Mr Prime Minister, with this tomato soup you're really spoiling us

1st January 2010 at 00:00
A recipe book created by a Scottish primary school has received support from the Queen, Gordon Brown and Michelin-starred chefs Gordon Ramsay and Martin Wishart

Since its launch last month, What's for Tea?, a recipe book created by parents, pupils and staff at Musselburgh Burgh Primary in East Lothian, has sold 200 copies. And that's before recipes contributed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and chef Martin Wishart have been added.

Along with a cheque for #163;200, Mr Wishart contributed his recipe for wild boar chops and braised red cabbage. Mr Brown's recipe was less ambitious, but arguably more appealing to the less mature palate - he chose Chequers chef Alan Lavender's "real tomato soup".

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, meanwhile, has agreed to sign a copy of the book, to be auctioned later this month, and Mr Wishart has done the same. At the time of writing, the school was waiting to hear back from chefs Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn but it had received a letter from the Queen.

"Her Majesty was most interested to hear about the cook book which you and your friends at school have produced and thought it kind of you to invite her to the launch of the book at your Christmas Fair ... ," wrote a lady-in-waiting.

"Although the Queen is unable to accept, Her Majesty greatly appreciated your thoughtfulness.

"The Queen hopes that you will enjoy the Fair, and sends her good wishes to you all for a very happy Christmas."

"P6, who wrote to the Queen in the first place, were just so excited," says Fleur Hoole, who has been instrumental in the book's creation, along with fellow parents Vikki Johnson and Colin Johnston.

What's for Tea? began as a means to raise funds for Burgh School Council, which is supporting the school in its bid to improve its grounds. It was also a means of looking at healthy eating with the children and getting them involved in the kitchen, continues Mrs Hoole, who has two children at Burgh.

The school council got the ball rolling by writing to parents, asking them to send in their responses to the question "What's for tea?". They did so with gusto, says Mrs Hoole.

"We got all sorts of recipes from all round the world because families have links to all sorts of places. We got a Thai recipe and a recipe for a Turkish dish."

Another pupil had grandparents from South Africa and the school has a strong Polish contingent, adding to the international flavour.

Once all the recipes were gathered in, each class was assigned a chapter, given the relevant recipes and it was left up to them what made the final cut. They also contributed their own recipes after searching books for inspiration.

They were encouraged to be adventurous and choose things they perhaps had not had before but would like to try. They were also encouraged to adapt dishes to make them more to their taste. So if, for instance, they did not like carrots, they could substitute them for peas.

"Some of the recipes they picked, I thought they would never choose - like Moroccan couscous," says Mrs Hoole. "They've just been so positive about the whole project and enthusiastic. It's been great."

The closer links with parents as a result of creating What's for Tea? have been "fabulous", says Burgh Primary headteacher Karen Fleming.

"It was the parents who went round classes and discussed their favourite recipes with the children and they've been out in the playground encouraging everybody. It's been a real team effort," she sums up.

The book, which Mrs Hoole describes as a family cookbook with "real, workable recipes", is divided into chapters including pasta and pizza, fish, chicken, meat and baking.

P1 wrote a chapter with suggestions for packed lunches. But arguably the most daring recipes in the 100-page book are to be found towards the end. They came from the P12 composite class. There is "chickin peetsa" (chicken pizza), pasta "choopzs" (tubes), tomato "soop" (soup), "choona" (tuna) pizza, and a recipe for sosigis (sausages), beens and chips. Ingredients for the latter are listed as 14 ptaytos, 16 sosigis and 41 beens or pees; pupils recommend cutting the sosigis into "smole peeses".

Readers are warned that they try these recipes at their own risk.

The money raised from sales of the book, which costs #163;7, and the auction of copies signed by celebrities, will be used to pay for planters, so the school can start growing its own vegetables.

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