Monday, 1 August 2016

Toomas Karmo: Minor Remarks on that Culinary Triumph which is Woolton Pie

Rationing notwithstanding (one person was allowed one real egg a week, and otherwise had to make do with egg powder) the British population emerged from the Hitler war (in 1945) in better health than when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed (on 1939-08-23). Much of the credit for this  surprising achievement goes to Frederick James Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton (1883-1954). Lord Woolton was appointed Minister of Food in 1940 April by Prime Minister Chamberlain. Among his innovations was the "Woolton Pie".

According to, The Times (in London) carried the following report on 1944-09-23: When Woolton pie was being forced on somewhat reluctant tables, Lord Woolton performed a valuable service by submitting to the flashlight camera at public luncheons while eating, with every sign of enjoyment, the dish named after him.

I find I can recreate Lord Woolton's delicious, and supremely economic, dish using just my own batterie de cuisine (no stove; in place of stove, slow cooker, and also 1980s-era microwave oven). 

I feel the public interest to be served by my here publishing my recipe:

Take one or two turnips, and a carrot, and one or two onions. Chop everything up, first peeling the skin off the onion(s), and additionally first scraping the carrot if it looks too grungy. Dump everything into a slow cooker. Add a tin of tomato paste, such as can possibly be had in Canada for 0.25 CAD at Dollarama. Add salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste. Optionally, add chopped cabbage. Add water. Let this mixture cook at 90oC or 100oC for 2 or 3 hours. With an ordinary small slow cooker, of capacity 2 L or 4 L or so, and therefore drawing 85 watts or so from the grid, the result will suffice for quite a few servings of Woolton Pie. 

At meal time, irradiate a potato, in its skin, in the microwave oven, for 8 minutes, first repeatedly piercing it with knife or fork or other convenient implement. Place the (in general, now cold) vegetable mixture into a microwave-safe bowl. Add, with mixing, 50 mL or so of instant oatmeal. Garnish with crumbed cheese. Irradiate this aggregate until the cheese melts. Then cut the still-hot potato open, placing it on top of the cheese-garnished vegetable mixture, as shown in the photograph. 

If desired, play Vera Lynn, for example through smartphone loudspeaker, during refection. 

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