Fantastic Recipes from my Favourite People

The-Mary-Frances-Cook-Book - Enhanced ThumbnailWhen Poppy Fraiser got married, she suddenly realised she was expected to cook for her husband and panicked. Their courtship had been brief, and she had disguised her severe lack of culinary expertise. Within a week of domestic bliss, she had poisoned him and decided something must be done. Barely able to boil an egg, she enlisted the help of her friends and family, from her two tiny nephews to the Duchess of Cornwall, and started asking around for easy and foolproof recipes.

The result is Fantastic Recipes From My Favourite People – a little cookbook with recipes that range from the sublime to the ridiculous and includes everything from starters and soups, to breakfasts, main courses, puddings, cakes and odds and sods. My personal favourite, and evidently Poppy’s too, is Wenty Beaumont’s ‘Pressed Bacon,’ which can’t be beaten for its sheer absurdity.If you’re clueless as to how to roast a chicken or even make a simple vinaigrette, this little book is just for you.

Pressed Bacon on a Bed of Sweetcorn Surprise

Wenty Beaumont

Wenty’s grandfather had a party trick of getting the iron out when he was entertaining and pressing the bacon before serving to his guests.
This is one of my favourite recipes from the book and I only wish there were more people like him around today.

Place bacon in a warm buttered baking tray, ensuring that some butter is also smeared on top of the bacon. Place an old iron, preferably pre-1970s, on the hottest hob available. Leave iron until as hot as possible.
When it is literally red hot, remove it from the hot hob and press down on top of the bacon. Gently iron the bacon in the same way you would iron the collar of a shirt, applying more butter to encourage crispiness.
The pressed bacon should be served on a small bed of sweetcorn surprise – warn, drained sweetcorn, flavoured with a light drizzling of blue dragon sweet chilli sauce. Soy sauce is also a suitable addition to this, as is ketchup and mayonnaise.
To complete, cook a fried egg in the bacon juice and place on top of the bacon, which should by this stage be on top of the steaming sweetcorn surprise.


Patrick Lichfield
This, apparently, was one of Roald Dahl’s favourites. It is one of mine too. When oxtail was banned during the BSE crisis, I used to have friendly butchers who would kindly pass it under the counter to me surreptitiously.

  • 2 oxtails, fat trimmed off
  • 4 tbls olive oil
  • 3 medium onions finely chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2 tlbs flour
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbls redcurrant jelly
  • 2 pts strong beef or vegetable stock

Heat oil in a heavy casserole, brown oxtail all over. Set oxtail aside, lower heat and sauté onions and garlic until transparent, add carrots, stir, then put back oxtail. Cover with stock and lid. Place in oven 120°C for three hours. Lift out the oxtail with a slatted spoon onto a dish, cover with foil and leave overnight with the stock covered in the casserole in fridge. The next day skim all the fat off the stock, placing some into a saucepan, over a moderate heat blend into the flour, stirring to make a roux. Take off the heat and add the jellied stock, put back on the heat and bring up to boil stirring continuously then simmer for 2-3 minutes, add the redcurrant jelly, continue to stir till dissolved.

Put oxtails into the sauce, place into the oven 350°C for approx 1.5-2 hours, until cooked.

— Lucinda Baring

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