Thursday, 4 October 2012

Penguin Cookery Boxed Set: Oct. Goal C

Goal C for October:  Cook something from one of the Penguin cookery books in the set.

I have a real attachment for Penguin boxed sets.  At last count I had 37 of them, both large and small. They really require a separate post.  The oldest one is the vintage Classic 60's Penguins and this cookery set would be the most recent one.

It is very easy to let a Boxed set sit prettily on the shelf and not pull them out to read.  This must stop.
The Cookery set of books ranges across the 20th century of recipes and anecdotes related to food.
For example one of the books is by Charles Lamb called A Dissertation upon Roast Pig and Other Essays.  It is quite comical a man named Lamb writes about a roast pig. Charles Lamb lived from 1774 - 1834 so the information in this book is even older than the 20th century.

I have only begun to work my way through this set. This month I began with Alice Waters: Recipes and Lessons from A Delicious Cooking Revolution.

Goal C of my October challenge is to read and cook something from one of the Cookery set of books. I actually found this particular book a bit thin on  information. If someone had never cooked a thing before it would be helpful as it has easy short-cut pastry recipes, pasta, moving on to some fairly easily assembled salads.

For our meal last night I made the Spaghettini With Oil and Garlic.  As I was out most of the day I needed something simple.  I added a tossed green salad with olives and goat's milk feta and some fresh strawberries to celebrate the onset of spring here.

The recipe is as follows:
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook until al dente:  (I used freshly made pasta from the local shop.)
450 grams spaghettini  (I used a narrow fettuccine)
Meanwhile, heat in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat:
75 ml extra-virgin olive oil
When the oil is just warm, add:
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 large parsley sprigs, stems removed, leaves chopped
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Cook until the garlic is soft, turning off the heat just as the garlic starts to sizzle. Don't let it brown or burn.
Drain the pasta when cooked, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the noodles to the sauce in the pan with a pinch of salt and toss. Taste for seasoning and loosen with some of the cooking water if needed. Serve immediately.

Result:  The flavour was good if you like garlic (which we do). However I would add a bit more of the chilli flakes or perhaps use fresh chillies as we love spicy hotter dishes. This amount hardly made a dent but that would be good if one didn't like hot things. I also think adding pine nuts would be a nice texture and taste to toss in.  Also it was probably a mistake to  not use a finer spaghetti as the fettuccine was a bit thick. I don't think I'd make it again following the recipe as is.  Overall it's a bit dry however the parsley was a nice touch.

However I am still very happy with the set of books.
Having flipped through them they are enjoyable to read about cooking in the distant past and makes me grateful for the modern conveniences we enjoy in our lifetime as cooking back in the 'old days' was bloody hard work!  The covers of these books are beautiful, they have that smooth sleek feeling to them that is so popular with many of the publishers these days and they are great little books to pick up when you see them.  They are sold in a set or separately.


  1. I often make a version of the pasta dish when we have nothing much in the pantry. I use a lot more parsley and also add lemon zest to it which really lifts it. I use quite a generous amount of olive oil with it. Jeltje

  2. The lemon zest would be good. Will keep that one in mind. Thanks Jeltje

  3. How exciting. I went to an event hosted by Pen Vogler, who edited the series, where she talked about the books and cooked four different cakes/biscuits for us to try - - and it was amazing. One of the cakes had to be adapted as it originally contained smelling salts!

  4. That is really interesting. Imagine putting smelling salts into a cake. I wonder why they used that. OF course I have no idea what smelling salts are made of. Just what I see in the old films where some neurotic female faints and they wave the salts under her nose. Thank you for sharing such interesting info.

  5. This is a Penguin set that I have been coveting, too. They just look so lovely! Have just managed to hunt down a used set of Penguin's English Journeys for a very reasonable price (USD 7.19) and will continue to look out for this Great Food series, too.
    Have fun with the recipes there! :)

    1. I have the English journeys set and it is lovely. A bit older than the cookery set but they do pop up quite a bit esp in England which is where I ended up ordering mine in the end. Even with postage cheaper than Australia and available. Thanks for your comment Michelle. Pam


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