The prime minister has put Michael Gove in charge of “fixing” Britain’s food supply chains, quipping that he “doesn’t want to have to cancel Christmas again”.
The Times, 15 September
No turkeys for Christmas? Time to stiffen the upper lip, have a drop of that Dunkirk spirit and think how our grandparents managed in the days of austerity.
Given that tasty wartime specialities like whale meat are now probably off the menu, let’s think about some of those recipes that were used during our darkest hour, when we stood alone. With fancy imports restricted because of our blockade of mainland Europe, we aimed for self-sufficiency. Look local for your ingredients! If quantities are limited, think of it as a Brexit benefit that will reduce obesity.
Here are a few recipes that will not use up too many of those coupons in your ration book!
Line a pie dish with pastry and then fill it with potato, onion, some leeks or spinach and a bit of grated cheese. Bake well. Don’t forget, if you don’t have one of the ingredients, improvise with something similar!
This one was named after the then Minister of Food, Lord Woolton, so perhaps it should be updated for the 21st century to celebrate the Cabinet that took us back to the days of wartime austerity. The current Secretary of State for DEFRA is George Eustice so what could be better than a Eustice Pie?
Again, line a pie dish with pastry and this time fill it with a mix of seasonal vegetables, pre-cooked with a bit of oatmeal. The idea is to use anything that you can get hold of, so potatoes, swede, parsnip, cauliflower, carrot and a bit of onion. Don’t forget the carrots as they will help you see in the dark when the power fails. Bake the whole lot until the pastry is brown and serve with gravy.
You might have heard of this referred to in the old days as tortilla española, but now that we have regained our sovereignty we call it potato omelette.
Slice and par-boil some potato, slice and fry some onion, add the potato and a couple of beaten eggs to the pan and leave to cook through gently.
Another good one for improving your eyeight! Cook grated carrots and oatmeal for 5 minutes, wrap in mashed potato and bake for 40 minutes.
Mock brains (no jokes about members of the Cabinet please)
Take some left-over porridge, add flour, egg and onion and form it into a rissole to fry. This way even vegetarians can eat “brains”.
If you are making a stew and need to take the edge off the appetite, how about adding dough balls? Use flour, suet and a little water to make a ball and add it to the stew. That will stick to your ribs!
And how about Yorkshire pudding? Essentially flour, egg and milk mixed into a batter and then baked, it’s great for filling up the family!
For those who must have their meat, this is the time to visit the store cupboard. Don’t count on Spam as that comes from Denmark nowadays [so may never get here. Ed] but there is nothing like a tin of corned beef. Mix it in with some potatoes and vegetables for a proper bully beef hash.
Of course, Christmas dinner would not be complete without Christmas pudding. Try this suggestion from the Ministry of Food, Food Facts No 232.
2 oz. plain flour, ½ level teaspoon baking powder; ½ level teaspoon salt; ¼ level teaspoon grated nutmeg, ¼ level teaspoon salt; ¼ level teaspoon cinnamon; 1 level teaspoon mixed spice; 4 oz suet or fat; 3 oz. sugar; 1 lb. mixed dried fruit; 4 oz. breadcrumbs; 1 level tablespoon marmalade; 2 dried eggs, reconstituted; ¼ pint pale ale, stout or milk. (Enough for 4-5 people).
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices together. Add sugar, fruit, and breadcrumbs and grated suet or melted fat. Mix with the marmalade, eggs and liquid. Mix very thoroughly. Put in a greased basin, 2 pint size. Cover with greased paper and steam for 4 hours. Remove paper and cover with a fresh piece and a clean cloth. Store in a cool place. Steam 2 or 3 hours before serving.
And to wash it down, what better than a cup of Yorkshire tea? Then everything will be tickety-boo. Just like the good old days!