ABOUT THE LITTLE LIBRARY COOKBOOK
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Bear Called Paddington, Michael Bond
Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
(COLD) APPLE PIE
The Railway Children, E. Nesbit
Redwall, Brian Jacques
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
AN EGG BOILED VERY SOFT
Emma, Jane Austen
GREEN EGGS & HAM
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr Seuss
The Camomile Lawn, Mary Wesley
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
RICE, MISO, PICKLES, EGG
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A LOAF OF BREAD, PEPPER, VINEGAR & OYSTERS
Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Lewis Carroll
WILD GARLIC & POTATO SALAD
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
CRAB & AVOCADO SALAD
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
POTATO & LEEK SOUP WITH RYE BREAD
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
Danny, the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl
My Life in France, Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
THIN PASTRY WITH SPICED BEEF
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
GIN MARTINI & CHICKEN SANDWICH
Franny and Zooey, J. D. Salinger
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
A FARMHOUSE LUNCH FOR FIVE
Steak and Ale Pie; Pickled Beetroot; Pickled Onions
Five on a Hike Together, Enid Blyton
after noon (tea)
HUNNY & ROSEMARY CAKES
Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne
BREAD, BUTTER & HONEY
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
The Butterfly Lion, Michael Morpurgo
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
MERINGUES & ICED COFFEE
A Room with a View, E. M. Forster
The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford
In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
VANILLA LAYER CAKE
Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pumpkin Scones; Lamingtons; Anzac Biscuits
Possum Magic, Mem Fox
the dinner table
My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
A THOUSAND PORK & GINGER DUMPLINGS
The Kitchen God’s Wife, Amy Tan
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A FINE CURRY
Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
FISH & CHIPS
The Bear Nobody Wanted, Janet and Allen Ahlberg
Excellent Women, Barbara Pym
Two Weeks with the Queen, Morris Gleitzman
STEAK & ONIONS
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
BLACK ICE CREAM
The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Dodie Smith
BREAD & BUTTER PUDDING
Atonement, Ian McEwan
Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
FIGS & CUSTARD
Dubliners, James Joyce
TREACLE TART & ROSEMARY ICE CREAM
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling
DINNER FOR TWO AT THE ENGLAND
Turbot in Lemon Sauce; Chicken with Tarragon; Fruit in Liqueur
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
THE WOMEN’S MEAL
Vegetable Consommé; Beef, Greens and Potatoes; Prunes in Armagnac with Brown Bread and Butter Ice Cream
A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
Northern Lights, Philip Pullman
CREAMED HADDOCK ON TOAST
Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
Tomorrow, When the War Began, John Marsden
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken
Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto
SOUP & MUFFINS
A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling
The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
parties & celebrations
AN ENORMOUS ROUND CHOCOLATE CAKE
Matilda, Roald Dahl
THE QUEEN OF HEARTS’ TARTS
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
PEAR & LEMON BIRTHDAY CAKE
Comet in Moominland, Tove Jansson
My Naughty Little Sister, Dorothy Edwards
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Diary of a Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
QUEEN ANN’S PUDDING
Ulysses, James Joyce
THREE KINGS’ DAY BREAD
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
What Katy Did, Susan Coolidge
MARMADUKE SCARLET’S FEAST
Saffron Cake; Cream Horns; Cornish Pasty
The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge
Wombats Don’t Have Christmas, Jane Burrell and Michael Dugan
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, Agatha Christie
NEW YEAR’S DAY TURKEY CURRY
Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
ABOUT KATE YOUNG
I have always been a highly suggestible, hungry reader. When discovering a new book, or revisiting an old favourite, my mind wanders, imagining what the food the characters are enjoying would taste like. A passing mention of a ripe summer strawberry, a fragrant roast chicken, or a warming mug of hot chocolate sends me straight to the kitchen, book still in hand.
I can’t remember not being able to cook; I have been doing so since I was old enough to reach the kitchen bench. I grew up in a home where food was much more than sustenance; it was intrinsic to our social lives, what we played and experimented with, and an enduring passion for all of us. From an early age, I read cookbooks for their stories and for their recipes, marking up things I wanted to try, and committing beloved phrases to memory.
