I should have mentioned that the recipe for yesterday’s moussaka came from one of my favourite cookbooks The Prawn Cocktail Years by Simon Hopkinson & Lyndsey Bareham. The book performs exactly the job you hope it would from the name, rescuing a bunch of abandoned classics from obscurity and cliche and setting them right. The recipes don’t get a makeover as such, they are just set down as they should be, mistakes ironed out.
It starts with The Great British Meal Out which is just Prawn Cocktail, Steak Garni and Chips followed by Black Forest Gateau. It then moves into The Fifties Hotel Dining Room (including Eggs Mayonnaise, Mixed Grill and Chicken Chasseur), The Gentleman’s Club (Mulligatawny, Shepherds Pie and Toad-in-the-Hole) which could have been boarding school, The Sixties Bistro, The Continental Restaurant and so on.
Even now put me in a good restaurant and I see Prawn Cocktail and Steak and Chips on the menu I am more likely to go for those than anything else. I can remember first eating the combination on smart meals out with Mum & Dad to The Golden Grove in the wilds of the border with Wales just beyond Chester.
I followed the recipe for Prawn Cocktail on a meal for New Years Eve some years ago and it worked perfectly.
The recipe for Moussaka is in the chapter headed The Continental Restaurant and is preceded by Hungarian Beef Goulash and followed Wiener Schnitzel.
I am looking after the kids for a week towards the end of the month and I am going to feed them the recipe for Swedish meatballs to show them things can be done in a way that is not IKEA.
My copy of the book still has its Euro price sticker in the front which means I must have bought it in The Good Things Cafe. You have to wonder why more restaurants don’t sell cookbooks. You have a captive audience, replete after a good lunch and a few glasses of wine only too happy to part with more cash to buy a book to tell them how best to cook some of the food they may have just eaten. It always works for me!