THE SLIMMER’S COOK BOOK

Professor John Yudkin MA MD BSc PhD MRCP FRIC, had been Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at University of London since 1954, when his first book, This Slimming Business was published in 1958.

The Slimmer’s Cook Book, co-authored with Dr Gweneth Chappell MSc PhD, a food and nutrition researcher at the University of London, was published in 1961, with a Penguin paperback edition following in 1963.

In the preface, Yudkin and Chappell state that The Slimmer’s Cook Book is intended as a guide for those following the dietary principles set down in
THIS SLIMMING BUSINESS

Photo by Theroigne S B G Russell

Although it could be said that Yudkin comes to low carb via a process of elimination of other diets in This Slimming Business, from the preface onwards in The Slimmer’s Cook Book, Yudkin and Chappell embrace a low carbohydrate diet. They remind readers that they should cut down on carbohydrates as much as possible. Readers should also eat foods which will give them all the proteins, vitamins and minerals. Thirdly, they are reminded that they can eat as much as they like of foods which contain no sugar or starch.

soup dish in white ceramic bowl
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Yudkin and Chappell state airily: “the English are not a very soup-conscious nation, though the Scots do appreciate the value of a good, appetizing soup.” Many of the soup recipes do contain flour, ground rice, cornflour or arrowroot in amounts varying between 1 tablespoon and 1 oz. Those which are flour and thickener free are Bisque of lobster, bouillabaisse, chicken broth, five variations of consomme, mushroom soup, mulligatawny, clear oxtail soup, pot au feu. Three stock recipes are given, all of which are low carb, obviously.

With all the talk about fish kettles and turbot, it seems obvious that The Slimmer’s Cook Book is aimed at the middle class. Low carb recipes in the fish chapter include: Fish stock, brandade of cod, brill Niçoise, fish au vin blanc, fish Bonne Femme, fish mayonnaise, grilled fillets meunières, fish omelette, fish salad with fennel, grilled salmon, pickled salmon, skate and brown butter, soused mackerel, soused herring, stuffed halibut, trout with butter, turbot with herb butter, Yugoslavian baked fish.

food cold water animal
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TIP: If you do get hold of river or lake trout, for example, you can lessen the muddy taste, by soaking them in vinegar or salt and vinegar and removing the skin. If you search online for ‘muddy fish’, there is plenty of advice.

The meat chapter is a product of its time. In Britain, it’s just not possible to cart away a half a calf or pig head. Nor will you find sweetbreads in British supermarkets. Many recipes include flour, breadcrumbs or flour-based sauces. Besides generic advice on grilling, frying, braising, stewing and boiling meat, low carb recipes comprise: Mixed grill, curry of beef, hotpot of mutton, kebabs.

Photo Copyright Theroigne Russell May 2020

The inclusion of a cheese chapter looked promising, but was in fact, disappointing. Cheese dip, chicory Milanaise, fondue, Lorraine eggs, Swiss pie (no pastry) being the only low carb recipes.

No actual quantities were given for Lorraine eggs. The ingredients are Gruyère cheese sliced thinly, bacon, eggs, butter and chopped fresh parsley. Butter an ovenproof dish and put the thinly sliced cheese in the bottom. Fry enough bacon rashers to make another layer. The bacon should be crispy. Yudkin and Chappell don’t specify how the eggs should be placed on top of the bacon but later mention that adding pepper makes the egg yolks look speckled, so suggest cracking an egg into a cup or saucer and sliding it on top of the bacon, one by one, without breaking the yolk. Dot the yolks with small pieces of butter carefully. Bake in a moderate oven (375F 191C Gas 5) until cooked to your taste. Add chopped fresh parsley.

Savouries are unfashionable in 21st century Britain and most include toast, so just cheese and celery bars, cream cheese walnuts, devilled roes.

The supper dish chapter has nine low carb offerings: Grilled herrings, baked herrings, plain omelet, omelet fines herbes, cheese omelet, mushroom omelet, Spanish omelet, boiled cod’s roes with Hollandaise sauce, stuffed tomatoes, Spanish eggs. Nothing inspiring.

crop faceless chef cooking delicious omelette on pan
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Sauces: Hollandaise, mayonnaise (omit sugar), Maître d’hotel butter, remoulade sauce, sour cream salad dressing (recipe 2), tartare sauce, vinaigrette (omit sugar), vinaigrette with cream (omit sugar).

The salad chapter kicks off with six serving suggestions for ‘avocado pear’. These are followed by low carb salads: chicory salad, cucumber and shrimp salad, globe artichoke salad, lettuce and leek salad, macedoine salad, mixed salad, onion and tomato salad, Russian salad (may need minor tweaks), spinach and lettuce salad, tomato and pepper salad, winter salad (may need tweaking). Seven out of nine cold stuffed tomato suggestions, are low carb.

Some of Yudkin and Chappel’s recipes seem to follow traditional catering-style recipes. Carrots Vichy (omit sugar), carrots conservative (omit sugar), courgettes with browned butter, creamed celeriac, creamed spinach, Indian stew (omit broad beans), ratatouille.

Yudkin and Chappell make an effort in the ‘Sweets’ chapter, to cut down on sugar or replace it with artificial sweeteners. The Maison Keto view, is that if we don’t educate our tastebuds and continue with the sweet stuff, it’s extremely likely to lead to ‘falling off the (low carb) wagon’.

Instead, why not try HESTON BLUMENTHAL’S TWO INGREDIENT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE ?

In the preface, Yudkin and Chappell say that people who need packed lunches often give up on a low carb diets, because they eat sandwiches, The last chapter of the book addresses packed meals.

It starts well, giving examples of low carb options: Thin slices of ham or cold meat, wrapped around melon fingers; cold sausage split lengthwise and filled with cheese or mayo; stuffed hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks wrapped in lettuce. There are four suggestions for cold kebabs and five for filled celery or cucumber. Fork snacks include Russian salad or cottage cheese with added ingredients such as herbs, nuts, gherkins, capers or tomatoes.

Yudkin and Chappell let the side down, with more than fifteen sandwich fillings. There’s little point in making fillings, only to slap them between slices or ordinary carby bread.

sliced bread with sliced tomato and green leaf vegetable on black plate
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Verdict: The inclusion of sandwiches and sweets may have been an attempt to make Yudkin & Chappell’s diet look ‘normal’. Yudkin’s reinvention of carbs and calories into units, was un-necessary and confusing in This Slimming Business and was continued in the appendix, in this book. Not one recipe was unit-counted, however.

The single most important takeaway from this book, is that Professor Yudkin believed: ” You should cut down as much as possible on foods containing carbohydrates”. No ambiguity, Professor Yudkin was in favour of low carb.

If you’re a bit of a Yudkin fan and want one of his cheaper old books, that’s reason enough to buy it. If you’re wanting an explanation of low carb, you won’t get it from this. With the majority of recipes excluded from being low carb because of flour, breadcrumbs and sugar, it won’t add much to your culinary repertoire, either.

Only for Yudkin fans.

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