Most of us have had cook books given to us, and one I love was presented to me back when I was a penniless and new to England, trying to grasp the fact that I would never understand English English, and coping with its wonderfully weird horizon-opening customs. At this time a friend we’d met in Iran presented me with Poor Cook, Fabulous food for next to nothing [ISBN 10: 1908337133 ISBN 13: 9781908337139 ] by Campbell and Conran. It is full of truly English recipes unsullied by Americanisms. If you are trying to get to grips with the UK, as I was in 1973 (and God bless your attempts), this might crack open the door a little way on the World of English culinary delight.
I still cherish its curling yellow-edged pages, its food-splotched recipes. Why? The instructions are simple and easy to follow. Better yet, my friend Anne, the donor, has written her comments on certain recipes. When I see “v. tasty” or “delicious hot, then we ate the beef cold, v tender” it gives me a clue to what I’m cooking. Besides, her distinctive hand writing reminds me of our long standing friendship.
I’ve just checked online. The book is still available second hand.
Here’s its achingly simple toffee sauce for vanilla ice cream. I’ve adjusted the measurements so that all are by volume. That means you can multiply the amounts by whatever container you choose. I suppose you could make gallons of the stuff at a time. But this one here will generously lavish its golden beauty on four bowls of ice cream.
In a small saucepan mix together: 1 tablespoon butter, 8 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons golden syrup, and 4 tablespoons thick cream. Heat gently until all is melted, but not boiling. Serve hot. When the sauce hits the ice cream it thickens into a stretchy, mouth-wateringly gooey sauce. Wonderful.
A note about golden syrup. This is gloriously rich and, er, golden. It’s delicious. Probably more British than even I am aware. As a child in a boarding school in India we used to mix it with hot chocolate granules and eat it by the spoonful. If you live in an area impoverished of golden syrup (ahhhh, poor you) you can use corn syrup and add a smidgeon of vanilla to pep it up.
Happy New year to all — may it be a year blessed with new discovery!