Wednesday, 11 March 2015

12: Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book- Cooking the Books

Starter:     Scallops au Gratin

Main:        Chicken Pilaff

Dessert:    Vanilla Slices


This has been a ‘home’ family favourite for years, particularly the orange chicken tarragon recipe, but I can no longer source frozen concentrated orange juice! Sainsbury's used to sell it many, many years ago but, alas, no more. And neither does anywhere else, so if you have an alternative, please comment below and let me know, or bring me back some from the US or Australia!


When I flicked through the preface in the book, I was rather surprised! Staring back at me was a much younger, but still very recognisable Mary Berry! She has created many of the recipes inside, and the starter and main I have chosen are both hers. From the three chefs, she’s the only name I recognise!Also, just for a giggle, I’ve included some of the original photos and recipes, many of which simply combine ingredients, rather than require any cooking. Not sure they’re recipe ideas which I’ll be trying any time soon: cold chicken smothered in mayonnaise, jellied turkey with mandarins, and stripy–tie salmon!








Starter: Scallops au Gratin

Easiness: 8/10

Taste: 4/10

Make again: 2/10

Cheats & Changes: no quantities, pan fried scallops, own cheese sauce!

I admit it … I  didn’t follow this recipe at all. I looked at it and made the components in my own way. It’s a very old fashioned scallops au gratin with a cheese sauce served in the shell. It is suggested that you cook the scallops in milk first but to add flavour, I browned mine in a frying pan. Pop one in each scallop shell. Make a cheese sauce – a roux béchamel with added cheese, pour over the top. Sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs over the top and pop under a hot grill till bubbling.


Let’s just say, there are better ways to eat scallops where the gentle, sweet flavours aren’t masked by a thick, gloopy cheese sauce. I’d suggest trying these recipes instead: Scallops on Leek Puree, Scallops with Chorizo & Minted Pea Puree, Seafood Linguine


Main: Chicken Pilaff

Easiness: 6/10 – lots of chopping

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 8/10

Cheats & Changes: none

I haven’t even bothered searching for this recipe online, so will abbreviate it here!


Fry of your chicken joints until browned, then cover and leave to cook on the hob for 20 minutes. Remove from pan. Add chopped onion, celery and peppers. Fry until they are soft, add rice and fry for a further few minutes. Pour in water chopped tomatoes, stock cube, garlic, curry powder, mixed herbs and chilli powder, bring to the boil, stir, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Fry mushrooms, then stir everything together and add a handful of frozen peas. Reheat till everything is hot.


In terms of spices, add what you like, I didn’t add more than a teaspoon of anything, but it depends on the heat of your powders. To serve four, use 4 joints, 8oz long grain rice, 8oz can tomatoes, 1.25 pints water. Again, once you’ve done the chopping, it’s really easy. I put the mushrooms in the with the chicken at the beginning rather than dong after and added the herbs, pieces, stock and tomatoes to the water in one jug so it was all ready to just pour in.


In theses times, I used a basmati rice which needed a much shorted cooking time, so make sure the veg are cooked to your liking before you add the rice. This was really tasty though and I’d make it again with ‘bottom of the fridge’ ingredients as you can throw in any leftovers that need using.

Dessert: Vanilla Slices

Easiness: 8/10

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 4/10

Cheats & Changes: none

DSC_0535 (2)

This is really easy, and is definitely a more English version cream cake than a French. Crème Anglaise (custard) version of Mille Feuille. Cut your shop bought, ready rolled puff pastry into 3x12 inch strips, place on a damp baking tray in a hot oven until well risen. Allow to cool. Mix icing sugar with water until it a coating consistency and colour it whatever colour you fancy. Spread one slice of pastry with jam, the other with icing sugar coating. Spread whipped cream, flavoured with vanilla, over the jammy one, top with the icing coated one and cut into slices.

DSC_0547 (2)

I found that I cut narrow strips, which meant the pastry really did rise, leaving me with a little problem when it came to jamming and creaming them! If I’d have stuck to the recipe's measurements, I think they’d have ended up a little flatter. My own suggestion would be to cook one as per the recipe for the top, but the bottom layer cooked under a tin – place a piece of greaseproof paper then a roasting tin on top of the pastry and cook for slightly longer to ensure a crisp, flaky but flat base on which to layer the jam and cream.

They were delicious, but rather fiddly to ‘build’. I’d have preferred it without the jam, but you could always change the flavour. Maybe use a lemon curd instead of the jam and add some grated zest to the icing on top?

So the ideas are a little out-dated, and generally, the presentation is hideous, BUT, many of these recipes work and are great stand-by classics, The pilaff was great, and if I can ever find a frozen can of concentrated orange juice again, I’m sure the chicken tarragon will be a regular favourite.


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Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Merlotti x

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