#350 Harold Wilshaw’s Broad Bean and Avocado Salad

This recipe – the 350th – is the last I shall cook in America because tomorrow morning I fly back to England. It has been a great place to carry on the blog; there were many foods that were tricky to get hold of in Britain that were easy to find in the USA. The Americans’ love of freshwater fish and shellfish (particularly oysters) really helped me out in the Fish chapter and I managed to find lots of offal like pig’s heads, lamb’s heads, tongues and sweetbreads. The other great thing was that all my friends were so game to try the often strange things I served up to them, and I thank them very much for that.

This recipe would not seem strange to an American – a salad made from avocados and broad (fava) beans, but this would have been an extremely exotic dish in England during the 1970s where the avocado was very much the new kid on the block in the greengrocer’s shop. Of course, for that very reason, it makes this recipe a contemporary one – at least when the book was first published – perhaps Jane was doing her bit to introduce a new taste to the 1970’s English palette. It never became a classic recipe, but full marks to Griggers for effort.

I wanted to do this recipe before leaving St Louis because avocados are so delicious here and so flavourless in England. It’s a very simple one that marries together broad beans and avocados; two vegetables that I would never have thought about putting together. If only Hannibal Lector had known, he might not have been done for cannibalism:

I ate his avocado with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Num um um-um-um

This recipe comes from the ex-Guardian food writer Harold Wilshaw, whose name I always read as Harold Wilson when I flicked through the pages of the Vegetables chapter. He apparently he ‘thought up this particular salad when unexpected guests arrived and there wasn’t much in the house.’ How bourgeois of him to have an avocado just lying around in his house.

To make the salad start by podding some broad beans and boiling them for around 5 minutes. Drain and then begin the task of removing the thick seed coat. It’s not has fiddly as you might think; if you make a nick in one end of the bean, you can quite easily squeeze out the bright green bean from within.

Slice an avocado and arrange it on a plate along with the beans and drizzle over a simple vinaigrette made from either cream and lemon juice, or olive oil and vinegar. Season well and scatter over some extras if you like: chopped parsley, chives, spring onion or coriander leaves are suggestions as well as air-dried Cumbrian ham or Parma ham.

#350 Harold Wilshaw’s Broad Bean and Avocado Salad. Well I have to that this was an absolutely delicious and simple salad. Both vegetables are sweet in flavour, but have very different textures. I just hope I can get hold of avocados good enough to make it! 8.5/10

#334 Salmagundi for a Middle Dish at Supper

A salmagundi is essentially a rather grand salad which was popular in the 18th Century that has origins in the Elizabethan era. The idea being that the ingredients could be laid out for a ‘Middle Dish’ to produce a large sallet. The Salmagundi originated as a game dish called a salmi (click here for the recipe) popular since Medieval days.

Meals in those days were not served in courses, but all at once, with large dishes in the middle and smaller ones around the outside. The Salmagundi – sometimes spelt as Solomon-Gundy or salamongundi – would be part of a splendid centrepiece, with the meat and salad vegetables in many individual plates, in piles, or layered up. The most important thing about a Salmagundi is that the centre is raised higher than the rest so that upon the apex of the arrangement pickled herrings can sit. For some reason, this recipe appears in the Poultry section of the Meat, Poultry & Game chapter. Seeing as the only necessary ingredient is pickled herring, I would have expected it to be part of the Cured Fish section of the Fish chapter, though chicken or pullet – a castrated hen (can you castrate a hen? You know what I mean) – was ‘one of the most popular salmagundi ingredients’, says Grigson.
Here is one Hannah Glasse recipe that Jane Grigson quotes in English Food, I can’t find the source of it anywhere, Jane doesn’t say where she got it but it’s not in Glasse’s famous Art of Cookery:
In the top plate in the middle, which should stand higher than the rest, take a fine pickled herring, bone it, take off the head, and mince the rest fine. In the other plates round, put the following things in one, pare a cucumber and cut it very thin; in another, apples pared and cut small; in another, an onion peeled and cut small; in another two hard eggs chopped small, the whites in one, and the yolks in another; pickled gherkins in another cut small; in another, celery cut small; in another, pickled red cabbage chopped fine; take some watercresses clean washed and picked, stick them all about and between every plate and saucer, and throw nasturtium flowers about the cresses. You must have oil and vinegar, and lemon to eat with it. If it is prettily set out, it will make a pretty figure in the centre of the table, or you may lay them in heaps in a dish. If you have not the ingredients, set out your plates or saucers with just what you fancy, and in the room of a pickled herring you may mince anchovies.
Hannah Glasse: she was no looker, was she?

