Double cream: When cows’ milk reaches the dairy, it contains a liquid substance called butterfat, and this, when it’s skimmed off the surface of the milk, is cream, or what we know as double cream. It is extremely rich with a minimum fat content of 48 per cent. Because of this it can stand being boiled in cooking without separating, and can be whipped to a fluffy, spreadable consistency. When whipping double cream, though, you have to be extra careful, as over-whipping can give a grainy, slightly separated appearance (and if you really overwhip it, you’ll end up with butter). One of the ways to prevent this happening is to add a couple of tablespoons of milk per pint (570 ml) of cream and, if you are using an electric hand whisk, make sure that you turn the speed right down when it looks thick enough. Double cream is also rich and luscious served just as it is, chilled, as a thick pouring cream.
Whipping cream: This is a lighter version of double cream, with at least 35 per cent fat, and it whips beautifully without being quite so rich. Whipping cream is also good as a pouring cream, again, if you want something that’s not too rich. If you’re not Scottish (Scots don’t approve), try pouring whipping cream over hot porridge, along with some unrefined brown sugar to melt and marble into little pools. I also think whipping cream is good for swirling on top of desserts, giving you that ‘not-quite-so-high-in-calories’ satisfaction.
Single cream: This is a much thinner cream, good for pouring and for cooking with when you need more creaminess than milk. Because it has only a minimum of 18 per cent fat, it’s not suitable for boiling, as it will curdle.
Extra thick double or single cream: These are as described for double or single cream, but have been treated to give them a consistency that is suitable for spooning on to pies and desserts without having to bother with whisking them first.
Soured cream: This is a lovely product, made with fresh, single cream that is soured by adding a natural culture, similar to that used in yoghurt. It is unique as a dairy product and, in my opinion, is the very best topping for jacket potatoes (mixed with snipped fresh chives). If you are lucky enough to get some caviar, soured cream and chives make wonderful accompaniments.
Clotted cream: Wait for it – this is the big one! Perhaps you’d rather not know, but it has at least 55 per cent butterfat. Clotted cream has a unique and special dairy colour, like pale buttercups, and is thick, rich and utterly irresistible. It is a speciality of the rich pastureland of the West Country, and is made by heating the cream to evaporate some of the liquids, so, in a sense, you could call it concentrated cream. It is heaven spread on scones with home-made preserves and extra special on tart fruit pies. It’s not for every day, but everyone should treat themselves to some just once in a while.
Born out of frugality (using up stale bread) this lovely pudding has, quite rightly, pushed itself to the top of the list when it comes to family favourites - and Delia's version is particuarly good.
Jacket potatoes are cheap and filling but sometimes you want a change from grated cheese and baked beans! This recipe is packed with flavour for a very satisfying supper dish.
This is a delicious, summery soup, but it can be made in the winter with two finely chopped leeks instead of the lettuce leaves. Don't be tempted to use stock, as this detracts from the fresh flavour of the carrots.
Bread-and-butter pudding is one of the highlights of traditional cooking - and gives the family a cheap and filling finale to a meal. This version simply jazzes up an old favourite.
A lovely vegetarian recipe that would be ideal at Christmas. Cooking the mushrooms slowly in Madeira gives great depth and flavour, complemented beautifully by the cheese choux pastry.