Tag Archives: Delia Smith

Christmas 2009 – how was yours?

Christmas lunch. First course: parmesan custard with anchovy toast, recipe from Café Anglais, executed by my niece, Charlotte.

There was a time when my mother, Fay, good Jewish mother that she is, would insist on cooking every morsel of Christmas fare.

Finally we managed to persuade her we were old enough to take over.

Now we share the cooking.

My sister, Geraldine, cooked the goose reared by wise animal welfare expert, Sheepdrove Organic Farm, which has a shop in Bristol.

From top left clockwise:  the goose, then green bean, cranberry sauce, roast potato, roast parsnips, roast carrots, roast sweet potato, apple sauce and bread sauce.

It sounds bloody grand and it was. A local Big Issue vendor ate nothing on Christmas day, he told me today.

Juliette, eldest niece, cooked all of vegetables including her own concoction, green beans with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint and a little sugar.

I made the tiramisu. None of my books had a recipe but luckily I found Tiramisu Heaven.

Mine did not look like Tiramisu Heaven pic above.

Mine looked splodgy – see below.

Yet it was delicious, if both bread-puddingy and way-creamy. I used less sugar than recipe (3oz instead of 4oz/ 1/2 cup) and brioche instead of ladyfingers. Lots of strong coffee.

I made the tiramisu late-at-night and last-minute. After carefully separating eggs, I made fatal mistake and did to egg whites what should have been done to yolks.

My mum does not use eggs at all. How sensible is that? Just 8oz mascarpone +brandy +  coffee-soaked ladyfingers, sprinkling each creamy-layer with cocoa powder, and topping with rest of coffee-soaked cake.

Geraldine provided an extra treat: mince pies with homemade pastry.

She homemade the mincemeat too: you assemble the fruit and suet, and warm. “Dead simple,” says mincemeat-demystifier, Delia Smith.

This feast was manageable thanks to six of us cooking. I made my dish in advance while others cooked on Christmas day. So division of labour was not equal.

How did you manage Christmas?

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The Delia effect

Small bowl of salad (green leaves, carrots and purple radish sprouts)

When Delia spoke to the masses and decreed the poor can eat battery-farmed chickens, did their sales rise?

The “Delia effect” describes the unprecedented sale of certain ingredients after being recommended by TV cook Delia Smith. Her influence is so vast that “Delia” has entered the dictionary.

I am pleased to report that sales for free-range poultry have soared.

This follows the high-profile campaign on TV’s Channel 4 by two other famous cooks, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver. They called for higher standards of chicken welfare for all concerned, chickens and their eaters alike.

Sales of free-range poultry rose by 35 per cent in January (compared with January 2007) while sales of standard indoor birds fell by 7 per cent, according to market research company TNS. In response, Tesco doubled its order for higher-welfare chickens.

I mentioned what Delia said to my hairdresser.

Sharp intake of breath. “How can it ever be alright to eat a battery-farmed chicken?” she said.

Listen, she is an apprentice hairdresser so it was gratifying to hear being short of cash does not mean skimping on food quality.

Of course, you have to be a bit canny and cook from scratch. But that’s how most people in the world eat, and why so-called peasant food (such as pasta dishes, stews, curries) tastes so good.

Today’s picture is of a salad made by Chloe, with organic leaves, grated carrots and sprouting radish, that accompanied brown rice and lentils with fried onions, mushrooms and egg, that her dad Mike made. (PS the vase may be corporate but the beans were organic).

This princely meal that cost us about £1.50 each. I rest my case.

Couscous cousins

Plate with grated carrots, greens and couscous

Why do people eat pot noodles when there is couscous is in the world? Listen, all you do is pour boiling water over the grains (processed to a teeny size), let five minutes go by while they plump up with water, add olive oil and lo, instant food.

My current top favourite couscous is made from kamut (by Probios) which is good news for all you wheat-sensitive types.

Tonight I added to the couscous, chives (one of the few herbs I can grow as I have pink fingers). I fried onions, mushrooms and chilli, then grated raw carrots (organic of course) and served them with steamed kale and purple sprouting broccoli (cut up quite small).

I made one meal stretch for two unexpected guests, Sarah, my middle daughter, and Juliette, my eldest niece. Juliette, just turned 18, explained how traumatic it was. However she immediately noticed the benefits of being grown up.

How? quizzed Sarah, my daughter the social anthropologist.

Juliette said: “Like. Oh. My. God. I suddenly stopped listening to my story tapes.”

Juliette (pictured) jujudsc10013.jpgwas also disappointed with Delia. “People who are interested in food are just not going to buy Delia. She seems really old fashioned now,” she said.

My mum – the original real food lover empress – is also incensed with Delia for recommending convenience foods while so-called championing the poor. My mother’s letter begins: “Bleeding heart Delia has not done her sums right.”

My mother’s family, immigrants from Russia, lived in the East End of London. They had little on the table and very rarely meat. But they ate well because they knew about food.

Reader, such is my provenance.

Delia Smith for poor food

The TV queen of cookery has displeased me. Delia Smith has made rude remarks in the UK media about something very dear to my real food lover heart: she has dissed organic food.

I am miffed she is using the politics of food to promote her comeback. Delia “retired” six years ago to be director of a football club but now she is back on our screens with a new cookery show.

Her new book, How to Cheat at Cooking, makes a point of using ingredients such as tinned lamb. Look, I have nothing against convenience foods. But she should at least give people correct information so they can make up their own minds.

She said on national radio that organic chickens are expensive (without explaining why) and poor people can eat the caged ones from factory farms.

Delia claims to despise the cult of the celebrity chef but I can’t help feeling she is using her celebrity to seize the People’s Cook crown.

If she really cared about poor people she would have explained how to buy food on a working-class estate. Or how to cook an organic chicken on state benefits by make it last for twelve meals.

You can eat organic on a budget if you cook from scratch. (It’s actually those convenience foods that hike a food bill.)

Instead the People’s Cook is telling people to buy convenience foods from middle-class supermarkets. You’ll be lucky to find a Sainsbury’s in a food desert, Delia.