IT IS a distinction for a
priest's death to be recorded under his name in the Index to the
Church Times. It a greater distinction, however, if he
appears under a nom de plume; for it means that he must
have been a household word to our readers.
Such was the fate of
"Henri", lone Church Times cookery contributor, week in,
week out, for 17 years, from the tail end of rationing until that
of the increasingly affluent 1960s.
Indeed, his identity had
not been revealed until 1965, when, owing to ill-health, Henri -
the Revd Stanley Longworth - was about to leave his
"well-instructed" rural congregation for the sea air of
At the outset, anonymity
may have had something to do with the dignity of a priest's
calling. Cookery was not widely viewed as a recreation; and it was
still the era when an Anglican priest might well have a
housekeeper, if he had no wife, to look after him. If it was known
that he had time to ice a sponge, wouldn't the archdeacon want to
inspect the registers?
A FRENCH pseudonym had a
suitable cachet, of course; but by 1965 an unmarried priest might
well have had to cook for himself. So Fr Longworth was ripe to be
flushed out; and his photo featured in the "Portraits of
"Picture the long grass
rippling under the onslaught of the cold East Riding wind in an
overgrown vicarage garden. In the rambling house, in a large
old-fashioned kitchen, a priestly figure ministers at the stove. He
is making a delicious raspberry flan. He is 'Henri' of the
Church Times," ran the item.
"The hour has come to
reveal his identity: not a Frenchman; not a woman in disguise; but
the Rev. Stanley Longworth, Vicar of Swine, near Hull. . .
"Cooking and bee-keeping
are the Vicar's hobbies, but he has not put all his art into them.
He is a wonderful parish priest - the present Archbishop of
Canterbury has commended his pastoralia as well as his pastry. .
"He learnt his job the
hard way and the thorough way under Fr Dilworth Harrison at Ringley
in Lancashire. . . And then he went to Central Africa for another
three years' hard, returning to Thornaby-on-Tees, where the work
that he did in the years of depression still lives.
"From there he moved into
the slums of Hull to re-open a derelict church - old St Bart's -
which had been closed for 14 years. It was just like a shell, with
no furniture or anything; so with the help of unemployed dock
labourers, he worked day and night to get it going."
In the midst of all this
urban toil, Fr Longworth was rushed into hospital and told that he
had arthritis of the spine; and so he went reluctantly into the
country. Before Swine, he looked after Scawton for 20 years. "The
sound teaching and pastoral care are things unseen but known and
This portrait was by Alan
Shadwick, another northerner, who, in 1970, paid the last tribute:
"I shall always think of him over a hot-pot or potato pie - not
that you ever get the latter in the South of England unless you
make it yourself. Naturally the northern dishes were his forte, and
his standards were not too high for me."
Henri's standards were
not high enough for all. At the Church Times's 125th
anniversary in 1988, Margaret Duggan recalled a recipe involving
tinned salmon, white sauce, and cream crackers, and commented: "I
am afraid that he never did much for my family's diet."
IN SEPTEMBER 1969, when
Henri's last recipes appeared, they were stuffed marrow, kedgeree,
"fish-with-spuds", and damson conserve. To put this in context,
Graham Kerr had just begun his popular TV series The Galloping
Gourmet - sloshing cream, red wine, and clarified butter about
column had looked promising enough for Mowbray's to publish, in
1960, Seasonal Fare: Economical recipes contributed to the
In a foreword, Bishop
Philip Wheeldon of Whitby had written: "Three Archbishops and four
Bishops have eaten at Henri's Board. They have known and enjoyed
the real Henri. It is one thing to have been introduced to Henri
through his recipes, and another to see the happiness he finds in
putting his recipes on the table for you as a finished article -
each dish a finished work of art."
The curtain-raiser in the
book was tomato soup - a recipe that promised to make six pints
econom- ically, using one large tin of Italian tomatoes.
First, "Buy a sheep's
head, complete with tongue and brains. Wash it well in cold water,
seeing that all the passages are cleaned out. . . Simmer it gently.
. . When the head is cool enough, remove the tongue and skin it.
This, along with slices of meat cut from the cheeks, should be put
aside and used when cold for those round-the-fire sandwiches. . .
If you want extra nourishment, use 2 sheep's heads. Two heads are
always better than one - even if only sheep's!"
A hare was economical,
too - in 1960, one was 7s. - but it was similarly not for
the squeamish. "Skin and clean the hare, reserving the blood in a
basin. Do not bother with the head. Chop that off, and throw it
away with the skin. . ."
In contrast, however, at
the mention of mushrooms, Henri was treading on eggshells. "Do you
like mushrooms? An acquired taste, certainly, but how well worth
the acquiring. For a good deal of the year they are rather
expensive, but a ¼ pound can be made to go a long way. . ."
That's right, Father.
Don't terrorise us with mushroom soup, when offal is the key to
domestic economy: "With your finger scoop out any blood clots from
the cavities . . ." (Sheep's Hearts).
YET Henri could be before
his time. By 1960, he already stretched to Spaghetti Bolognese - a
dish that had to wait until 1962, and the eve of the Second Vatican
Council, to be featured by Robert Carrier in the Sunday
And, unlike Carrier,
Henri used garlic - but with a warning for Anglican innocents: "If
you have not used garlic before, remember that a clove of garlic is
one of the small knobs inside the outer skin." Moreover,
dietary discipline still applied: "If it is a day of abstinence, do
the whole recipe - omitting the minced beef."
