* Prices may differ from that shown
This cook book is one that has been on my cook book shelf for many years since I first bought it back in the late 1990's. Whilst it is not an everyday cook book of mine it is one I always go back to especially in winter when some of the traditional hearty recipes are especially appealing.
For those of you who don't remember the "Two fat Ladies" from the TV series in the 90's they are Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright. Sadly Jennifer Paterson is no longer alive but at the times these two ladies were the opposite of the healthy thin brigade and cooked with full cream, butter and are very posh though they had none of the airs and graces that you seem in some celebrity chefs nowadays. Jenifer's background was as a food writer and Clarissa was a professional cook and food writer too. The TV series saw them travelling the country on an old fashioned motorcycle and side car and cooking for various occasions and was full of fun laughter and great recipes for which this book was the accompanying guide.
The book is divided into 7 sections the first tells the story from the point of view of the TV series producer about the two ladies and how the series came about it is definitely is worth a read as it makes me chuckle. The next sections are not really arranged in any order but are Fish and shellfish, meat and Poultry, Cakes and baking, Fruit and Vegetables, Game and finally Food in the wild. At the start of each section there are a few pages by either Jennifer or Clarissa telling you about the type of food, buying tips about what to look for and some interesting anecdote about their history such as gather shrimps on holiday. I personally re read these periodically as they are interesting to read and do remind me of what to look for in say game when buying it as this is not something that features often in my cooking. Also each recipe is preceded by a couple of lines about the history of the recipe where is comes from and acknowledging if the recipe has been given to them by someone in the past.
Fish and shellfish
There is a good selection of fish recipes here from the striking center piece called Trafalgar Salmon to a rather more modest Mackerel run. What I like is there is a huge variety of fish involved from the nice and cheap mackerel to the more expensive halibut. All the recipes I have cooked so far have worked out with the amounts given and have proved popular.
Meat and poultry
There is again a good selection of beef pork lamb and chicken and duck recipes. The pork stroganoff especially is a recipe I go back to time and time again due to its simplistic cooking that is exquisite to taste with interestingly gin instead of a more traditional vodka or similar for the alcohol. There is also a great slow roast shoulder recipe that is prefect I find for popping into the oven before going out for a wintry walk and is there for when you come back just to eat with some green beans and a nice loaf of crusty bread. The two ladies have it right in that the lamb is so tender it just falls of the bone. Again this recipe is simple with very little by way of faffing around so is great dish to make on days when you are short of time.
Cakes and baking
This section is prefect if you want a great cake of afternoon teas or a celebration as there is a delicious devil's food cake or a walnut and coffee cake. The recipes are again written in a simple straight forward way that is easy to understand and follow. A couple of the recipes are also ideal for desserts such as the orange fool or lemon roulade. I don't use these as often as other parts of the cook book not because I don't like them but that I personally am a better cook than a baker.
Fruit and vegetables
Mostly of these are side dishes that are great accompaniments to the some of the main meals in the book but there are also a few soup recipes too and a simple desert recipes such as melon and raspberries. Not all of the dishes look pretty and some are good basic recipes that are great to have such as a bubble and squeak recipe that is straight forward and easy to do and a great dish for using left overs. My favourite in this section is the beetroot gratin which is a great dish to eat even if the presentation with its pink and red creamy sauce looks like something out of a CSI's crime scene.
This section contains everything from Rabbit to grouse and even a recipe for Jugged hare. These in our house are the thing of treats or if we get given a brace of grouse occasionally a source of inspiration to go to. They are not for me a regular part of my cooking routine but it is a good go too section if some game comes our way and is an invaluable reference guide I find as it tells me what to look for and what to do with this food that is more unusual for me to cook. The one that always goes down well is the venison with blackberries a great combination that sums up some of the joys of autumn days. The roast grouse recipe I find is fabulous at stopping these often dry birds becoming dry and disappointing and instead they are often surprisingly moist and tender to eat cooked the way suggested.
Cooking in the wild
This section I think is best summed up as part Ray Mears survival cooking with wild mushroom pancakes. To the I really need a butler and servants to do this Luau, which is cooking in a fire pit. I have to admit never doing the luau or the roasting a full beast on a spit in this section and I think there inclusion is great to show you perhaps what is possible if you are planning a huge party in an area with grounds. The recipes in this section that provide the most use are the salads that are great unusual recipes for livening up picnics or summer salads I find.
This is a great cook book that though it is not full of everyday recipes is a great go to guide for some more unusual dishes for special occasions. However rather than being just a dinner party cook book there is also included some great ways of cooking with cheaper ingredients such as mackerel that mean I find it a useful book for some money saving tasty recipes. The style of writing is definitely casual and informal with lots of anecdotes and you can literally hear the two ladies clipped vowels coming through the book. This style may not appeal to everyone but I find it as amusing and enjoyable as I did the series. Whilst the recipe book contains lots of recipes with cream, butter and other frowned upon ingredients in this olive oil no saturated fat days a lot of the recipes are actually I think not bad for you using fresh oily fish, seasonal fruit and vegetables. I don't think you could cook from this book for everyday but you can make some delicious meals. I have yet to have a recipe fail on me from their qualities used and suggested cooking times and this to me is invaluable in a recipe book as I have found with some newer books the recipes just don't always work as the qualities or times just are not correct for example some recipes found in Jamie Oliver's books. This book is no longer readily available in current print but is available second hand from 1 penny on Amazon marketplace and I think this is great value at this price and a must for some different recipes and inspiration.
* Hardcover: 192 pages
* Publisher: Ebury Press; TV Tie-in edition (3 Oct 1996)
* Language English
* ISBN-10: 0091827930
* ISBN-13: 978-0091827939