Thursday, 10 October 2013

Book Review and giveaway, Bully Beef and Boiled Sweets by James Mannion.

Bully Beef and Boiled Sweets, British Military Club since 1707 is the first cookbook by journailst, James Mannion. Many thanks to Constable and Robinson for my review copy. This is a very unique and eccentric cook book as it focuses upon food that was cooked and eaten by the British Army, throughout their work station/base across the world. The title itself is intriguing and I first asked myself, what is Bully Beef (which I now know is another name for corned beef)?
This cookbook is not only a cookbook containing 50  recipes but also a historical book which I fell will make any reader not only want to cook British or worldwide classic dishes, but also give a great appreciation to the British Army.
Bully Beef and Boiled Sweets.

The cookbook is split into 5 chapters:

  • Bully beef, Stiff Upper Lips and a Lot of Carrots.
  • Unrivalled Ingenuity, International Cuisine, and Spam.
  • Bug Banquets, Snake Steaks and Iranian Mars Bars.
  • Churchill's Stew, Monty's Pudding and Carry On the Khyber.
  • Wellingtons, Messes and Alcoholic Jam.

The opening chapter of the book informs the reader of what Bully Beef actually is (beef brisket, cooked, cured and canned a.k.a corned beef) and contains recipes that were commonly eaten in the World War 1, such as Bully Beef and Wolton pie (a meledey of vegetables and potato pie) .

The second chapter contains recipes from some of the foods the British Army would have eaten by being creative with their ration packs, and also some recipes from the food that were likely to be eaten when stationed abroad. A couple of the stand out recipes in this chapter is Nasi Goreng and Italian tuna pie.

The third chapter informs the reader of foods that were eaten by our Armed Forces when they had to fend for themselves and had to survive of the land. They were few recipes that interested me in this chapter, I did not find bugs banquet or spit-roasted pigeon.

The fourth chapter shares ten recipes based upon famous individuals who served within the army. Highlights from this chapter includes Sir Ranuplh Fienne's (OBE) Vanilla Ice Cream and Best Ever Chocolate Sauce and Chris Ryan's Spicy Chicken and Rice.

The fifth chapter is my favourite chapter and shares recipes that would be eaten by those who were further up in the army rank such as the Generals. Stand out recipes are lobster souffle and whisky marmalade.

I have so far made two recipes from this book: Chicken and vegetable pie - a pastry base, chicken filling and potato topped pie and Prince Harry's Sausages and mash.
Here are how the recipes turned out:
Prince Harry's sausages.

Prince Harry sausages.

Chicken and potato pie.
Chicken and potato pie on plate.

Positives: All the recipes gives an introduction and history of the recipe which I think this is useful especially as some of the recipes are not familiar to me. There is also clear instruction on how to make each recipe and a step by step guide. I also liked that it was not an average cookbook containing a hundred or so recipes, it is also a very informative book about the British Army and it is clear that the author has taken the time to research the recipes and the life of a solider in this bool.  There are also pages which shared the average ration pack that a solder recieved.

Negatives: I love looking at food pictures and whilst this book contains recipes of foods (such as tortillas and tinned foods) there are no pictures of the completed recipes.

Overall, a very interesting and refreshing cookbook, I haven't seen anything similar on the British high street. The lovely people at Constable and Robinson have given me a copy to giveaway, please follow the instructions on the rafflecopter further down to enter into the giveaway. 

The recipe that i've decided to share is Prince Harry's Banger and Mash: the author stated that his royal highness stated in an interview in 2008 that this was the dish he craved the most when he was serving in Helmand Province.
For one serving (although easily doubled)
You will need
4 sausages
1 large potato
salt and pepper
knob of butter
2 tablespoons single or double cream
1 tablespoon milk, if necessary
gravy granules
1 onion

1) Place the sausages in a foil-lined baking tin, lightly brushed with a little oil in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 20 minutes.
2) While the bangers are cooking, tackle the mash. Once you've chosen your potatoes, peel and chop them until they are roughly golf-ball sized and pop them in a pan with just enough water to cover them. When they are bubbling away, cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or so. Drain in a colander and then pop them back into the pan to dry out briefly before adding the butter and cream a little at a time. Mix through a little salt and pepper until you are happy with the taste.
3) Finally, mix up your gravy according to the jar's instructions (usually adding boiling water to a measure of granules and stir) and serve with English mustard.

To be in with a chance to receive a copy of Bully Beef and Boiled Sweets.

  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget.
  • Leave a blog comment and like my Facebook page.
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run for 10.10.13 to 11.11.13. 
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted.
  • The competition is open to UK residences only.
Please feel free to share the giveaway and good luck!!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of Bully Beef and Boiled Sweets for review. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Clair Downham was the lucky winner, please email me at with your details x



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  2. Stew will keep you marching for hours

  3. Chicken Casserole

  4. Shepherd's pie. I grew up on an Aberdeenshire farm. It was bitterly cold in winter. This was my favourite dish to come into on the coldest days.

  5. shepherds pie. My son is at university and it is now a tradition that whenever he comes home I have a shepherds pie ready x

  6. shepherds pie my kids ask for it at least once aweek

  7. A steamed pudding - treacle pud I think with custard (as long as we weren't in the desert *grin*)

  8. Corned Beef Hash just like my Mum used to make

  9. Prince Harry's Banger and Mash - Prince Harry is correct, this meal will make any bloke "dribble" in anticipation.

  10. Sausage and Mash - with lashings of gravy! x

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. corned beef hash

  13. I had to spend months in hospital and what I really craved was cheese on toast

  14. Cheese mash with Beef casserole

  15. cheesey mash with beans followed by rice pud x

  16. chicken hotpot with dumplings comforting and warming

  17. toad in the hole with gravy

  18. Sausage and mash with onion gravy

  19. Mashed potato and thick slabs of corned beef :)

  20. corned beef hash or stew and dumplings

  21. nothing like a cracking cottage pie to warm the cockles and remind you of home!

  22. corned beef pie with baked beans

  23. Steak pie from the local butchers with mash and lots of gravy

  24. Bangers and mash with plenty of gravy!

  25. A roast dinner with lashings of gravy


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