Thursday, 18 February 2016

Lacto Lenten Luncheon

Fanny wasn't a fan of Mrs Beeton. She mentions her often. Never in a good way. She says that the original Book of Household Management 'stuff' (she clearly can't bring herself to call it a 'cookbook') is all 'fiddle-faddle'. Fanny blames Mrs Beeton for so many English women failing. She gave all the wrong information. Fanny cannot imagine any professional chef in a professional kitchen wasting their time and money playing the farcical 'games' she outlined. After all, she never had time in her very short life to actually learn how to cook. The only evidence Fanny has seen that she cooked anything came from her sister who remarked that a cake she made when 8 years old 'was a sad failure and turned out like a biscuit'. In what seems to be the ultimate put down, Fanny asserts that Mrs Beeton 'couldn't even fry an egg'.

Fanny Cradock Vegetarian Buffet

For Fanny, egg-skills are the most important. Especially for lacto-vegetarians. Especially during Lent. Especially when preparing a buffet for lacto-vegetarian guests during Lent. Not only a time of exclusion, but also a time for frugalness. To confront any nonsense in readers minds that eggs may be an out-of-reach expense, Fanny tells us that she, as a private person, buys her eggs direct from the local farmer at 19p per dozen. Fanny reminds us that any member of the public can do precisely the same thing. If in any doubt, Fanny points out that an egg has the nutritional equivalency to over two ounces of meat, so surely we must accept more readily that 5p is better spent on three fresh eggs than on almost any other foodstuff.

Fanny Cradock Vegetarian Buffet

Fanny's point seems to be that the recipes for these lacto-vegetarian (she does love this description!) are good for the household too. As a result of spending prudently on ingredients, we should have more time to spend on cooking them. Apparently. So the less you spend, the more time you have. Great! Making a little go a long way demands more cooking time if what you make is to taste delicious. According to Fanny the only alternative is to cut down on both (and risk a nutritional crisis) and open a tin of something. This can never be a substitute for good cooking. Fanny does say that tins can be superb 'props or aids to good cookery', presumably just in case you happen to own her cookbook devoted to Cooking with Can and Pack in which she does exactly that.

Fanny Cradock Vegetarian Buffet

No tins here, this is fresh, locally purchased, farmer approved, lacto-vegetarian fare after all. Oh, except the tin of sweetcorn. She serves it on a bed of 'health' rice, which is brown. All lacto-vegetarians love a bit of brown health. Simply sparkle it up with a hard boiled egg and a dash of paprika. Just like her Mum used to make. The Mushroom and Tomato Bake is layers of mushrooms and tomatoes, chopped roughly, cooked together, then layered with breadcrumbs and milled hazelnuts, also cooked together in butter. With Marjoram in-between each layer. Lacto-Vegetarians, like plain old vegetarians today, love a salad. So Fanny whips up her special Banana, Walnut and Orange Salad of sliced bananas doused in honey and lemon juice, with scattered chopped dates and walnuts, garnished with orange segments. It brings all the lacto-vegetarians to Fanny's yard. Or buffet.

Fanny Cradock Vegetarian Buffet

To crown it all off, it has to be more eggs. Stuffed. Boil the economical yet nutritious eggs, peel and carefully slice the top off. Scoop out the yolk, carefully, mix with mayonnaise, ground almonds, grated cheese, a little tomato juice (for 'moistening' purposes), season and then, naturally, pipe it gloriously back into the hollowed out egg. Serve in egg cups stuffed with lettuce leaves. Poor old Mrs Beeton would never manage any of this, but thankfully for us with Fanny's help the buffet is a triumph. It all tastes good, even the Banana Salad. Fanny would never let us fail. Fanny would never let us present 'fiddle-faddle'. Thank heavens for Fanny!

Fanny Cradock Vegetarian Buffet


  1. I don't like mushrooms, yet the mushroom bake sounds surprisingly appealing.

    Poor Mrs Beeton! Though she does do terrible things to some vegetables...

    1. Fanny did have it in for poor Mrs Beeton... Hope you try the mushroom bake!