Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Random Recipes - Wartime Stuffed Carrots

This months Random Recipe theme from Belleau Kitchen was a DIY based idea - you could pick the book yourself to choose your recipe from.  I immediately got my selection of slightly more 'historical' books out.  I find these fascinating not just for the recipes (and the veg cooking times - my god the horror!) but also as a social commentary of the time. 
One of these is a little more tongue in cheek - 'Mrs Cook's book of recipes' professes to be dishes that an 18th century sailor may have been familiar with but I'm not entirely sure some of it isn't a bit less than genuine.  Anyway, having already discarded the 1940 Be-Ro book that I inherited from my gran's kitchen (a famously poor cook according to my mother) I opened 'Mrs Cook's' at random.  Otter Meat.  Seriously. 
Perhaps my 1939 copy of 'Cooking with Elizabeth Craig' could be of more help?  I ruffled the pages past and... Roast Capercailzie.  Eh?  Besides a very vague knowledge that this is a bird of some kind I was a bit lost.  Was there a more helpful recipe on the facing page?  It's... Roast Blackcock.  Er no, not really more helpful then. 
Perhaps this idea of mine to use these old books wasn't so hot as it seemed like I wasn't going to be able to get the ingredients?
I hadn't even opened my 1968 version of the classic 1932 'Good Things in England' yet - a fantastic book where Florence White, on becoming concerned that many regional specialities were being lost set up the English Folk Cookery Association and collected them into this book.  It's available as a reprint now and fab.  However I'm well aware it includes things like 'Rook Pie' and recipes for Elvers (Baby Eels) and I'm thinking I'm doomed!
Then the Chap pipes up - "where's that war one?  By that woman?"  By this I know he means the 'Health For All Wartime Recipes' book.  This is written by one Margaret Y. Brady who was a 'diet reformer' ie vegetarian back then.  She comes across as somewhat crusading, didactic and a leetle bit of a scary lady.  The Chap as a confirmed carnivore finds her hilarious and quickly plucks the book from me to open and laugh at what he finds within.  'Stuffed carrots' he chortles to himself, unwittingly having just picked my random recipe.  So - stuffed carrots it is!
Scrape out the insides of your carrots - I carefully picked some monsters to use for this.  Mix breadcrumbs, finely chopped onion, fresh herbs, a little grated cheese and one egg - 'made up' the recipe states. 
Thankfully I can use fresh.  I also added some salt and pepper then dotted with butter and baked for the requisite 45 minutes. 
Well - it is what it is.  Eggy bready filling baked in a carrot.  There was a lack of flavour in the stuffing despite me 'accidentally' doubling the cheese included.  The herbs came through but I think as a concept dropping the bread and using some mushrooms in a wine and red onion reduction or something along those lines would be better.  Also depending how soft you like your veg I'd be inclined to drop at least 15 minutes off the cooking time.  It's a cheap recipe to make but actually TBH I'd be inclined to just not make it again really.  Oh - and carving the insides of your carrots out is a right old faff.  If you should wish to try something like this use a knife you (or in fact the Chap) has broken the tip off of as this helps as a digging out tool.  Or possibly a chisel.  :-)
So - this random recipe was edible but not really massively appealing.  It has renewed my interest in trying out some of these old recipes though.  Possibly not the otter meat one however...

6 comments:

  1. All that effort for very little reward, well done for trying though. I'd have just roasted everything with oil and spices, much easier and tastier.

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    1. Ah - but then it wouldn't be the random recipe!! I know what you mean though. :-)

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  2. Fantastic recipe, although I'm not sure that I'll be making it any time soon. I love the idea of attacking a carrot with a chisel. Thanks for the reminder about Florence White - I haven't heard that name for years.

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    1. I must admit carving the carrots ticked my crafting box.
      I love the Florence White book. Persephone books have reprinted it, well worth the cash IMO. :-)

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  3. Oh, this is great. I just showed it to my husband in a "see how lucky you are" way - "This is what someone else had to cook. Stuffed carrots!" I think you must be more skilled with a knife/chisel than me if this ended without a trip to A&E.

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    1. There were some hairy moments!! :-)

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