The first thing that struck me on leafing through this book is its's sheer beauty. On every page there is an evocative photograph or two of the glories of the British countryside and it's peerless ingredients. It is worth buying for the illustrations alone and I have already spent many happy hours just gazing longingly. And then the recipes - all simple, clearly written and eminently cookable as one has come to expect of National Trust publications.
The recipes are pure nostalgia; hearty homely fare from farm and country kitchens from all around Britain, including Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland. They are just the sort of food I wanted to eat as a child and would love to be able to cook today if I didn't live in in a climate unsuitable for them and where the ingredients just do not match their British counterparts for quality. Except for the cakes: out of the truly enticing and unusual selection I've made Mrs Watson's Iced Ginger Shortcake, the Welsh Gingerbread, Mary Edmund's Date Sandwich and the Apple Cake and can recommend them all.
The recipes as a whole are a mix of the well-known and the more unusual such as the Dish of Cheese ( an Edwardian recipe for a savoury), Lentil and Caraway Soup, Gillian Temple's Herwick Tatie Pot, Ulster Broth, Pease Pudding and Ham or Sponge Cake with Bilberries. Also a great recipe for Potted Beef just like my grandma's.
There are recipes for every kind of meat and game, jams, preserves and chutneys, bread, cakes,soups and sweets. I love the idea of Stilton and Celery soup, Cumberland Sausage in Beer, Staffordshire Steaks, My Lady's Shortcake, the Little Cheese Tartlets and the Lemon Refresher Cordial. In fact I love all the recipes.
I particularly enjoyed the section on Wales and the two different Cawl recipes, having lived in Wales and made and eaten many different variations on this theme. Also the section on Northern Ireland as this is generally neglected in books on British food and yet is a bit different to Irish food in general - Ulster Broth, Oatmeal Herring and Nettle Champ and Potato and Apple Cake among others.
This is an absolutely glorious book; if you are interested in British traditional and regional food you should have it on your shelves.