are ready to serve, shred the lettuce and rocket fairly finely and divide them between 6 stemmed glasses, then peel and chop the avocado into small dice and scatter this in each glass amongst the lettuce. Top with the prawns and the sauce, sprinkle a dusting of cayenne pepper on top and garnish with 1 section of lime and 1 unpeeled prawn per glass. Serve with brown bread and butter.”
Easily done and left in the fridge ready for the guests arrival. I now move on to the main course:
Let’s see how Delia makes her yorkshires.
Yorkshire Pudding taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Christmas. It has also appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (Nov 1993).
“A classic Yorkshire pudding is not difficult to make provided you have the right recipe, the right size tin and the right oven temperature. I find a good solid roasting tin 11 x 7 inches (28 x 18 cm) makes a perfect pud for four people. So, for eight, I double the ingredients and use two tins.
3 oz (75 g) plain flour
3 fl oz (75 ml) milk
2 fl oz (55 ml) water
2 tablespoons beef dripping
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Make up the batter by sifting the flour into a bowl and making a well in the centre. Break the egg into it and beat, gradually incorporating the flour, and then beat in the milk, 2 fl oz (50 ml) water and seasoning (an electric hand whisk will do this in seconds). There is no need to leave the batter to stand, so make it when you’re ready to cook the pudding. About 15 minutes before the beef is due to come out of the oven, increase the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C), add the dripping to the roasting tin and place that on a baking sheet on a free shelf. After 15 minutes remove the meat, then place the tin over direct heat while you pour the batter into the sizzling hot fat. Return the tin to the baking sheet on the highest shelf (or, if you have roast potatoes on that one, the second highest). The pudding will take 25-30 minutes to rise and become crisp and golden. Serve as soon as possible: if it has to wait around too long it loses its crunchiness.”
Perfect, this Sunday meal has been so easy. I am not going to tell you how to do your beef because everyone has their own preference. However, I make excellent roast potatoes. I peel my potatoes, cut them up into the size of golf balls, place in boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain out the water, put the lid on the pots and shake around. Add to a roasting pan with a little of the boiled water and olive oil + salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees until crispy – about 1 hour. I use bisto gravy and serve the beef with mustard and creamed horseradish. My favorite vegetables with this roast is cauliflower, carrots and peas.
Ordinarily I make Jamie Oliver’s Summer apple and blackberry crumble with bird’s custard. But today I want to try something different. Let’s hope Delia has a bread and butter pudding on hand.
After browsing her recipe I would look elsewhere because it doesn’t tickle my fancy. But just for today I am going to stick to a Delia day.
Rich Bread and Butter Pudding taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course.
“Never fear if you have some stale bread that needs using up. This is a light delicious pudding with a lovely dark toasted nutmeg crust.
8 slices bread (from a small loaf)
approximately 2 oz (50 g) butter
½ oz (10 g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped
2 oz (50 g) currants
10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
2½ fl oz (60 ml) double cream
2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
grated zest ½ small lemon
freshly grated nutmeg
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
You will need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) enamel baking dish (one of the oblong kind), well buttered.
Butter the bread and cut each slice of buttered bread in half – leaving the crusts on. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants.
Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the caster sugar and lemon zest, then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg, and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm.
After a full helping of each course you will need to lounge on the sofa and watch an old black and white war movie on the television. This was the weekly prerequisite after our delicious Sunday lunch.