I opened it at random (cheating really, I know the book so well that I knew I'd be opening it somewhere in the vegetable section) and came to a page with 6 recipes on it. I could have happily, and nostalgically, made any of them (except perhaps the one whose ingredients were simply a tin of asparagus, a tin of condensed chicken soup and four boiled eggs - I do have standards, you know) but Savoury Bean Bake was one for which I already had all the ingredients to hand, so I chose that.
It is simply a mixture of tinned baked beans, fried onions, chopped boiled eggs and grated cheese, topped with more cheese and breadcrumbs and baked. Not the kind of thing I'd usually use a recipe for, more the kind of thing I'd make up as I went along on a "using up odds and ends" day. But I'm a good girl, I follow the rules, so I assembled all the ingredients, including
2 tomatoes, skinnedThen I read the method. Those tomatoes, all skinned and slithery in my hands, were not mentioned anywhere. They're there in the ingredients, but after that they are redundant. Should they be chopped and added to the beans? Sliced and added as a separate layer? Baked as a side dish? Discarded completely? Oh, Ms Patten, I thought you were infallible! I've been using your book for 45 years, I'd never dream of using any other recipe for blancmange, flapjack or sage and onion stuffing, but this time you've really left me holding the tomatoes!
I took an executive decision to chop them and add them to the mixture, which by now was looking decidedly like sick.
It looked a bit better by the time it was in the gratin dish:
And a LOT better by the time it came out of the oven.
The verdict? Fine, but not really the kind of meal Mark and I often eat nowadays. But on a nostalgic day that had seen me eat prawn cocktail, complete with shredded iceberg lettuce, for lunch, it slotted in very nicely. And next time I'm clearing out the fridge I'll have another idea for using up odds and ends. But I won't bother with a recipe next time.