I’d forgotten about Delia Smith. Which is sad because she is an old friend. In as much as you can be friends with someone you have never met through their books. Even when I had no interest in food, when I was forced to prepare something she would jump to the rescue. Unforgiving that I had neglected her for so long. Unforgiving that our friendship was inconsistent. Unforgiving that it was entirely one-way.
She was always there.
From those battered pages of my mother’s book, held together with a slacking elastic band, she would take me under her wing. Without judgement she would describe exactly what I had to do, in easy simple words, crystal clear to the cooking dunce.
But then after all this benevolence I would show gratitude by dumping her back on the shelf until the next rare occasion that I needed to cook.
That was when I lived with my parents. Now I am ashamed to say I don’t even own a Delia myself. I have piles cookery book that are more photo albums, travel journals or poetry books. They are coffee table books with the odd recipe slipped in amongst all the fanciful art. Creating food has become trendy and sensual. A cookery book is no longer something you cover in sticky fingers or bend the spine viciously with one arm to keep it open, while you juggle a mixing bowl in the other. Instead it is now something you curl up with in a designer hammock among waving daffodils, or lie sprawled across a chaise longue absorbing.
As a sucker for a description I have fallen foul of these pseudo cookery books. Their fluffy words have persaded me to make a dish devoid of flavour or one with pages of obscure ingredients that take a week’s sourcing and a month’s salary.
I do often go to Delia’s website , but it’s to convert American cups to British ounces http://www.deliaonline.com/conversion-tables.html .
However when I decided to make the fridge staple of Lasagne, Delia was calling.
I was expecting something good, something fail safe, something that even I couldn’t get wrong. What I didn’t anticipate was something this good.
I put it down to the chicken livers. This was a new experience for me and the preparation was not altogether a pleasurable one. Little balls of flesh stick to your hands and under your finger nails in a fairy liquid defying way. But the taste is worth it. It adds a wonderful, powerful richness to the slow cooked mince. Combined with the pasta and cream sauce, the final product is a dreamy silky dish, with the perfect amount of comforting stodge and mind blowing flavour mixed in. Plus there are plenty of those chewy, crispy edges for everyone to fight over.
As for the chicken livers, I hadn’t had to trek across London and they were cheap. My local Asda had three times what I needed for a pound.
And what to do with the remains?
Mr H expertly fried them in a bit of garlic, then whizzed them up in the blender with some melted butter, a splash of cream and a dribble of port. Et voila, Chicken liver pâté. Simple. And from what I could tell from the blissful expression on his face (I am yet to find my inner liver pâté lover), divinely good scooped warm from the blender using toast as your utensil.
So here’s to Delia, thanks for your patience and I promise to pay you more attention in the future!