What Jessie Did Next...

...being the inane ramblings of a mundane Yorkshire bird.

I was catching up on back episodes of Gordon Ramsay’s series The F-Word last night, where he’s been asking people to send in (or even just state) the most useless recipe books they had. The finalists were Ainsley Harriott, Anthony Worral-Thompson, and Delia Smith.

The first two I can understand – Harriott’s recipes don’t feel particularly accessible and even given a well-stocked Sainsburys it can be quite a slog getting hold of ingredients. I’ve never owned or tried a Worral-Thompson recipe so I can’t comment on his technique but I can imagine they’re much the same. What did surprise the erstwhile Mr Ramsay was the presence of Delia in that list.

I’m not surprised in the slightest. I own several Delia books which I’ve picked up at car boot sales, etc. over the years, and of all the recipes I’ve tried I’ve never had one success. Now I consider myself a competent(ish) home cook – not a professional or even approaching professional level, but I like to tinker and potter around the kitchen. I find that if I treat a recipe by chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay with a bit of ‘bucket chemistry’, I can extend it – sort of like an open-source kitchen I guess – but the space isn’t really there with Delia recipes and they’re such an arse to get right in the first place it’s nigh-on impossible to do it properly. Come to think of it, the last time I referred to Delia was when I needed cooking times for a goose, and that sort of stuff gets looked up in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s meat book.

We do have a lot of recipe books though, and some magazines. I should go through them and chuck out the crap, but they’re always good to browse through for ideas if nothing else. If you’re curious I occasionally note down recipes I’ve discovered/invented in my recipe archive – I strongly recommend Rachel’s dad’s chicken recipe, it’s great if you’re entertaining friends for an evening.


  1. I’ve had a few delia recipes work ok for me. I reckon the reason delia was in the list is because people don’t like her as a person.

  2. Well – she is an old trout after all

  3. Arse!

  4. Perhaps it’s because you consider yourself to be only a ‘competent’ cook that Delia’s recipes don’t work for you? Have more confidence in your abilities and you may be surprised at how easy her stuff works. I found this blog because I was searching for one of her recipes – a PROPER Chilli-con-Carne (which, by the way isn’t made with mincemeat)which contains chocolate chips. I have made it twice and it was superb. Unfortunately I have lost the recipe :o(

  5. I’m not so sure – I’ve had Delia recipes where I’ve worked *exactly* to the recipe and it’s not worked. Then again, I’ve had Delia recipes since where I’ve deviated away and it’s worked fine.

    If it’s Chilli, I can strongly recommend Martin’s recipe which is over at http://blog.hinterlands.org… and my variant and experiments are noted at http://blog.jessicat.me.uk/inde… 🙂

    I think I know the one you mean tho – it’s the one using great big chunks of beef? If so, I can always type it up for you: it’s in the ‘Complete Cookery Course’ book.

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