The food I cook now is inspired by many things: the English seasons, my childhood in Australia, meals I have eaten with family, trips I have taken, techniques I’ve learnt from friends. As I left home, and began to cook for myself, I also drew inspiration from my favourite books, which hold in their pages some of the most tangible food memories I possess.
When I wasn’t in the kitchen, my childhood was spent in books. I’d read anything I could get my hands on: instruction manuals, road directories, the backs of cereal boxes. I was hungry for words and for stories in whatever form I could get them. On weekends, my dad would push me out of our front door towards the park, encouraging me to run around in the fresh air until dusk. Little did he know that I always had a book tucked into my bike shorts, and would instead hide under a tree somewhere, losing myself in Jane Austen’s Regency England, Enid Blyton’s seaside Devon or Harper Lee’s Depression-era Alabama. My childhood was idyllic: sunny, surrounded by green space, and with a brilliant little sister by my side, but I spent much of it in parallel fictional worlds.
As I grew up and then moved away from Australia, my love for reading didn’t dim. Instead, the books I had read as a child became imbued with a strong sense of nostalgia and found places on my shelves alongside new favourites. I found that I could often remember exactly where I was when I had read each book for the first time. Far away from home, these memories provided real comfort. I re-read books when I was missing my folks, or my friends, or the beach. Doing this, I discovered that the passages utmost in my memory were often food-related. And so, as well as reading them, I started cooking from them too.
The food I created was like a portal to my past. One bite of a treacle tart took me straight back to my bottom bunk at my dad’s, where I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I toasted a batch of muffins, slathered them in butter, and could picture my mum reading A Little Princess to my sister and me from the floor of our bedroom. The scent of a honey cake transported me to the back seat of our old car, listening to Alan Bennett readWinnie-the-Pooh on audiotape as we drove to Canberra.
As I started writing about these literary/culinary links, friends and family (and, later, strangers) began to get in touch, telling me of their favourite fictional food memories. So many of us seemed to have a shared childhood: time spent dreaming of eating sardines and drinking ginger beer on Kirrin Island with the Famous Five; feeling jealous of Bruce and his infamous chocolate cake; and wondering what on earth Green Eggs and Ham might taste like. It is not something we grow out of either. We imagine the dripping crumpets at Manderley in Rebecca, and find our mouths watering at the thought of the perfect steak in The End of the Affair.
I wanted to write this book to share some of my favourite representations of food in fiction. I sincerely hope that these pages will take you back to places you discovered as a child, reveal new books you’re yet to discover, send you to parts of the world you have wanted to visit, and seat you at the kitchen table with characters you would like to spend time with. Happy reading, and happy eating.
On the recipes
This book is a bringing together of recipes that made my mouth water when I first read of them. I love to spend a Saturday in the kitchen, so there are extravagant baking projects to be found that will take a good few hours to finish. I am also, most often, impatient to sit down to a plate of something delicious, so there are also simple suppers and quick breakfasts (many appropriate to eat at any time of day), which can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.
While I have experimented with Georgian, Regency and Victorian recipes, especially when cooking from books likeAnna Karenina or A Christmas Carol, I want the recipes to work well for your oven, using ingredients available from your local supermarket. So, for the most part, I have updated the recipes rather than adhering religiously to the original techniques.
Where appropriate, I have spoken with friends, acquaintances and sometimes strangers about the dishes that were initially less familiar to me. What has become abundantly clear is that there is no ‘right way’ of making anything – much like my mum and her curried sausages, families and individuals will have their own variations. What I have included here are the versions I find most delicious.
On ingredients and equipment
The cookbooks I love most are the ones that feel like a helpful grandmother standing with you at the stove, offering advice, helpful hints and suggestions. I want this book to fill that place in your kitchen.