A whole section was
devoted to maigre dishes, in fact, and one or two seem
very maigre indeed. A "nice supper dish" of Cheese
Meringues looks fairly light on cheese, but at least they are
Many of the dishes would
strike younger readers today as impossibly time-consuming (but then
so would many recipes demonstrated by today's celebrity chefs).
Henri did not expect Church Times readers, some of whom
still wrestled with variable stipends in large and draughty
parsonages, to be armed with the kind of labour-saving electric
gadgets that Marguerite Patten had demonstrated in Harrods. "No
kitchen is complete without a flan tin," Henri advises modestly.
Chocolate soufflé? "I hope you possess a rotary whisk."
But perhaps Church
Times cooks had more time on their hands than people have now
- and gave things a little more forethought. "For the bachelor with
only a gas ring to perform on!", a Quick Snack begins: "The day
before you want your snack, buy a small fillet of fresh haddock. .
." It would have to be fresh, because the bachelor was unlikely to
own a refrigerator.
And a section on "T.V.
Tray Snacks" shows that the couch-potato diet was just around the
corner. Henri acquiesced in this trend - eventually to prove fatal
to more than just Sunday evensong - by suggesting Bacon Rolls.
"Television is driving more and more people to have hand-round
snacks instead of a sit-down supper. For those who like it that
way, here is a recipe that might help." It did, however, involve
the exertion of making some shortcrust pastry (which, from the
obesity point of view, is better than flaky or puff).
BUT the most conspicuous
feature of Henri's cookery is that the pudding is still king:
Rhubago, Hot Pineapple Sweet, Apples in Batter, Angel's Breath (for
Michaelmas), Norwegian Cream, Lemon Meringue Pie, German Pudding -
to name just a few.
Henri was aware of the
hazards, however: "No doubt you have had [Summer Pudding] served to
you at some time or other - so solid and mountainous - that you
never wanted it again. The reason for that is that usually people
put in too much bread."
Afternoon tea was still
an institution; and you might do well to call on the Rector, rather
than he on you: Date and Walnut Loaf, Lighting Chocolate Cake,
Orange Cake, Russian Sandwich, Kensington Cake, Simnel Cake, Yule
Bread . . . and: "For the month of May, we must have Mary Buns" (a
variant on fairy cakes).
His sandwich ideas are
inclined to austerity ("Left-over cold mashed potatoes can be used
by moistening them well with mayonnaise and finely chopped chives,
or the green part of a spring onion"); but, in lieu of his
"delicious raspberry flan", for which I cannot find a specific
recipe, I offer you this selection.
Here is something worthy of
St Francis. It is quite economical, easily made, and delicious. Its
colour is that of a Franciscan habit. It will keep fresh for about
two weeks. Cut in thin slices with just a smearing of butter.
½ lb sultanas
½ lb currants
½ lb Demerara sugar ½ pt plus three tablespoonfuls of
cold strong tea (without sugar and milk, of course)
1 lb self-raising flour
1 level teaspoonful mixed spice
2 oz chopped mixed peel
Put the sugar, fruit, and
cold tea into a bowl, and leave overnight. Next day add the
well-beaten egg, candied peel, and spice. Gradually sift in the
flour, and mix well. Put into 2 well-greased 1 lb loaf tins and
bake in a moderate oven for about 2 hours. Turn out on a wire rack
Cut up 1 lb of lean
stewing-steak into small pieces. Put it into the dish with a cut-up
small onion. Well cover with cold water, and season with pepper and
salt. Put a fire-proof plate over the top and cook gently in a
moderate oven till tender.
When the meat is cooked,
fill up the dish with potatoes cut up into small pieces. Stir it up
to distribute the meat and potatoes evenly, and return to the oven.
When the potatoes have softened, remove from the oven, and allow to
cool a little.
Make a crust of short
pastry, using 6 oz of self-raising flour, 1½ oz of lard, 1½ oz of
margarine, a pinch of salt, and a little cold water to mix. Roll
out about ½ inch thick. Grease the edge of the pie dish, and put a
ring of pastry round. Moisten the pastry with cold water and put on
the crust, pressing the edges firmly together. Make a small hole in
the middle. Lightly brush over with milk, and bake in a fairly hot
oven until faintly brown - about 30 minutes.
Serve with pickled red
cabbage or beetroot.
Ask your butcher for a small
piece - roughly 4 or 5 oz - of "melt". He may know it by some other
name - lungs, for instance. Cook this whole in with the meat and
remove before adding the potatoes. It helps to make a rich gravy,
but must not be eaten.
Cut up a stale sponge-cake
into cubes, and place the pieces evenly over the bottom of an
entrée dish. Pour over this the syrup from a tin of apricots, and
allow it to soak well in. Arrange the apricot halves on top,
rounded sides upwards. Use about 15 pieces of apricot - though, of
course, this will depend on the size of your entrée dish - leaving
a small space between the pieces. A dish about 10 inches by 8 is a
good size to use.
Make a white sauce with 2½
level teaspoonfuls of cornflour, ½ pint milk, 2 dessertspoonfuls of
sugar, and small knob of margarine. Pour this carefully in
spoonfuls over the apricots and sponge, until the whole is thinly
coated. A drop or two of almond essence may be added to the sauce
if desired. Leave to set and serve cold. The finished product has
the appearance of poached eggs, and will keep the children