How to Cook Like a Toff – Romantic Dinner for Two

Prunella teaches you how to cook like a toff!

Yes. I know. Unlikely. However, sometimes one needs to make the effort. Men can be very simple beings, treat them kindly and they will do what you require. Hence…

To succeed you really do need to move your mind away from salmon en croute with baby vegetables. And why is this, so I hear you cry? Remove your nose from whatever luridly illustrated cookery book you are currently espousing and consider the creature to whom you are wed.
If, like the Hon. Rodney and most of his chums, your husband is the product of nanny, minor public school, and the armed forces, he has much less refined appetites than he would like to admit to. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is wasted on him: give him own-label red from one of the German supermarkets in a big glass, or a pint of old stumpblaster, and he’s a happy man. Similarly with food. Do not waste your time and effort on some delicate, complicated, small thing on a pretty plate. He. Will. Not. Appreciate. It.
No. The way to his heart is beef stew. With dumplings. Followed by jam roly-poly.
Now you’re stumped aren’t you? Your cordon bleu classes didn’t prepare you for that one.
Very well. In the spirit of female solidarity. I shall divulge.
The stew.
In a very large saucepan place the following. Diced beef (skirt for preference, or rump). Chopped onion. Diced carrot. Three or four potatoes cut small these will cook down and thicken the gravy. Cover with stock (cube stuff is perfectly fine). Do not be tempted to add herbs, spices or seasoning. This thing needs to be bland. Place on the range and bring to a simmer. Cook very gently for at least two hours. After which add more potatoes, peeled and chunked. Add more stock to cover potatoes. Cook gently for as long as it takes to cook potatoes until they are good and soggy.
In the meantime prepare dumplings and roly-poly.
You need 2lb self-raising flour, 1lb shredded suet (from a box, do not be bothering to shred your own). Add two beaten eggs and enough water to make a softish dough. Halve the dough.
Make half into balls about testicle size.
Roll the other half into a rectangle about a nine by six inches. It should be quite thick. Spread thinly with strawberry jam and roll up. Liberally butter a bit of tin foil large enough to enclose and seal your jam roll. Dump the roll on the foil and seal carefully.
When the potatoes in the stew are satisfactorily soggy, bring the pot up to a gentle boil and lob in your dumplings. Lid on and they will be done in about half an hour.
And now to boil the roly-poly. Here is where grandmother’s fish kettle comes in very handy shove about three inches of water in that blasted thing and when it comes to a rolling boil throw in the foil-wrapped delicacy. Do not let the water come off the boil and don’t let it boil dry. Otherwise it can be safely left to its own devices.
Call your spouse to the table and dish him up a large bowl of stew. Once he is outside that carefully get the roly-poly out of the boiling water and unroll it from its foil coffin. Serve a thick slice accompanied by a jug of custard. From a can if you like, although the most brownie points can be accumulated by making very thick custard (no, not the eggy sort, the yellow cornflour sort) and allowing a skin to form.

Normally one would offer an alternative menu, but in this case there is none. All that remains to be done at this point is to either confess to the dent in the Range Rover, or mention the bracelet you have seen in a certain jewellery emporium.
Either way I have provided you with the tools to ensure your ‘lord and master’ is but putty in your hands.

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