There are very few recipes in this book that you will need to buy equipment for. I am really keen that these recipes are accessible and achievable in any kitchen and so, where possible, I have included alternatives to mixers, ice-cream machines and any equipment that serves only one use. There are always alternatives. In testing recipes for this book, I have rolled out pastry with an empty wine bottle, made my own cream horn molds from scrap cardboard and aluminium foil and used drinking glasses in place of biscuit cutters. The equipment listed is, therefore, only a guide. It is not there to put you off, rather to let you know before you reach Step 8 that a fine-mesh sieve might be useful.
That said, when it comes to baking, I have included specific dimensions for cake tins. If you want to use something you already have in your cupboard (which I regularly do), be aware you may need to slightly adjust baking temperatures or cooking times. If you’re not a confident baker, I would recommend sticking with the tin size and temperature if possible.
In terms of baking ingredients, unless otherwise stated I have tested these recipes using large eggs, whole milk and unsalted butter. Again, I often end up using what I have in my fridge/cupboard when I cook, but if you are new to cake baking, I would suggest you try, where possible, to use the ingredients without substitutions – different sugar, flour or butter will often make a difference to the outcome.
Most of the ingredients included in this book are ones I can find at my local supermarket, but I am lucky to have easy access to places stocking ingredients from Asia and the Middle East. If you’re finding it tricky to source an ingredient, and really want to give a recipe a try, there are lots of online shops that deliver, or feel free to run a quick Google search for an alternative.
ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT LIST
Chopping knife and board
Fork, knife and spoon
Greaseproof paper, plastic wrap and aluminium foil
Large and small saucepans
I am a hoarder of books. No matter how tatty they become, I find it difficult to let them go. I have copies that have swelled and distorted because I’ve dropped them in the bath; a couple that I rescued after finding them abandoned on a footpath; and two or three that seem always to have sand trapped in their spines, because I once read them on the beach. Quite apart from the stories they contain, the books themselves are stories; they’ve been with me on holidays, we’ve survived long commutes together, and they have sat happily on my bookshelves until the precise moment I needed them.
I have been collecting books for as long as I can remember. Battered paperbacks and beautiful clothbound editions, bought with vouchers and pocket money, lined the shelves in my childhood bedroom. Most of them now inhabit the spare room at my mum’s house, including the very special hardcover set of Harry Potter novels that my family bought for me when I turned twenty-one – the last books I read before I left home.
My local libraries were a haven during my years at school. On their shelves I discovered exciting worlds and characters I wanted to meet. I wasn’t an unhappy child, but I was plump and a little awkward and certainly shyer than I pretended to be, and so school wasn’t always easy. I excelled in lessons, but my weekends were spent with my parents, my sister and our extended family. At school I never had a solid group of friends and so, like so many other people I know, books became a refuge for me through those tricky teenage years.
At university, I finally found my crowd; people around whom I could properly be myself. I immersed myself in theatre, reading plays in their dozens, alongside books on producing and teaching. I got to know the university library and its extensive fiction section. In my final summer in Australia – after graduation, but still in possession of my student card – I would borrow six novels at a time, and race through them, as if the move to England would somehow mean I’d have fewer books in my life. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
When I moved, I only knew three people: Reilly, Alex and Tim, all friends from university, trying their hand at life in London too. This circle grew over the months that followed, but in those early days, when I spent much of each day on long tube journeys, I read voraciously. I particularly sought out books set in England, delighting in moments where I would happen upon a street or a building referred to in something I was reading. I arrived in the UK with three books, but soon had hundreds, arranged in piles in every room of my flat.
I have lived a somewhat transient life for the past couple of years, and so most of my books are now in storage. When I visit friends, I spend time in front of their bookshelves, scanning the spines of familiar titles, searching for an old friend, or a new one. This practice has introduced me to new titles – well-read copies pressed into my hands by people I love.
Whenever I’ve neglected them, books have sat, waiting patiently, always ready for me to come back. They are the true constant in my life, the grounding force, the comfort when I am homesick, anxious or lonely, a true joy when I am not. With them, I can travel in space and time, around the world and to places that don’t exist, except on the page.
All the books I have featured here in this book are ones that I have read, and that are part of my story. Please consider this book a little library of personal recommendations; books I, as the librarian, would press into your hands with a glowing endorsement.