#192 Elizabeth David’s Prawn Paste

In days of yore, we English loved potted meats and fish. You don’t seem to see many potted foodstuffs around these days: though potted beef is still popular in Yorkshire. Pate does not count. This one at first sight seems a bit weird, and perhaps foul, but there are some interesting ingredients in there. One of the great things that Elizabeth David did in the sixties and seventies was introducing us to Mediterranean flavours, and she managed to sneak a few in here: olive oil instead of butter, basil instead of parsley, lime rather than lemon. She transformed our eating habits; along with Grigson, Floyd, et al. of course. It may seem odd these days – all those continental ingredients mashed up in a now-defunct method of preparing meat and fish – but there you go.

Place eight ounces of cooked, peeled prawns in a blender along with the juice of a lime and around six tablespoons of olive oil – use extra virgin if you have it since as it’s not going to be cooked. Blend until smooth and add half a teaspoon of dried basil and a heaped saltspoon (!) of crushed coriander seeds. Season with a little salt and some Cayenne pepper. Divide between some small ramekins, cover and refrigerate. Serve with hot, thin toast.

By the way, I don’t know the capacity of a saltspoon as I don’t own one, so don’t ask me. Actually, I’d not even heard of one. I guessed and added a quarter of a teaspoon. Also, don’t buy dried basil, as it has no flavour; dry your own in a cool oven for about 20 minutes until crumbly: much better.

#192 Elizabeth David’s Prawn Paste. It may have sounded like horrible soggy fish pap, but this was delicious. The prawns were sweet, the olive oil was fruity and the basil and coriander seeds combined with the lime juice provided a morish tang. Really good – go and make some. 7.5/10.

October Food

Here we are in Autumn proper, and although there’s still a decent ‘in season’ list, many of the really summery fruit and veg have started to dwindle. However, there is a plus – the fish and game is on the increase, and I really intend to get through a fair few recipes that involve them. I really wanted to cook eel last month and didn’t get a chance, so that is top of the list. I’m off to a farmers Market in a week or two as well – hopefully I’ll bag me a grouse!

Vegetables: beetroot, borlotti beans, broccoli, cabbages, cardoons, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, courgettes, cucumber, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, peppers and chillies, potatoes, pumpkins and squashes, rocket, salsify, spinach, tomatoes, turnips.

Fruit: apples, grapes, greengages, medlars, pears, quince, raspberries.

Wild greens and herbs: nettles, watercress.

Wild flowers and fruits: bullace, crab apples, damsons, juniper berries, rosehips, rowan berries, sloes

Fungi and nuts: chanterelles, chestnuts, hedgehog fungus, horse mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, parasol mushrooms, puffballs, shaggy inkcap, summer truffles, walnuts, blewits.

Fish and shellfish: cod, crab, eels, lobster, mussels, oyster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, salmon, scallops, sea bass, sprats, squid, trout.

Game: goose, grey squirrel, grouse, hare, mallard, partridge, rabbit, woodpigeon.