Monday, October 01, 2007

The joys of Mock Banana


Meet Elizabeth Craig. She is the owner of the disembodied head that stares out rather nervously from the inside cover of a 1933 edition of 'Entertaining with Elizabeth Craig'. I bought it in a carboot sale this summer. I have grown very fond of Elizabeth who apparently had a kitchen which was a model of perfection: “The ideal kitchen of which every housewife dreams.” There is a touch of the Mona Lisa about her smile. And if you knew what she had to contend with when entertaining you can see why she needed a sense of humour. The book has chapters on dealing with difficult guests, entertaining with or without a maid, with or without electricity.
As I looked through the book for her thoughts on parsnips, a snippet of newspaper fell out. "“Tonight’s Black-Out starts at 7.36 and lasts until 6.22 am tomorrow.” Alongside the black out instructions are recipes for ‘cheap and energy giving vegetables’. Parsnips, it says, can be roasted and mashed with banana essence. This is ‘Mock Banana.’ My father, who grew up during the war, can remember mock banana and it isn't a fond memory.
I ditched the idea of mock banana and put on an apron. Elizabeth Craig always has this effect. I am entertaining with electricity, without a maid and some of my guests do have a tendency to be difficult, at least over vegetables. I took my parsnips and turned them into a puree. Root vegetable purees have been a successful ruse with Freddie who liked celeriac puree. The weather has become very dull and it is drizzling with rain and when I looked at the parsnip puree, I thought it looked a little pale, a little too English in its colouring. So I added a pinch of paprika which did the trick. The vegetable equivalent of a quick spray tan. Freddie gave this 7 out of 10 which was respectable and we ate it with sausages.
Parsnip Purée
Serves 4 as a side dish

450g parsnip, peeled and sliced
A knob of butter
1 tbsp of crème-fraiche or single cream
1 tbsp of milk
Salt and pepper to season
Pinch of ground paprika

Peel and slice the parsnip. Put them in a pan of boiling water and cook until tender. Drain them well and put in a food processor. Blend until it is a puree with a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the crème-fraiche or cream, milk, butter and a little ground paprika. Process again and serve. It is great as an accompaniment to lamb or pork chops or sausages.

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  1. Schmoof12:51 PM

    Unfortunately parsnip is one vegetable I just can't like the taste of - I keep eating it over and over again (like i did with carrot and swede) in the hope my taste buds will change, but alas. :(

  2. What a great idea for a site! I can't wait to look through all of your recipes.

  3. Schmoof. I know what you mean. They aren't my favourite.
    Come back soon -

  4. Sounds like a good recipe and that book looks hilarious and informative as well.

  5. I've never had parsnips before... the book sounds like fun to read.

  6. Remind me to never go to Elizabeth Craig's dinner parties! Very funny post.

    I went through the whole base vegetable purée thing with Cerys as a baby an there weren't many she didn't like. Parsnip always seems to work with it being naturally sweet. I love it.


    PS Are you getting my email responses?

  7. I love parsnips (roasted in goose fat) - and if you forget to harvest one they have pretty yellow flowers which insects love too (and then you collect the seeds for a new crop).

    That book looks like a great find - I love reading old recipe books - a snapshot of social history.


  8. I have an Elizabeth Craig book too.
    It's her Economical Cookery, published in 1934 and it belonged to my grandmother.


  9. Charlotte, how fabulous - and what an amazing find that clipping is. My mother still talks about being young in Edgbaston right after the war. She remembers the first time a boat came in to England with bananas. Apparently every school child got one at lunch one day that week.

  10. Hi Charlotte! Thanks for your comment at my blog (re: The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and other stories.) I actually bought that book & tape as well as all our "Mog" books at Daisy and Tom on King's Road (I usually fly London trips as they are commutable for me.)
    I LOVE your vegetable challenge idea. My son is a great vegetable eater, but we as a family could use a wider exposure to veggies. What a great idea! I'll have to peruse your archives sometime, for recipes.


We always love to read your comments - thank you