Traditionally children’s cookbooks offer easy to master recipes to encourage kids into the kitchen. Food with faces on, decorated treats with the odd fruit or vegetable thrown in for good measure.
That’s why this new childrens cookbook Jolly Good Food by Allegra McEvedy (who launched the Leon healthy fast food chains and was a judge on CBBC’s Junior Bake Off) which is inspired by the stories of Enid Blyton is like a great of fresh air. Appealing to grown-ups nostalgic memories of reading Enid Blyton – where food descriptions ranging from sardine sandwiches, cherry cakes and jugs of creamy milk – are remembered as much as the various adventures within the pages. And, are now being rediscovered as these classic stories are read all over again with our children today.
This cookbook comes at a time when getting back to the simpler things in life is ever present. That being getting into the kitchen together, and cooking and eating home cooked food with friends and family. Whether you’ve dreamed of having picnics with the Famous Five, midnight feasts with the Malory Towers girls or party teas with the Folk of the Faraway Tree? Jolly Good Food offers practical recipes for hearty suppers, lip-smacking treats and picnic foods all served up with that quintessential Blyton refreshment – ginger beer.
And, not only is Jolly Good Food packed with over 40 exciting recipes to make together – although many of them can be made by children aged 9 and over – each chapter features extracts from Enid Blyton’s books to really get you in the spirit.
Reading and eating – is there any better partnership? We think not – so we’re sharing an exclusive extract for a jolly good autumn feast of Sausage and Bean casserole, Clementine Treacle Tart and of course, lashings of ginger beer.
A Jolly Good Feast for Autumn
SAUSAGE & BEAN CASSEROLE
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, cut into small chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
350g cocktail sausages (or big ones cut
1 tin (230g) kidney beans*, drained and rinsed
1 tin (230g) haricot beans*, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
0.5 litre chicken stock (better from
concentrated tub, not cube)
1 tsp salt
*or any other beans you have/like
This is a great complete meal, with all food groups (well, it’s a bit light on veg but there is some in there … corn on the side would be in keeping). Plenty of protein and carbs make for a nice full tummy, a good night’s sleep and waking up sprightly!
1. First, chop the onion, carrot, garlic and red pepper so they are ready when you need them.
2. In a medium-sized ovenproof saucepan or casserole dish, melt the butter in the oil over a high heat. When melted and hot, fry the sausages for 4–5 minutes, turning now and then until nicely browned.
3. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper, then immediately tip the onions, carrots and garlic into the hot oil.
4. Stir regularly until the onions have started to soften – about 5 minutes – then add the peppers and beans. Keeping the heat quite high, mix everything together well and when it’s all properly hot, squeeze in the tomato purée.
5. Give it all a really good stir to coat in the tomato purée for 2–3 minutes, then tip the sausages back in, along with the tin of tomatoes, BBQ sauce, chicken stock and salt.
6. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/gas mark 4).
7. Bring the casserole to a busy simmer, and keep it simmering for 10 minutes or so, until the level of liquid has reduced down and bits of bean/sausage/veg are poking out the top. Remember to stir it every now and then, to make sure it’s not sticking anywhere on the bottom.
8. Pop a lid on and put it in the oven for 40 minutes, then take it out and leave to rest for 10 minutes before tucking in. Great with crusty bread and corn on the cob!
BUY THE BOOK HERE: The Secret Island by Enid Blyton
CLEMENTINE TREACLE TART
1 pack (about 300g) ready-made sweet shortcrust pastry + plain flour, for dusting
200g white bread, crusts off
6 clementines (or 2 large/3 small oranges)
500g golden syrup
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp milk
double cream, to serve
Or, If you want to make your own pastry:
170g plain flour + extra for dusting
60g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, cold and cut into 8 cubes
You will need a pie dish, approximately 24cm across and 5cm deep, either a slope-sided metal or china pie dish, or a fluted tart tin with a push-up bottom.
To make your own pastry:
1. Put the flour and icing sugar into the food processor and whizz for a few seconds, then leave it whizzing while you quickly drop the butter cubes in one by one. As soon as the last one is incorporated turn it off – it should have been whirring for less than 30 seconds in total.
2. Crack in the egg and spin for a final count of 5.
3. The pastry dough should more or less be in a ball. Use a rubber spatula to scrape it into a piece of cling film, wrap it up and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes or freezer for 15 minutes to have a bit of a rest.
To make the tart:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan/gas mark 5).
