The Layout of the Book

For those of you unfamiliar with the book English Food by Jane Grigson, I thought I’d put up a little post about the layout of the book.

My copy is a third edition published in 1992. Jane passed away during the edit of this final version, leaving her daughter Sophie – an acclaimed food writer in her own right – to complete it. The first edition was published in 1974.

The book has a total of 450 recipes and as I write this, the last recipe to be cooked was #436 Worcestershire Pear Soufflé, which means that I have only 14 recipes to go. Scroll down and you’ll find a breakdown of the book.

The 450 recipes are split into eight chapters and some of those are split further into sub-chapters, sometimes by me, sometimes by Jane. As you’llsee, most of the chapters have been completed now. Click on the hyperlinks to see all the recipes and chapter reviews for different sections of the book. There is a phenomenal amount of ground covered, so please have a good nosey. You’ll notice how my writing gets worse as you scroll down the lists and travel backwards in time!

Jane and Sophie Grigson (photo Martyn Goddard/REX)

There are very few low-hanging fruits left with most of the remaining recipes either too expensive or morally dubious to cook. There are recipes for endangered elvers and at-risk ptarmigan for example, as well as a massive pie filled with a mortgage’s worth of game meat. Some have ingredients are simply too hard to get hold of because no one eats them anymore such as cold-smoked chickens and freshwater roach.

If you don’t own the book, I have written versions of the recipes along with little introductions about the history of the dishes, or the ingredients. What I haven’t done is simply copy out sections of the book, I have written most things in my own words, so if you don’t know about Jane and her beautiful writing, please purchase a copy – it is still in print and published by Penguin Books.

Hopefully the blog will inspire you to cook some of the classic and often unusual recipes contained within, but most of all I hope it will inspire you to find out more about Jane.

Chapter 1: Soups – 24 recipes – completed!

Chapter 2: Egg & Cheese Dishes – 24 recipes – completed!

Chapter 3: Vegetables – 39 recipes – completed!

Chapter 4: Fish – 61 recipes
4.1: Saltwater Fish – 16 recipes
4.2: Freshwater Fish – 13 recipes
4.3: Shellfish – 13 recipes
4.4: Cured Fish – 19 recipes

Chapter 5: Meat, Poultry & Game – 119 recipes
5.1: Beef & Veal – 16 recipes – completed!
5.2: Lamb & Mutton – 16 recipes
5.3: Pork – 8 recipes – completed!
5.4: Cured Meat – 17 recipes
5.5: Poultry – 18 recipes
5.6: Game – 23 recipes
5.7: Meat Pies & Puddings – 21 recipes

Chapter 6: Puddings – 66 recipes – completed!

Chapter 7: Teatime – 72 recipes – completed!
7.1: Bread – 15 recipes – completed!
7.2: Cakes & Tarts – 35 recipe s– completed!
7.3: Griddle Cakes & Pancakes – 13 recipes – completed!
7.4: Biscuits – 9 recipes – completed!

Chapter 8: Stuffings, Sauces and Preserves – 45 recipes – completed!
8.1 Stuffings – 5 recipes – completed!
8.2 Sauces – 19 recipes – completed!
8.3 Preserves & Random Things – 21 recipes – completed!

A WordPress Welcome!

My dog-eared copy of English Food

Hello all. I have moved my long-running Neil Cooks Grigson blog from Blogger to WordPress. I have been meaning to do it for ages and I finally got round to it.

Neil Cooks Grigson is the story of how I cooked all 450 recipes in food writer Jane Grigson’s comprhensive tome English Food. I say all, but in fact as you’ll see if you scroll down, I actually have a few recipes to go.

I have written background, history and personal stories to each of the recipes cooked so far, and it spawned another blog British Food: A History which has been running quite a few years too. Hopefully the two blogs complement each other – I think they do, hence why I’ve moved them to a single format. I’ll write a post covering the basic rules of the project as well as the layout of the book very soon.

