Lockdown Day 60 (Friday 22 May)

Lovely article by Fay Maschler about her lockdown recipes, and how she started cooking at the age of 12 using Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. She starts her new weekly column of her own recipes with her sister Beth’s fishcakes. I love looking at people’s recipe books, it’s always a good insight into their cooking: do they actually cook? Which books are falling apart and covered in signs of use? Which have never been touched?

“Beth’s fishcakes

You may not remember The Great Fishcake War of the early 1980s. Fishcakes, that consoling nursery dish, had made a comeback on chic menus and credit for the fact was claimed by my sister Beth Coventry, who was cooking at Green’s in St. James’s, and also by Charles Fontaine, then chef of Le Caprice nearby. Try to imagine whose side I was during this harrowing, victimless conflict. Now that Beth has her own gastropub she has to persuade her chef to put fishcakes on the menu because, when he does, hardly anything else gets ordered. So make your own, and choose something different from the takeaway menu that The Wells Tavern in Hampstead is currently offering.

Time to prepare and cook: 45 minutes

You will need: white fish and smoked fish – the sustainable species pollack is now available smoked – potatoes, spring onions, eggs, milk, flour, breadcrumbs.


  • Use twice as much fish by weight as potatoes. Peel the potatoes, boil until soft, drain and mash with pepper, salt and nutmeg. 
  • Poach the two kinds of fish in milk for 4 or 5 minutes or until they are opaque and flake easily when you have removed them from the milk. 
  • Slice some trimmed spring onions finely and mix with the fish and potatoes. If you have parsley to hand, some of that well-chopped is good stirred in.  
  • Add a whole beaten egg, or just the yolk, if you have a small amount of mixture. 
  • Use your hands to get everything well integrated and shape the mixture into small cakes. Flour them lightly and fry in hot oil until golden and heated through. Better still, flour them, turn them in another beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs before frying. 
  • A home-made tomato sauce makes a fine accompaniment, but so does ketchup or tartare sauce.”
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