Saturday, June 13, 2015

Weekend Cooking #27: Remembering Marguerite Patten

Marguerite Patten 1915-2015

I haven't written a Weekend Cooking post in a while, but this week, while I was reading the NY Times the other day, I came across a familiar face in the Obituary section.  It was a photo of Marguerite Patten, the lady who taught Britain how to cook despite rationing in WWII (and you may recall, rationing lasted there until 1954).  Marguerite passed away on June 4, 2015, at age 99 years.  I discovered Marguerite long before I started blogging, and during my first year of blogging, I did a post about her and some of her recipes.  I thought I would repost it today in homage to all that she accomplished with food when there was very little of it to be had.

From March 6, 2011:

Weekend Cooking #5: We’ll Eat Again: A Collection of Recipes from the War Years by Marguerite Patten – Dropped Scones

Talk about celebrity chefs - Marguerite Patten was a celebrity chef as early as World War II, long before the term was even coined.  During the war, Marguerite worked for the British Ministry of Food, where her job was to teach housewives how to making good meals despite rationing. In 1944, she began working on a radio program for the BBC called Kitchen Front. To date, Marguerite has written over 170 cookbooks, has been honored by the Queen and, at 95 years of age, she is still (relatively) going strong.

Next to Welsh Cakes, scones were my favorite tea food, much better than the bread and butter tea we usually had. My dad worked in the Museum of Natural History and he came home around 4 every afternoon. As kids, we were required to be home than for tea, unless we has something related to school to do. It was my favorite time of day, and a ritual I never gave up. So today I have drop scone recipes. These come from Marguerite’s book We’ll East Again, published in association with the Imperial War Museum and can be found on page 84 of that book.

Drop Scones aka Scottish Pancakes (as it was written)

Sift 4 oz. plain flour with 2 level teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add 1 tbsp dried egg powder then beat in 1 pint milk and 2 tbsp water.

Grease and heat a heavy frying pan, electric solid hotplate or griddle. To test if the right heat, drop on a teaspoon of batter, this should turn a golden brown on the bottom in 1 minute. Put the mixture in tablespoons on to the plate and leave until the top surface is covered with bubbles then turn and cook on the second side. The scones are cooked when quite firm.

Potato Drop Scones (this one sounds like something my dad may with leftover mashed potatoes on Mondays)

Rub 2 oz mashed potato into 4 oz flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Make into a stiff batter with half a beaten egg and ¼ pint milk. Allow to stand for a time. Sift in the small teaspoon of cream of tartar and a small level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and ½ oz sugar just before cooking. Cook in spoonfuls – as for Drop Scones – on a greased griddle or in a heavy frying pan. Serve with a little hot jam.

Coffee Potato Scones (this one sounds intriguing)

Sift 6 oz plain flour, 2 level teaspoon baking powder and ½ tsp salt into a basin. Mix thoroughly with 4 oz mashed potato. Rub in 2 oz fat with the tips of the fingers. Blend to a soft dough with ½ teacup strong, milky, sweetened coffee. Roll out to ½ inch thickness on a floured board and cut into rounds. Glaze the tips with a little milk. Bake on greased baking sheets in a hot over for 15 minutes.

I still make drop scones for tea, but I have to confess, I use Bisquick for them. Apparently the Queen likes them too. I found this bit in a 1965 book review from the New York Times. The review was for a book by Dwight D. Eisenhower called Waging Peace: 1956-1961.

For more on Marguerite Patten see
The Sunday Times
Celebrity Chefs

In 2007, Marguerite received a Lifetime Achievement Award and you can was it here:

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. As always Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


  1. Oh this sounds fascinating! I've never heard of Marguerite Patten but she sounds interesting and resourceful. The drop scones look good and this book will go on my wishlist. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Enjoyed learning about Marguerite! Her speech was wonderful. Thanks for reposting the video. And scones, yum!

  3. What a lovely post! I had not heard of Marguerite Patten either, but she sounds amazing. And lived to be 99. Wow. My parents grew up in the Depression years and my father served in the Army in WWII. The potato drop scones sound almost exactly like what my grandmother called potato pancakes. Made with leftover mashed potatoes. My parents never wasted anything, were very frugal and the 'original' recyclers. I'll be looking for the book.

  4. So sad to hear about Marguerite, I heard years ago about this amazing woman. My mom used to make potato cakes that sound like the potato drop scones. I remember them being really good.

  5. I learned about Marguerite though your earlier post. She was an amazing lady.

  6. The novel Delicious! by Ruth Reichl goes back in time to the days of cooking with rationing going on, but I don't remember if she mentions Marguerite Patten by name or not.

  7. Thanksj for the reminder! Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

  8. I first learned about this woman years ago.... enjoyed (re)reading your post!

  9. I remember hearing about Marguerite when I lived in the UK. I hadn't heard that she had passed away. Thanks for this post.

  10. Hi Alex, I didn’t see this post first time, so I’m really pleased you shared it again. This took me right back to my school days in the 50s and into the domestic science (cookery) room. Marguerite Patten was THE cook back then. Lovely post.

  11. Thank you so much for posting this!! I wrote about this book a few years ago: