Marguerite Patten is surely the most celebrated cook and food writer in Britain. She is probably the most respected by her fellow professionals, who would all be familiar with her recipes, skill and passion for food. Marguerite serves as a model for those who truly care about British cooking. She remains an icon because her work is solid and she has paid her dues at the altar of hard work.
This is a collection of, as the lady says, the Best British Dishes and there are over 400 of them. I am sure the cynics will be surprised at that number but we have outstanding food within these isles. This amazing lady has penned over 170 books which have mostly concentrated on traditional dishes. It’s thanks to her that there are still chefs and cooks who are not ashamed to present a home-grown bill of fare.
Best British Dishes has classic recipes. They are not dull and flavourless as the aficionados of all things foreign would suggest. We have a history of using spices and strong condiments such as mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Our vegetables can be good quality and we have an amazing choice of cheeses which feature to good effect in this volume.
It’s difficult to pick favourite dishes from this book. There is so much here that transports me to my own first attempts at cooking. Cornish Splits are sweet rolls filled with clotted cream and jam. These make a lovely alternative to scones for a traditional afternoon tea. Eccles Cakes are another delicious treat which dates back to the reign of Elizabeth I and probably before. These are a cross between a pie and a cake and I think they are quite unique, as is Bread Pudding. This is the old-fashioned Bread Pudding (rather than the much lighter Bread and Butter Pudding more frequently offered today) which is rib-sticking and substantial and often baked by my grandmother who had a large brood of ever-hungry children to feed.
Marguerite will be introducing a new generation to the delights of home-made Cornish Pasties, real Lancashire Hotpot, Black Pudding with Apples (that’s a “must try”), Beef Wellington (expensive but memorable), Kedgeree for breakfast, and Fish Cakes which are elevated to near-luxury when made with salmon. I could go on but suffice it to say Best British Dishes is a veritable treasury of temping foods that seem to be sadly overlooked these days.
Jamie Oliver says “What a wonderful book that celebrates the fantastic, historical diversity of cooking in Britain.” Best British Dishes is a book typical of the charm and quality of Marguerite Patten’s writing. One of the best British cookbooks around. Delightful!
Best British Dishes
Author: Marguerite Patten
Published by: Grub Street
Price: £25.00 (hardback) ISBN 978-1-906502-23-2
Price: £14.99 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-906502-89-8
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018