IF YOU enjoy a cookery book that appeals to both memory and the
imagination, Ambrose Heath's The Country Life Cookery
Book, first published in 1937 and now reprinted (Persephone
Books, £14 (CT Bookshop £12.60)), is a treat.
It has delightful wood engravings by Eric Ravilious, and takes
the reader month by month through the year. Heath was a journalist
before specialising in cookery, and introduces each month with a
discussion of what might be sown in the vegetable garden for good
eating later in the year.
If you want step-by-step instructions and a list of ingredients
with precise measurements, this is not going to tempt your palate,
but if you love to read a cookery book in the bath, love simple,
seasonal ingredients, and know a batter from a béchamel, this is
There are plenty of recipes for pancakes, and a few for Lent; so
here, in Heath's words, are a few ideas for Shrove Tuesday.
Spinach pancakes make an excellent
accompaniment to meat dishes. Shred and parboil some spinach, and
finish cooking it, until it is dry, in a little butter. Season with
pepper and salt, and a touch of nutmeg, and mix with an equal
amount of the kind of batter used for making Yorkshire pudding.
Bake in little moulds, and serve with veal, beef, or ham. The
appearance of the pancakes is improved if the spinach is
For Crêpes panachés, cream 50g (2 oz) of butter
with 50g (2 oz) of caster sugar, beat in two eggs, and stir in
lightly 50g (2 oz) of flour. Add 285ml (½ pt) of warmed milk, and
don't be upset if it appears to curdle slightly, because it
Beat well, and leave covered for an hour. Then butter half a
dozen small plates [for "plates" you could use pre-heated sandwich
tins]. Divide the batter between them, and bake them quickly until
the batter rises, and then more slowly for about ten minutes. Put
one on your dish and spread it with hot jam, and do the same to the
other four, each with a different jam, leaving one for the top
covering. Dust with fine sugar, and serve very hot. Choose your
jams as you wish, but I suggest that guava jelly might be one of
Prawn pancakes are delicious. Get a tin or
glass of prawns or shrimps*, and toss them in a little butter to
heat them well through. Bind them with a little cream, or a thick
white sauce made with milk and fish stock. Season with pepper and
salt, and add a few drops of onion juice or chopped chives.
Make some thin pancakes, unsweetened, stuff them with this
mixture, roll them up, arrange them on a long dish, sprinkle them
with a little cream, or butter, and grated cheese, and brown very
quickly. (If the prawns are large ones, they had better be cut up
*I wondered whether "tin or glass" were old-fashioned
measures particular to prawns. I finally decided that Heath simply
meant a small tin, or a wine-glass measure, of prawns, but as the
quantities are vague, I would reckon on using about 100g (3½ oz) of
prawns per person.