Delia reinvents the larder

The nation's top television cook has decided cupboards have the wrong ingredients. So we'll just have to go to the shops
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The Independent Online
HERE'S A prediction. Come Christmas, the nation's amateur chefs will be rummaging through their kitchen cupboards and writing shopping lists of missing staples.

Why? Because Delia Smith, the darling of the cooking classes, is going to tell us what we should have in our larders.

The second volume in her hugely successful back-to-basics cooking course is due out on 9 December. And the contents of the larder will be the crux of How to Cook Book Two.

In her biggest project for 20 years, Delia - as she has become known - provoked a national debate last year when she began her mission to return to the very roots of cooking using "the simple ingredients which our favourite meals depend upon".

Chef Gary Rhodes said telling people how to boil an egg was patronising. The public disagreed. Delia can do no wrong. Egg sales soared to1.3 million a day after four million viewers tuned in to the television series and more than a million of them bought the book.

Now she is set to expand on her simple-to-follow course for culinary incompetents by focusing on the need to invest in a basic store cupboard. Since the fridge-freezer has taken over as the main storage space in our kitchens, many of us have taken to buying foodstuffs, particularly ready meals, as and when we want them. Those jars and boxes of staple ingredients, such as flour, vinegar, spices and flavourings, have ended up in short supply.

Publication of the second volume will be backed by a pounds 1m marketing campaign, a sum reserved for only the biggest of publishing bestsellers, and a new10- week television series starting in January on BBC2.

Her spokeswoman said: "Delia believes it's as important to invest in good equipment and a basic store cupboard as it is to invest in things you need for any other interest or activity in your life. But she doesn't assume people have a lot of money or space."

In the latest burst of retro chic, Delia will be encouraging us to return to something that was as natural as apple pie for our grandmothers. But her spokeswoman said the success of the first volume showed that people did feel the need for it. "It gives people who are not that confident a good grounding," she said.

As Delia celebrated her 58th birthday on Friday, fellow chef and restaurateur Antony Worrall Thompson admitted she had put her finger on the pulse yet again.

By coincidence, he has just completely re-designed his own store cupboard, introducing a sliding central shelf so he can reach everything without having to move jars 12 deep.

"I've designed the ultimate larder," he said. "At a glance you can see what you've got." Seven feet long, seven feet high and two feet deep, it is set to be reproduced by the classy kitchen designer Mark Wilkinson.

Mr Worrall Thompson, also the author of a cook book, The ABC of AWT, said you should always be able to create something from your store cupboard if someone pops in.

"There should be some pasta, tins of tuna, tomato soup, olive oil. You should be able to knock up anything with a bit of cheese from the fridge." Dashi, a Japanese fish stock, is another of his favourite staples.

His own mother was a fairly useless cook who used to shop for every meal. "She was an actress who really didn't have time to cook properly," he said.



Canned fruit, for example, Bartlett pears and peach slices

Oxo cubes

Bloater paste (a tea-time spread)

Heinz tomato ketchup

Bisto gravy browning

Curry powder

Blancmange powder

Breakfast cereal

Pearl barley

Camp coffee

Pudding rice


Fruit pie filling


Packet soups

Evaporated milk

Rice Krispies

Heinz spaghetti in tomato sauce

Farrow's processed peas

Macaroni for puddings

Instant coffee

Flavourings - almond, vanilla, lemon


Cheesecake mix

Vesta meals

Pot noodles

Cook-in sauce

Swiss-style muesli

Tomato puree

Dried milk


Instant whip

Bon cooking wine


Dried pasta

Olive oil

Tinned chopped tomatoes


Fresh coffee

Tinned tuna

Baked beans

Thai cooking sauce


Balsamic vinegar

Dried porcini mushrooms

Research by J Sainsbury plc