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The Cookery Book of Lady Clark of Tillypronie

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This is a book of culinary ideas and quite unlike any other cookery book. Lady Clark collected and made notes on hundreds of recipes from 1841 until the day she died in 1897. The notes were kept for her own use, and give the best picture of household life for the nearly sixty years they cover. Whenever she came across an interesting or unusual dish she asked her hostess, or the cook, how it was made. The recipe was then tried at Tillypronie and noted if it really worked.

After her death her husband, Sir John Clark, asked Catherine Frere to make a selection from 16 large notebooks and many loose notes, which she duly did -- discarding any recipes that had been published elsewhere --and the book appeared in 1909. The original edition had the recipes arranged in alphabetical order but the current Southover edition has seen them categorized into topics such as Soups and Broths (150 for soups alone), Sauces for Fish, Cheese and Cheese Dishes, for example, making it a treasure trove for cooks looking for variations on a theme. There are twenty ways of cooking salmon, 18 for rabbit, 19 for haddock and so on, some receipes calling for slow cooking, some very quick. There are also Italian influences reflecting the author's time married to a diplomat and living in Turin.

The first and only edition was long used by those lucky enough to own a copy and is still prized by collectors. It was not until Elizabeth David mentioned Lady Clark in her books and printed some of her recipes that her name reached a wider public.

Published: Nov 1, 1994