Yesterday I picked up my mother-in-laws school dinner recipe book – she was the cook in charge of the kitchen at the local primary, and I looked at the recipes from over sixty years ago and thought what an ill-deserved bad reputation school dinners had… I daresay there were a lot of bad cooks in school kitchens, and as subsidies were cut it became more difficult – but these recipes with a few tweaks stand the test of time!
As I mentioned yesterday, children then would have walked to school, sometimes miles from the farms they lived on, there was no central heating, no ready supply of sweets and crisps and fizzy sugary drinks, and many of the ingredients were locally sourced.
Again, I give the school dinner quantities!
- 12½ lbs beef, mutton or lamb
- 2½ lbs minced onion
- 5 lbs minced carrot
- 1½ lbs tomato purée
- ¾ lb flour for thickening
- 2½ lbs very finely grated cheese
- chopped parsley
- 3½ lbs spaghetti
The instructions are simple, cook the meat and vegetables with seasoning, cook the spaghetti, sprinkle with parsley and serve with cheese separate. Apart from lack of garlic and other herbs, and frying the meat in something other than oil it’s not far off what my husband is preparing right now at this very moment! He won’t thicken it with flour but let it reduce, but time is not pressing for him! These days mutton is almost unobtainable, and lamb would be too expensive if they still had school kitchens which cooked meals. In some recipes veal is used – not on many ordinary menus anywhere today!
Various herbs are in other recipes, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, mint sage, and a couple of recipes call for anchovy essence which seems very modern – although obviously it isn’t! There’s a liberal use of spices, of curry, paprika, capers, peppercorns and cayenne pepper.
Maybe after the bolognaise, Hayton tart to follow – with either a fruit or chocolate filling – I know what most kids would opt for!
- rich flan pastry made with 7½ lbs of flour
- meringue – 36 egg whites, 3½ lbs castor sugar
- filling no.1 – 3 lbs apricot jam, 10 lbs cooking apples cut into ½ inch slices
- filling no 2. – 4½ lbs block chocolate cut into chips
- make flan case and bake blind
- make the meringue
- filling no.1 – spread the cases with jam, fold apples into meringue spread in cases, dust with castor sugar
- filling no 2. – fold the chocolate chips into the meringue, spread in pastry cases
- bake in a slow oven until meringue set (and the apples cooked for filling no. 1)
In case you’re wondering where Hayton is, there is one Hayton in Cumbria, 8 miles east of Carlisle and about 10 miles from the border with Scotland, there is another near Retford in Nottinghamshire, and another in the East Riding of Yorkshire not far from Pocklington.