Making up a large part of my mother’s collection of, I would guess, over a hundred cook books is the St Michael range. She has almost every volume, in fact, she may actually have every volume but I’ve never asked. If you need a cook book for any type of cookery, this range will have the title just for you. They are retro in the extreme. I love just browsing through the pictures to have a giggle, one of the things I love is that there is always a photo. I never trust a cookbook I can’t see pictures in! They also happen to contain basically fool proof recipes. I’ve never met one that didn’t work. The Last Minute Christmas Cake recipe came from one, the family Chilli Con Carne recipe did too. They are basically culinary gold!
Possibly the most useful one is the Microwave Cooking volume. You wouldn’t think that a book on microwave cooking witten in 1983 would be anything other than horrendous. Microwave cooking, for goodness sake! Nowadays the microwave seems to be the province of ready meals and reheating leftovers. You might, god forbid, boil your water in it (if you do I want you to go away now, I’m afraid we may not be able to remain friends after all). It doesn’t exactly speak of haute cuisine. All the things that these days are “bad” are the essence of the microwave: fast, convenient, easy, fuss free. If you’re a “real cook” cooking “good” food then you should be standing there in the kitchen, pots and pans steaming, wooden spoon in hand. Bunging your ingredients in on high for 4 1/2 minutes is, at best, cheating, surely! Not so, I say! The microwave may have a bit of a bad rep. but it can produce some culinary gold! We make a mean steamed pudding in ours and my Chicken Liver Pate is another, or this recipe for Mushrooms in Garlic Butter. Ready in 10 minutes and utterly delicious!
450g button mushrooms (whole if small, cut into quarters if especially large)
1 tsp herbes de provence
2 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp double cream
– Place the mushrooms, herbes, garlic and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl.
– Cover with a plate or clingfilm and cook in the microwave on high for 6 minutes.
– Uncover and drain off any excess liquid.
– Stir in the butter, chopped into pieces, and cream and season to taste. (Mushrooms need a reasonable amount of salt and I think a good dash of pepper works wonders too.)
– Cook uncovered for 2 1/2 minutes.
– Take out and give a good stir.
– Serve in ramekins (or rice bowls like I did here) with some nice crusty bread.