Some Dishes From Binkie Johnston’s Dinner

If you normally read both Tom Eats! and Tom Cooks! don't read this column till you've digested the former. If you don't read Eats!, I can tell you that these are recipes for a few dishes which featured there.

Consommé Olga

You may recall that Binkie's steward, McTavish, attributed this dish to chef's dalliance with a lady of the same name. A dish with that title did appear in Escoffier's 1903 La Guide Culinaire, but the recipe is different. It didn't make it to Ma Cuisine, Escoffier's Greatest Hits when he narrowed his repertoire down to his 2500 favourites. So maybe, just maybe, McTavish's story was true.

I was going to give you a recipe to make consommé from scratch, but then I thought, why? You need proper home made stock, a laborious simmering process, an egg white "raft" to clarify it, and straining through muslin. I've never made it, and I'm not aware of any non professional who has;  however, ever willing to please, I'll publish a recipe if there is the demand.


Enough beef consommé for 6 people; 60ml port; 6 large scallops, cut into 3 pieces crosswise; ½ stick of celery, peeled and finely julienned; ¼ cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely julienned.


Warm your soup bowls. Heat the consommé until very hot and stir in the port. Place 3 discs of scallop in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the soup over the scallops, garnish with the celery and cucumber, and serve immediately.

Punch Romaine

At Binkie's dinner this was served as a palate cleanser (or what the Italians call an intermezzo) as pictured right. Sounds like it would make rather a good cocktail. Make sure all the ingredients are well chilled. A recipe which I saw suggested mixing all the ingredients in a blender with crushed ice, which sounds a criminal waste of champagne, which I would always add last. If you were doing this as a dessert course, it would have the consistency of a granita, in which case it would make sense to drizzle the rum over at the end along with the fizz. If you're  making it as a cocktail and want to be flash, shake all the other ingredients with ice, adding the fizz to the shaken mixture.

Remember that your sugar syrup needs to be made in advance and allowed to cool. Probably essential if this is intended as a dessert, but I'd omit from a cocktail, or use less. To make sugar syrup put 2 parts caster sugar to 1 part water in a pan. Heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved, then bring to the boil for one minute. Leave to cool.

Ingredients (serves 8)

500ml Champagne (or, if you're a cheapskate, dry sparkling wine); 250ml dry white wine; 250ml sugar syrup (see above - optional);  80ml freshly squeezed orange juice;  2tbsp lemon juice; 2tbsp white rum.


Mix all the ingredients apart from the champagne and shake or stir well, making sure the mixture is very cold. Fill a champagne glass about a third full with the mix, top up with champagne and swizzle. Garnish with a sliver of orange peel if you fancy.

Waldorf Pudding

A steamed pudding at the end of that meal? No wonder Binkie bodyswerved it. Can't say I've made it - I'm just repeating the recipe. Probably made by that old drunk Joughin*. The recipe says it "serves 4, but fills 9 moulds". Almost certainly pissed when he wrote it. So you'll need individual moulds or ramekins, well greased. Remember that the sauce will need to cool before you add the whipped cream.


For the pudding

180g diced unpeeled eating apples, such as Braeburns (even though they didn't exist in 1912); 120g walnuts, coarsely chopped; 60g raisins; 240g plain flour; 60g caster sugar; 2 eggs; 240ml milk; 2tsp baking powder; 3tbsp melted butter; 1 tsp vanilla extract.

For the sauce

120g caster sugar; 60g water; 2 egg yolks, beaten; 500ml whipped cream; zest of a small lemon.



Put the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a baking bowl, and mix together well. Stir in the melted butter. Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla extract and add to the bowl gradually. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the apples nuts and raisins. Divide among the greased moulds, cover tightly with a greaseproof paper lid and steam for 45 minutes. Turn out of the moulds and serve with the sauce.


Boil the sugar and water "until the syrup spins a thread". (No, I'm not too sure what this means either. Maybe one of you pros can advise.) Pour it over the beaten egg yolks and stir quickly, then add the lemon zest. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in the whipped cream.


The proprietors and management of Tom Cooks! advise that this recipe is made at the reader's own risk. No liability will be accepted. To those who say it is fool proof, I reply, so was the Titanic.

*Charles Joughin was Chief Baker on the Titanic. On the night in question, he was apparently pretty well oiled. Despite this, when the iceberg struck he superintended loading each lifeboat with provisions, and assisted women and children in boarding. He declined to take a place on a boat himself, returning to his cabin for another drink. He was apparently the last man off. Miraculously he survived for two hours in the freezing water before being hauled on to a lifeboat.

1 Comment

  1. L on 12th March 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Excuse me, dear writer. I’ve made consommé. Only once and, as you say, what a faff.

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