Nutmeg and mace
Nutmeg is one of my favourite spices, one that we in this country have included in recipes throughout our history – think of a speckled brown custard tart, or the shiny nutmeg skin on a rice pudding.
It's curious how the French have ignored nutmeg, but the Italians and Spanish adore it as much as we do, using it in cheese dishes, pasta sauces and fillings, creamy béchamel and spinach. But a warning: you must never even think of buying nutmeg ready-ground, as it quickly loses all its charm. Instead always have some whole nutmeg and a grater, and grate it as and when you need it.
Mace is the outer casing of the nutmeg, resembling a thick meshed cage, which is dried and becomes brittle. It is sold in pieces (blades) and can be used in infusions, such as flavouring milk for a white sauce. Ground mace has also been included in British recipes for potted meats, shrimps and fish pâtés. It is impossible to grind it at home, so this one has to be bought ready-ground and the date carefully watched.
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.
Black-eyed beans are the lovely nutty beans that are popular in recipes from the deep south of America and, with the addition of other vegetables, they make very good beancakes.
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Old-fashioned Rice Pudding - complete with lovely skin!
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The thing to remember here is that good-quality tinned salmon makes better fishcakes than fresh, so don't be tempted to cook some salmon just for this.
Butchers will chop up and sell you marrowbones for just a few pence, or they can sometimes be bought pre-packed in supermarkets. For a light beef stock use the same ingredients and follow the same instructions but leave out the initial roasting of...
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All that's involved here is a quick-dissolving packet jelly and a generous amount of port and claret. For this reason it is strictly an adult jelly, so I'm afraid drivers will have to have something else.