Category Archives: Blasts from the Past

A blog for Judy Babs

In this month’s edition of delicious magazine, James Martin highlights his Mum’s roast potatoes as being better than his (my mum, and me use his recipe and they are pretty special – cooked in duck fat so his mum’s must be AMAZING!) and he says most chefs will always say their mum is the best cook they know. Whilst i’m no chef, i do like to cook and so i thought id jump on the bandwagon and blog about my mum and her cooking.
Now if you’ve read my earlier posts i have mentioned how mum’s kedgeree put me, Elix and J off it for years and how our most hated dish of all is Lancashire Hotpot and even when mum tried to trick us into thinking it was a pie by putting a shortcrust pastry top on it to disguise it we wouldn’t be tricked and still whinged about it!
So a few things i should tell you about our mum and food (and she will most likely tell me off for this….)

  • She is a super fussy eater – she will dispute this but the list of things she doesn’t like is loooong – because she doesn’t like prawns or roast pork we didn’t try them until we were adults!
  • She likes food to be over-cooked. Well-done meat, hard boiled eggs – in fact just hard eggs (she wont sit at the table with a runny egg or some rare beef), and God forbid we try to feed her smoked salmon or sushi.
  • Mum cant say falafel……you will hear her say faaarl-arrrrr-fell
  • She makes the BEST ┬áSunday fried breakfast in the world complete with oatcakes (northern ones), potato cakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushroom and if we are lucky – black pudding
  • Dont go near her in the kitchen when she is cooking – she will chop your head off!
  • Her guilty pleasures are crisps (all kinds) and greggs sausage rolls.

Right – so they are the things i think best sum my mum up so you get an idea before you carry on….
Growing up in Manchester our upbringing wasn’t short of roast dinners, pies, stews, chippy tea and bread with dinner. But, i remember as a school child being one of the very few of my friends being fed homemade curries (as children we never had takeaway), fresh fish and having a mother who experimented with food whether it was her amazing goulash (recipe below), Jamie Oliver recipes (before Jamie Oliver was popular) or homemade vegetable soups and a mother who trusted her eldest daughter (me) to cook for the family!
The food mum cooked for us when we all lived at home has stayed in our memories and even now if Elix and I want some home comforts we turn to chicken in breadcrumbs, Elix’s favourite – breakfast for tea and spaghetti bolognese mum’s style! Elix’s chilli recipe is mum’s and we will always use her recipes for mac ‘n cheese, cottage pie and fish pie.

Mum really seemed to get into cooking when Jamie Oliver came onto the scene – we were treated to corned beef hash with fried egg on top, tuna pasta, fish pie with beans and peas (sounds weird but have faith in Jamie and my mum – it works!), baked cod with mozzarella and tomatoes, lamb curry and, recently yummy┬ápulled pork! Now she cooks new stuff almost every day with dishes more varied and inventive, she loves reading her food magazines and cookbooks and will always talk to me on the phone about the recipes she wants to cook next time we are at home or just the next day for dinner (in case you are interested tomorrow her and dad are having masala aubergine curry). She has mastered most of Rick Stein’s Mediterranean recipes along with a good chunk of Neil Perry’s and tonnes of recipes from Olive magazine.

Mum has been the main reason I am now so obsessed with cooking – allowing me (sometimes reluctantly!) to cook for the family when i was younger (even Christmas dinner!), teaching us her staple dishes and letting us help out – especially at Christmas when she makes her Christmas cake (the richest, juiciest, sweetest christmas cake iv ever had!). When we were on holiday as kids, we were always encouraged (or just downright told) to eat local dishes – just to try something new. My first try of calamari and paella were in Spain, sardines in Portugal and kleftiko in Corfu – so even though we were deprived of prawns and roast pork at home, we were always encouraged to be adventurous with food and now iv gone on to eat authentic curry in India, shark in Malaysia, Ostrich, Snails and Pigs ears – whilst im not sure Mum would try some of this I’m glad I have been raised to have the right attitude and try these amazing and varied foods!

So now for my mum’s goulash recipe…. it sounds weird but tastes amazing, and, when served on a cold, rainy evening with some crusty bread I guarantee you wont be happier.

Fry an onion until soft, add some minced beef with a sprinkle of worcester sauce and oregano and fry together. Meanwhile, in another pan boil some, peeled, cubed potatoes. Back to the mince mixture – add baked beans (yes – heinz baked beans!) along with chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and peas. Cook together until simmering. As the potatoes are softening, add to the mince mix with some of the potato water and a beef stock cube and mix all together. Its better to cook this ahead of time so the flavours have chance to infuse and enrich.

I have no idea as to the origin of this recipe – I think once she told us this was from her Polish heritage (her father was Polish) but having experienced goulash in Eastern Europe its nothing like it so I assume she is talking nonsense and just made the recipe up one day! Haha!

So thats all for my blog for my mum – I hope I have done her and her cooking justice in my tales and if she reads this she realises I have her to thank for my cooking skills and passion for cooking and food which are a huge part of the person I have become.

me and mum