Friday 27th March 2009. Willie Harcourt-Cooze. “King of Chocolate”

This is a special moment. I have had an article printed in a food magazine called Flavour, which is based in the South West of Britain.It is my first ever article in print, and I am thrilled to share my foray into food writing with the electric Willie Harcourt Cooze.
My daughter Holly went to interview him recently and a few days later I received a fabulous signed photo of Willie, who wished me well in my writing endeavours. He said “If there’s a book in me, then there’s certainly one in you” What a sweetie he is! He sent loads of his wonderful chocolate as well. Cant wait to buy his book entitled “Willies Chocolate Factory Cookbook” His Channel Four Series is starting next week – don’t miss it.
So, if you fancy reading my article, here it is. It’s about Rose Elliot.

This month introduces an insight into cookery writers who have lower profile than today’s celebrity chefs. Their contribution is a cornerstone of the British cookery we enjoy today, and their knowledge has earned the respect of home cooks and chefs alike.
“The three essential books for any student are a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Rose Elliot.”

It is comforting to know that pre web sites, (in fact, very pre web sites) that this was my cooking mantra.

Everyone wants to be a vegetarian when they’re a student, and so did I. I wanted to fit in.
I distinctly remember my house mate Jayne preparing her first meal after we moved in. She produced a meal in a flash out of spaghetti (long stuff, wrapped in blue paper- very posh), a boiled onion and a fried egg. Having prepared a beef and kidney casserole which I reckoned would last me at least three days I felt somewhat out of place – obviously good old fashioned Welsh cooking was not the thing for life at Bristol University.

Admittedly Jayne wasn’t a vegetarian, and did cast an envious eye over my meal – we laughed at her efforts and duly shared the beef together the following evening.She was no exception though – In a house of 25 women, vegetarian creations of all kinds were on offer. Startlingly few were edible.

I duly started to browse the second hand bookshops in Clifton, and came across one or two vegetarian cookbooks – one of which was written by Rose Elliot. It was called The Bean Book.
It was a good start and I have over the years bought many of the books she has written. I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of her Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (originally published in 1985) a number of years ago, and it serves as a faithful reference for all my non meat cookery.

It is still available from specialist sellers, but it has become a bit of a collector’s item, so is quite expensive now. It is well worth the investment and I promise you that you will constantly have it open in your kitchen.

It is a compilation of her very best recipes from as early as 1967, so the book has stood the test of time – a rare thing in the maelstrom that is celebrity cookery today.

The contents are grouped in categories to include, starters, soups, snacks,main courses, puddings and baking. However, she has in depth sections on the more specific areas of vegetarian cookery ingredients – notably nuts, pulses, cereals, and of course vegetables.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything she writes about, but it does give a flavour of what a powerful understanding she has of the art of vegetarian cookery.

Her instructions are clear and uncomplicated and lead even the most inexperienced cook in the right direction.

I have far too many favourites from the book to mention – one of my favourite dishes (and yes, it does contain lentils) is her Lentils and Mushrooms au Gratin. It is quick, tasty and nutritious and inexpensive- you can’t really ask for any more in a dish Can you?

4 thoughts on “Friday 27th March 2009. Willie Harcourt-Cooze. “King of Chocolate”

  1. Happy Friday Helen.
    I clicked over to your article in “Flavor” magazine. It is a good orientation to a long known food author and vegetarian cook, Rose Eliot whom I have not read about here in the States. Perhaps venturesrs to your blog need to see the author’s name Rose Elliot in your post here so to foster their curiosity to read further. Grace

  2. Flavour looks really good and classy – I like it.
    May I add? Rose Elliot is a cook-hero to me too as she turned me on to a lifelong love of beans and pulses in the 1980s – the Bean Book was my bible and my manual.

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