Literary Recipes: cooking like your favourite character

After doing my baking this long weekend I got to thinking about food in literature and after a quick search I found a number of poetic recipes to keep any literary foodie inspired. Ever wanted to cook like your favourite character or writer? Henry Perowne? John Steinbeck? Now you can…


From Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday, with revisions by the author.

Into a stockpot of boiling water (a litre or more), put the bones of three skates (or other boned fish), with heads intact. If you have no obliging local fishmonger, use a pound or more of white fish.

Add a dozen or so mussels to the stock. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, strip and chop three onions and eight fat cloves of garlic. Soften over a low heat in a casserole with a lot of olive oil. When they have melted sufficiently, add: a couple of crushed red chillies, a pinch of saffron, some bay leaves, orange-peel gratings, oregano, five anchovy fillets, two cans of peeled tomatoes

When these have blended together in the heat, add a quarter bottle of white wine. Then strain off the stock and add to the casserole. Simmer the mix for 20 minutes.

Rinse and/or scrub the clams and remaining mussels and place in a bowl.

Cut the monkfish tails into chunks and place in a separate bowl.

Wash the tiger prawns and add to the monkfish bowl. Keep both bowls refrigerated until ready to cook. Just before dinner, reheat the casserole.

Simmer the clams, monkfish, mussels and prawns in the casserole for ten minutes.

Eat the stew with brown bread, or garlic bread, salad and a hearty red wine.

via The Sunday Times



40g butter
4 eggs
Ground pepper
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons tarragon (fresh or dried)

“Mrs B- was not used to disagreeing with the better informed mind of Lady Cumberland, and now, her every cherished opinion of parsley’s worth overthrown, she turned her eye to rarer visitors, including the tarragon. She had always thought tarragon a difficult herb and hard to please. ‘It refuses to grow here, it refuses to grow there, but fancies itself so very great, disappearing every winter I know not where. I quite detest the plant.’”



500g cherries, 3 eggs
150g flour, 150g sugar
10g yeast, prepared in warm water if necessary
100g butter, 1 cup of milk

“When the flour came it was a delight, a touch left on her cheek as she brushed aside a wisp of hair, as if her beauty bored her and she wanted to be like other people, insignificant, sitting in a widow’s house with her pen and paper…”



3 dessertspoons fermented miso
150g silken tofu
4-5 small mushrooms
A few leaves of dried wakame

“He placed three spoonfuls of the miso into a saucepan and poured on two pints of hot water, shielding the process from the panel as he did so. He became angry with himself for thinking of the new arrivals as a panel; they had not announced their purpose in calling on him and as yet he did not know what position each of them held.”



Extra virgin olive oil
25g porcini mushrooms
1 onion, 2 cloves garlic
200g risotto rice
500ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper,
60g parmesan
1 glass white wine

“The parmesan cheese was hard and dry. The cook grated what little she had. The cheese grated coarsely, like maize from the thresher; the cheese grated finely, like the first powder snow; the cheese grated in shavings, like the wood thrown up from her husband’s plane.”

Last four and image via The Independent

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4 thoughts on “Literary Recipes: cooking like your favourite character

  1. I recently made “Tomato Soup Cake” a la poet Sylvia Plath! I took the creation to an English Dept. theme party, and it was a hit. I had to sneak home a slice for myself! It was fun making it, and then I got to share it and then write about it. It was a fun experience! I think I’d going to sample an Emily Dickinson recipe next! Cooking like that takes me back in time. Thanks for the post!

    Like this

  2. Pingback: 9 Park Slope BBF Events (And What to Eat Before You Go) | Park Slope Stoop

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