20 August 2009

The Country Kitchen

The Country Kitchen by Jocasta Innes was published in the late 1970’s. It could have been written today. Of course instead of drawings of techniques, today there would be photographs including detailed designs of Innes’ farm kitchen. Like many English kitchens there is a large Aga stove, multiple cupboards and tables and one tiny refrigerator, roughly the size that one finds in most college dorm rooms.

Jocasta Innes wanted to revive the kind of kitchen arts that would have been very familiar in the late 1800’s. Make sausage, cheese, preserves, and bread. Drying meat and mushrooms, curing ham, smoking kippers and brewing beer. As you can see, this is the stuff of many current cookbooks.

Innes is a classic and straightforward writer. Her instruction is precise, without being didactic. She encourages, offers advice, and forgives mistakes. Innes makes her own crowdie or cottage cheese, but you can make it with a commercial cottage cheese.

Spiced Cheese Loaf

225 g (8oz) crowdie or cottage cheese
3 egg yolks
25 g (1 oz) butter
4 tablespoons sugar
tiny pinch each ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 thick slice stale white bread

Sieve or blend the cheese until smooth, and mix with beaten egg yolks, softened butter, sugar, spices and vanilla. Grate or grind the bread (minus crust) in an electric grinder into fine crumbs, then mix well with the cheese mixture. Pour into a well buttered glass or pottery oven or soufflé dish. Grate a little nutmeg over the top and bake for 45 minutes at 190 C (375 F, Mark 5). Eat hot from the dish or turn out when warm.

As a child I hated cottage cheese, but I learned to love it as an adult. This is a great dish to “disguise” cottage cheese and turn it into something special.

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