Other recipes include many other ingredients such as cold roasted veal, pork, duck, pigeon, oysters, lettuce (cut…as fine as a good big thread), samphire, peas, sorrel, spinach, chopped shallots and lemons, pickles, grated horseradish, a scattering of barberries, figs, oranges and lemons stuck on the top of a sugar loaf. The list goes on…
The secret to a good salmagundi, according to Jane Grigson, is in the layering of flavours, you need a good mixture of sharp, piquant things like the herring or gherkins as well as crisp salad vegetables and bland meats and eggs. The salmagundi often turned into a bit of a disaster, mainly because of the sentence: [I]f you have not the ingredients, set out your plates or saucers with just what you fancy… A housekeeper in a grand 18th Century larder would have had a plethora of wonderful pickled vegetables, preserved meats, plus whatever was growing in the kitchen garden at her disposal; housewives would not, and tended to make it after they’d cleaned-out their pantries. People were just being economical of course, but just what you fancy, does not translate as whatever’s in the back of the cupboard
When it came to making a salmagundi of my own I simply tried to take Jane’s advice and make a platter with a good mix of stuff and a decent olive oil and vinegar. I put an upturned bowl in the centre of a serving dish so that my pickled herring would be raised up and got to covering the whole thing in various bits and bobs. Here’s what I did:
#334 Salmagundi for a Middle Dish at Supper. I quite liked putting the salmagundi together and it was quite nice to look at and fun to eat. I think I got a good balance of the crisp, bland and piquant. It certainly made a nice change having an English salad that had a bit of thought put into it because usually they are a little sad. Shall I do it again? I think so – hopefully with a giant sugar loaf in the middle next time. 6.5/10.

#261 Parsnip and Shellfish Salad

Don’t let it ever be said that I don’t like a warm salad. Though I rarely make them, I don’t know why. Britain is not big on its salads really, though America definitely knows what it’s doing. This sort of food is perfect for this time of year – light and fresh, yet warming. Grigson doesn’t mention where this recipe comes from or how old it is and there’s nothing on the Internet regarding it in its historical sense.
This salad is pretty easy to do: quarter some parsnips, cut them into chunky spears and simmer in salted water for around five minutes until tender. Drain. Stir in some salad dressing (I did the one from English Food, though exchanged the sugar for honey). Add some shellfish (prawns or lobster) or some chunky meaty white fish like monkfish – I went for the prawns as I had them already. Arrange some lettuce on a plate and add the parsnips and shellfish. I used an iceberg lettuce, which has developed a stigma for being a bit crap, but I really like them; sweet and crisp (and cheap!). Scatter with chopped chives and parsley.
#261 Parsnip and Shellfish Salad. This was an excellent and easy to prepare salad. The warm parsnips acted like little sponges to the salad dressing and the sweet prawns complimented the earthy flavour of the parsnips. A very good 10 minute dinner. 8/10.

#252 Bloater and Potato Salad

This dish gets right away from the high-tea image and shows how delicious bloaters can be at the beginning of a dinner party’ says Griggers. I wasn’t aware they had that image. These days, I suppose, they have no image at all seeing as they are rarely eaten. Indeed, these had to be ordered, like many of the fish in this book, online at The Fish Society. This is a simple dish and actually probably more suitable as a buffet item… With this recipe, I managed to use up all the fish in my freezer before the move to Houston. Indeed, any recipe after this one will have been done in America. I wonder how successful I will be!?

First prepare three bloaters by removing the skin and removing the fillets. Bloaters are already cooked, but if removing them from the bone is a problem, immerse them in boiling water and leave for a few minutes. Flake the fish or cut it up and put in the centre of a serving dish. Cut up a pound of boiled, waxy potatoes and mix in a vinaigrette. Griggers suggests this one: 5 tablespoons olive oil to one of lemon juice, plus salt, pepper, sugar and a heaped tablespoon of chopped chives. Reserve a tablespoon of it to pour over the fish. Now arrange the potatoes around the fish in an artistic manner and serve.


#252 Bloater and Potato Salad. Not the most exciting meal. The bloaters were very nice, as were the lemony potatoes, but it didn’t feel like a complete course. It would have been much nicer with additional dishes too I think. Could do better, Lady Jane: 5/10

Warm Lamb’s Fry Salad

Well #200 was now upon me, so I got a few folks round to join me in scoffing it. The trouble was I couldn’t do starter from the book – otherwise that would be the big 200, and I didn’t want some little starter to be it. However, I decided that the food would have a theme: offal. All three courses would have some offal as part of it. You see, I knew that I had some lamb’s fries in the freezer that I bought a while ago from the Cheshire Smokehouse and this seemed like the perfect time to cook them. After a little internet research, I found that they weren’t that difficult to cook, it seemed that you could treat them the same as scallops. I decided on a warm salad. I just hoped they weren’t awful, and that people weren’t going to be squeamish.