2. Scatter a handful of flour on your work surface and roll out your homemade or ready-made pastry until it’s about 0.5cm thick.
3. Lay it into your chosen dish, pushing it into the base and up the sides well with your fingertips. Pressing round the edge with the tines of the a fork is a simple, classic way to finish a pie edge, but if you’re using a tart tin without a border, then it’s easiest to just roll over the top with a rolling pin, thus cutting off the excess.
4. Use the offcuts for plugging any cracks you spot after the blind-baking stage to follow. If you have any left over after that, you could stick it in the freezer for next time – pastry lasts for ages in the freezer.
5. When your tart case is beautifully lined, pop it back in the fridge to firm up again for about 30 minutes (or if you’re in a hurry, in the freezer for 15 minutes).
6. When it’s firm, line the pastry case with baking paper, fill it with baking beans and put it on the bottom shelf of the oven to bake for 10–12 minutes.
7. Take it out of the oven, carefully lift out the baking paper and beans and set them aside. Turn the pastry case round 180° so it colours evenly, and pop it back in the oven.
8. Cook for 5 more minutes. While it is cooking, separate the egg, putting the yolk and white into separate mugs. Whip the white with a fork until loose and frothy.
9. Take the tart out of the oven, give it a thorough brush with the beaten egg white and put it back in for 5 more minutes so this glaze can set hard and shiny. All of this in-and-out of the oven is to stop the tart having a soggy bottom – what a letdown that would be!
10. Meanwhile, put the crustless bread into a food processor and whizz briefly to make fluffy breadcrumbs.
11. Zest (finely grate the peel) the clementines (or oranges) using the small holes on a grater, a microplane or a zester if you have one.
12. In a medium saucepan on a low heat, stir the breadcrumbs, zest and golden syrup as it warms through and becomes runny and combined. Do not let it boil.
13. Turn the heat off, cool slightly, then stir in the juice from the clementines (or oranges) and lemon.
14. Take the egg yolk you’ve set aside, add the milk, and briefly whisk with a fork to make your eggwash.
15. Pour the filling into the prepared pastry case, brush the eggwash around the edge of the pastry, then bake in the bottom half of the oven for about 30 minutes – give or take a few mins depending on your oven – until puffed up and perfect.
16. Resist temptation and that enticing aroma and leave to cool until almost room temperature, before tucking in – hot syrup can scald! Dreamy with a bit of double cream.
BUY THE BOOK HERE: The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
GORGEOUS GINGER BEER
Makes 2.5 L
fresh ginger (about 15g), unpeeled and finely chopped
1 unwaxed lemon, thickly sliced
300g golden caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
¾ tsp dried fast-action yeast
lemon or lime wedges, to serve
You’ll also need enough bottles to store 3 litres of liquid. Used mineral water bottles are easiest, as you don’t have to sterilize them – simply keep the lids on once they’re empty and rinse just before using. For other bottles, run them through the dishwasher and screw their lids back on as soon as they come out.
Note: this will take several days to be ready to drink.
1. Put all of the ingredients except the yeast into a large pan over a medium heat, along with 750ml of cold water.
2. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time until all the sugar is dissolved, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Turn the heat off, add 1½ litres of cold water, sprinkle the yeast on top, cover with a lid and put in a cool place overnight.
4. The next day, strain the entire contents of the pan through a sieve into a big bowl. Then pour through a funnel to divide the liquid between the bottles, leaving a good four-finger gap at the top to allow for the build-up of gas that comes during the fermentation process – this is what makes our ginger beer fizzy!
5. Screw the lids on tightly and put back in the cool place for a second night.
6. The next morning, carefully unscrew the lids a bit to check if there has been any build-up of gas. Don’t be miffed if nothing has happened yet – depending on the yeast, time of year and temperature of your chosen spot, it’ll probably take 3–5 days to get fizzy, but just in case check it every 24 hours.
7. When you hear that satisfying fizz as you unscrew the lid, you can move the bottles into the fridge ready to drink. From this point, you’ve got about 3 or 4 days before it starts to taste a bit old and yeasty, but I’d be surprised if it hung around that long, especially when poured over ice with a piece of lemon or, even better, lime.
BUY THE BOOK HERE: The Famous Five by Enid Blyton
About Enid Blyton
Born in London in 1897, Enid Blyton has written over 500 children’s books which have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold to date over 500 million copies worldwide. Enid died in 1968. In the UK she still sells more than one book a minute. Visit the Enid Blyton official website to discover more.