Have a browse. Have a read. Find a classic or unusual ingredient and see if I think it’s worth cooking; everything gets a score out of ten and when I complete a chapter I give it a review. There are some excellent recipes in here and many surprisingly delicious things; who knew brains, sweetbreads, snipe and savoury custards could be so wonderful!?

There’s a warning though: some of the early posts are not very good, but I said I’d never change them. Indeed, I started the blog to become better at writing, so hopefully one can see some kind of progression!

Neil Cooks Grigson is 10!

Blimey! What a milestone to reach with the blog – I can barely believe that I am still writing entries for it. I know they are rather infrequent now, and I am really trying to spend more time writing, but starting this blog a decade ago unwittingly made me a bit of a busy bee today.

Four-hundred and twenty-four recipes in means I only have 26 more to cook so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I started the blog back in 2007 because I had just began my PhD in evolutionary biology at The University of Manchester; I knew I’d have to do a lot of writing, so a blog seemed like a good idea. Having never heard of Julie & Julia, I thought cooking a whole cookbook was a pretty original idea.

Those first few posts are rather badly written as I had never done any of this sort of thing before, but I soon settled into a style and found I really enjoyed the history side of things, hence starting the second blog British Food: A History.

So much has happened from the blog it is startling! If I had known the potential of writing a blog I might have chickened out.

I’ve started a food business, The Buttery, from market stall via a pop-up restaurant in my own house  to a restaurant with my business husband Brian Shields, founded a community market in Levenshulme, Manchester, come second in a Telegraph cookery competition for bloggers and Radio 4’s The Food Programme and been nominated for a Manchester Food & Drink Award. More recently I’ve been working on an episode of a history programme with Channel 4 as well as my first paid writing jobs. The restaurant is also going to be expanding in the next year: wait til you hear about that!!

All of this is because of Jane Grigson; none of this would have happened had I not forced myself to cook dishes containing ingredients such as brains, eels, sweetbreads, quince and the like. Jane opened me up to exciting and scholarly food writing and a whole unknown world of exciting British food. She is also an excellent teacher.

I’m going to try my best to work through the remaining recipes, some of which I have no excuse for not trying yet. I promise to pull my finger out. A bit, at least.

Finally, of course, I wouldn’t be writing blog entries if you good people didn’t read them and send such great comments.

So many thanks to all of you and to Jane herself, because without you I wouldn’t be on this unexpected journey!

Introducing… Blog #2

For some crazy reason I have started a second food blog, and I thought you might like to know! It is called British Food: A History. Surely this blog covers alot of that suject, you say. And you would be right. It is somewhat restricted by the recipes in the book English Food. Granted there are a total of 449 recipes to cook for the blog, so it is not exactly non-comprehensive, but there are so many recipes not in the book at all. There is no jam roly-poly or beef Wellington! Major oversights by Griggers there. Also there are recipes she unfortunately never got to see flourish. Chicken tikka masala, anyone? I have been compiling a list on a spreadsheet for a while now. I originally intended to do an English Food Part II or something, but found there are lots to write about other than the recipes and the stories and factoids behind them. I also realized that it’s not just England, but Britain that should be represented as well as the countries that have influenced it the most like Ireland, France and countries of the ex-empire such as India and China.

So it won’t just be recipes but any interesting nuggets I find plus the best of the recipes from English Food and the blog. I always said that I would never go back and alter any posts, and some of the early ones are pretty bad, so I will tart some of them up and add them. It’s amazing how my writing has developed since those early days of the blog. But don’t worry, Neil Cooks Grigson shall not suffer! I just need somewhere to put all the stuff that doesn’t quite fit.

It is very early days for the blog, but do have a look at it – I would be very grateful. Perhaps become a follower. In fact, I know that there are a few food bloggers (and would-be bloggers?) that have a look on here from time to time that might like to post on it, so if interested let me know as I would love it if several people contributed.

Laters!