Not so for my next dish: Woolton pie.
Woolton pie was created by the man whose name it bears: Lord Woolton. Lord Woolton, a Conservative peer from Lancashire, was appointed Minister of Food in 1940, in the early years of World War Two.
As food minister, his mission was to make sure there was enough nutritious food on British tables to keep the country going through the Blitz and beyond, and overseeing food rationing (almost every staple foodstuff, with the exception of bread, was rationed in the UK.)
Among the ministry of food's tasks was to come up with recipes that could be made with the food available, and which were as healthy as they could be given the circumstances. Enter Francis Latry, the head chef at the Savoy Hotel (a very posh London joint), who created a dish of root veggies, served in stock thickened with porridge oats topped with pastry.
Now that may not sound revolutionary but it's kind of interesting when you think about it: British food, both now and then, is really, really meat heavy. Here's the minister of food recommending everyone eat more veggie food to keep the country going. (Interestingly, even in the 1940s there was an awareness of vegetarianism: under rationing, you'd have got an allowance of meat, but if you were veggie, you could trade it in for extra cheese. No idea what happened if you were a vegan though.)
Anyway, here's the original recipe:
Take 1lb each of potatoes, cauliflowers, swedes and carrots, three or four springs onions - if possible, one teaspoonful of vegetable extract, and one tablespoon of oatmeal. Cook all together for 10 minutes with just enough water to cover. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking. Allow to cool; put into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and cover with a crust of potato or wholemeal pastry. Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely browned and serve hot with a brown gravy.
I made it at home fairly faithfully: potatoes, swede and carrot (no cauliflower, as other half fears it) and vegetable bouillon powder in place of vegetable extract. I added a bit of cornstarch to thicken it up as the oatmeal didn't quite do the job, and used ready made vegan puff pastry to top it all off.
I was actually not looking forward to this - I thought it would be a flavourless and watery. It turned out not to be either: the sauce had thickened up nicely, and while it's a simple dish, it was still warm and comforting. Take that scepticism!
Apparently Woolton pie fell out of favour after the war was over, and rationing was removed. It's a shame (the falling out of favour, not the end of the war), as it's one dish worth rediscovering.