Cookbook 84: Cooking for compliments

I can only assume that Scott’s mother bought this book second hand somewhere due to nostalgia, and then gave it to Scott when he moved out, so he’d have a cookbook that she really loved.  Cooking for compliments by Ruth Morgan was published in 1968, it’s lovely full of UK Imperial measurements and is surprisingly popular given you can still get it second hand on Amazon.

The book claims that all recipes were tested in their kitchen and that these recipes are for anyone regardless of cooking ability – that claim I certainly dispute.  Like many cookbooks from its time, the recipe photos are less than inspiring and make you wonder why people thought these things looked like edible food.  Some of the dishes are odd as well, ham or bacon mysteriously turns up in vegetable dishes, as if the thought of eating vegetables without garnish or additional meat is some kind of weirdness.  Some of the language used to describe ingredients in the recipes is also strange, I’m still not 100% sure what “chicken joints” actually means, but I am now positive it does not mean chicken maryland.  I’ll also do my best to translate the imperial measurements into metric for ease of use.  I don’t think I’ll cook from this book again, I give it 2 stars out of 5.

Chicken casserole with lemon


  • 6 chicken joints
  • salt and pepper
  • 57g (2oz) butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 peeled, sliced onion
  • 2 rounded tablespoons plain flour
  • 284 ml (0.5 pint) chicken stock
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 level teaspoon sugar


  1. Wipe the chicken joints and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat butter and oil in frying pan and fry joints quickly till golden brown all over.  Transfer to a casserole dish.
  2. Add peeled and sliced onion to the frying pan and cook till tender, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook 1 minute.  Blend in the stock and bring to the boil stirring.  Add sliced lemon, bay leaves, seasoning and sugar.  Pour over chicken.
  3. Cover and cook in a moderately hot oven 190C (170C fan forced) for about 45 minutes till chicken is cooked.  Remove lid 15 minutes before end of cooking time to allow to brown.

Notes on this recipe:

  • It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t all that good either.  It might have helped if I had used chicken pieces smaller than maryland, but I didn’t know what to use.  It was lemony, the left over chicken made excellent stock.
  • Will not cook again.

Scrunchy potatoes


  • 454g (1 pound) potatoes
  • boiling salted water
  • 113g – 142g butter (4 – 5 oz)
  • 2 medium-seized peeled and sliced onions
  • 4 thick slices of white bread


  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into even-sized pieces.  Cook in boiling salted water until tender, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan.  Add the peeled and sliced onions and fry until golden and tender.  Remove from pan.
  3. Trim crusts from bread.  Cut bread into small cubes and fry in remaining butter in pan until golden brown and crisp all over.  Remove from pan with draining spoon and drain well on kitchen paper.
  4. Add prepared bread cubes and onions to the well-drained potatoes and toss over gentle heat 2 – 3 minutes.

Notes on this recipe:

  • It tasted of butter and caramelised onions.  The last bit of that wasn’t so bad, the rest of it was the heart attack waiting to creep up on you later.
  • If you’d caramelised the onions in less butter, and then added the potatoes to the pan, stirred in several whisked eggs – you could have made a fritatta… that would have been nicer – and a different recipe.
  • Will not make again – only useful for the fact that drowning onions in melted butter means that they caramelise quicker.

Carrot Flan

I used heirloom carrots in this recipe, hence the different shades of carrot

Pastry ingredients:

  • 226g plain flour (8 oz)
  • good pinch salt
  • 113g butter (4 oz)
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

Flan ingredients:

  • 453 g carrots (1 pound)
  • boiling salted water
  • 28g melted butter (1 oz)
  • 568ml milk (0.5 pint)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper



  1. Keep everything as cool as possible.  Sift flour and salt into bowl.  Add the butter and cut into flour using a knife.
  2. Using fingertips only to rub the butter into the flour to make a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir waster in with a knife, then draw mixture together with fingers to form a firm but pliable dough.  Knead gently on a lightly floured board till free from cracks.
  4. Roll out the pastry 5cm (2 inches) larger than the 28cm (11 inch) greased pie dish.


  1. Line the greased pie dish with the pastry.  Place a 30cm round of grease proof paper in flan and fill with baking beans (or rice).  Bake in a hot oven 200C (or 180C if fan forced) for 5 – 10 minutes.  Remove paper and beans/rice, return to oven for 5 minutes or until pastry is cooked.
  2. Peel and slice the carrots, cook in boiling salted water for 8 minutes.  Drain well, toss in the melted butter, cool slightly.  Arrange in overlapping circles in the flan.
  3. Heat the milk with onion studded with cloves, add bay leaf, cool and strain.  Beat eggs with strained milk and seasoning.
  4. Pour into the flan.  Bake above centre in 200C (180C if fan forced) oven for 25 minutes till egg is set.  Serve hot or cold.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This was the best recipe we made on this night.  I was at first dubious about the heated milk with cloves and onion, but that’s really how commercial quiches have that special something, it smells simply amazing.
  • To cool the milk quickly, put the saucepan in a sink filled with cold water, and stir the water around the saucepan (or a bowl if your saucepan won’t fit in your sink).
  • Probably the only recipe in the entire book I’d make again – and now I have it written down, I don’t need to make it from this book.

French apple tart


  • 4 – 6 prepared puff pastry sheets (thawed)
  • 680g apples (1.5 pounds)
  • lemon juice
  • caster sugar
  • 85g butter (3 oz)

Apricot glaze

  • 6 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoons brandy (optional)


  1. Cut about 3 cm squares from each pastry sheet.  Roll the sides of the pastry up to make a rectangle with sides.  Dampen the left over squares and use them to hold the corners in place (you’re smart, you can figure this out – this is an entire change from the existing recipe which uses a lump of puff pastry as that was once available to buy – actually just go and make an apple pie, it’ll be much better than this).
  2. Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Slice each quarter thinly.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Arrange slices in overlapping rows on pastry.  Dust the apples well with caster sugar and dot with pieces of butter.
  3. Bake on shelf above centre of a hot oven 200C (180g if fan forced) for 25 – 35 minutes until cooked through.  Coat with prepared apricot glaze.

Apricot glaze:

  1. Heat apricot jam and water in a small saucepan, stirring constantly.  Strain through a sieve.  Stir in brandy if using, and keep warm until required.

Notes on this recipe:

  • See my  note at Step 1 of the dish – you’ll be much happier making an apple pie, as will anyone else that is eating with you.  If you don’t know how to make an apple pie, see next recipe.