It has been a while since I put one of my own recipes on here…

For six:

Heat some cooking oil in a frying pan until nice and hot. Throw in two cloves of garlic and a good pinch of chilli flakes. As soon as the garlic starts to brown, throw in seven sliced and previously seasoned lamb’s fries. Quickly stir fry them for around two or three minutes only, and then season with more salt and pepper if required plus a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir through some dressed spinach leaves and serve immediately. I forgot to take a picture. Oopsey!

The lamb’s fries were okay – very tender and rather bland. It was quite difficult to get excited by them. I think I’d would rather have had something bizarre and shocking, than something that was just okay. At least everyone that came can say they’ve tried them. And I can say that when I do testicles, they melt in your mouth! (F’nar!)

#196 Mange Tout Salad with Chicken Liver and Bacon

The starter to the dinner party. The problem with dinner parties is that unless you’re careful, you end up stressed out in the kitchen cooking away and not seeing or speaking to anyone. This warm salad seemed just the job, as long as everything was prepped beforehand; it takes only minutes to make. This recipe looked simple and very tasty indeed – anything with chicken livers and fried bread always gets my vote. I also like that in this recipe appears in the Vegetables chapter of the book!

FYI: although liver is both delicious and cheap – be warned of potential poisoning through an overdose of vitamin A. However, this only really applies to polar bear, seal and husky liver. But you have been warned, so don’t come crying to me when you’ve got serious hypervitaminosis.


This recipe serves four to six people:

Briefly boil 12 ounces of mange tout in salted water; just two minutes will do it. Don’t put a lid on (the same goes for any green vegetable) as it keeps them crisp and gives them a vibrant green colour. Drain them and keep them warm in a bowl in a low oven. Now cut six rashers of streaky bacon into strips and fry them in a little sunflower oil until crisp, remove, drain, add more oil, then fry 24 (ish; let’s no get too pernickety) bread cubes in the oil. When golden brown, drain and keep them and the bacon warm. Make a simple vinaigrette from some sunflower or hazelnut oil and some white wine vinegar. Use a ratio you prefer, though Griggers suggests 3:2 oil to vinegar. Stir this into the mange tout. Now fry the chicken livers: you need six – cube them and remove any gristly bits and gall bladders should there be any. Fry them quickly and briefly – they should be a little bit pink inside. Remove them from the heat. Carefully stir in the bacon and liver and serve straight away.

#196 Mange Tout Salad with Chicken Liver and Bacon. This was delicious. The salty and fatty bacon and rich metallic liver were perfectly balanced with the bland and sweet mange tout. The crispy croutons add extra textures too. I really love these simple recipes in the book (you’re not always sure which ones they are going to be). Minimum effort, maximum reward. Brilliant stuff 8.5/10

#179 Fruit Salad with Tea

I made this dessert to go after the duck with mint and sauce paloise as it was all very rich, the idea being that it would cleanse the palate and all that. Plus it’s a chance to use lots of the dark summer fruits now that they’re on the wane a bit. (That said, they are just coming through in the wild – when Butter and I went to Chatsworth House for a walk in the woods, we found wild raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.) I had mentioned making this fruit salad a few times, but people always opted for something else. This time, I just made it and didn’t tell anyone what they were having; a strategy I may use again. What seems to put folk off is the addition of the tea, of course, and think it’s just some weird post-war thing (I must admit, I thought that too), but Griggers says that it is delicious and that you would never guess the delicious sweet liquid is mainly Earl Grey.

You can any fruit you like and in any quantity, though it is best to stick to dark and red soft fruits. I stuck to what Jane suggests: 1 lb purple plums, stoned and chopped; 1 lb black cherries, stoned; ½ lb black grapes, halved; ½ lb strawberries, halved (or sliced if they are large) and 4 ounces of raspberries. Arrange the fruit in a glass bowl in layers, using sliced strawberries to line the bowl, and sprinkling sugar as you go. Cover and leave overnight. Next day, make a double strength brew of Earl Grey or orange pekoe tea and leave to cool. Pour it onto the bowl so that it almost comes to the top. Taste the tea and add more sugar if necessary. Decorate with mint leaves. There is no need to serve it with anything at all.

#179 Fruit Salad with Tea. Really, really good! A complete surprise and a taste sensation. The tea was light, sweet and delicious, and Jonty and Butters didn’t guess that there was tea in there. The fruit had gone soft and juicy, looking like little jewels. I didn’t think a fruit salad could be so good! I shall never make a fruit salad any other way again. 8/10

FYI: The Earl Grey referred to in Earl Grey tea is the second Earl Grey, who was a Prime Minister in the 1830s. He was sent some tea flavoured with bergamot oil as a gift from China, and so it was forever named after him