Summer Cooking

As some of you might have noticed I love illustrated cookery books. Not just Edward Bawden and John Minton’s work but David Gentleman and here, Adrian Daintrey. I think they are an important part of middle class history and one of the first signs of social change and aspiration.


The bottle on the cover, an Italian Chianti with the raffia, flirts with what is now a taboo bit of decor, but at the time would have graced a table with a candle inside and stylistic wax drippings. It was an age where after an extended postwar rationing and the rise of supermarkets, more interesting items were being introduced to a public that didn’t frequent delis.

This cookery book by Elizabeth David features illustrations by Adrian Daintrey.


Iced Russian Soup
This is a very simplified version of a Russian summer soup called Swekolnik.

1/2lb. of the leaves of young beetroots, 4 small beetroots, half a fresh cucumber, 2 or 3 small pickled cucumbers, a few leaves of tarragon, chives, mint, fennel, ¼ pint of cream, salt, pepper, tarragon vinegar.

Wash the beet leaves, remove the stalks. Cook the leaves in a little salted water for a few minutes. Drain, squeeze perfectly dry, chop finely. Put them in a bowl.

Cut the cooked beetroots into small squares, salt them, add them to the leaves, and pour in a coffee-cupful of tarragon vinegar. Add the diced fresh and pickled cucumber, and a little of the liquid from the pickle. Pour in the cream.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator, and before serving add the chopped herbs, thin with iced water, and serve with little pieces of ice floating in the soup tureen.

This soup comes out a rather violent pink colour, but is very good on a really hot evening.


Laitue a la creme 

A salad for people who cannot eat olive oil. Make a cream dressing in the following way: mix together in a cup half a teaspoon of made English mustard, a teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of tarragon vinegar, half a crushed clove of garlic (this can be left out) and the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. Stir in a teacupful of fresh cream.

Pour the dressing, very cold, over the crisp hearts of cos lettuces, and over the salad sprinkle the chopped white of the egg. Serve very cold. A very beautiful summery looking salad. If you have fresh tarragon or chives add some, chopped, to the dressing.