Zeralda’s Ogre

“The ogre terrorized the countryside
and frightened all the children into hiding,
until he met Zeralda, the little girl
who was a marvellous cook.
Zeralda had looked after her crotchety old father
for a long time and knew exactly how to tame the wild and hungry ogre.” Zeralda’s Ogre. (1967)

There’s no pulling any punches in this classic book by French author and illustrator, Tomi Ungerer. The ogre is mean looking. Has sharp teeth, and an ever sharper knife. Plus he eats children. I had never heard of this book until stumbling across the blog Vintage Children’s Books My Kid Loves, which is a treasure trove of authors past.

As for Zeralda’s Ogre – it has the classic Tomi Ungerer style. Big bold colours and characterful creatures. Zeralda herself, is a great cook. Her repertoire includes: apple dumplings, cream of watercress soup, smoked trout with capers, snails in garlic butter, a platter of roasted chickens and suckling pigs. But she also invents incredible recipes as well.

“A typical midnight snack in the ogre’s castle might easily include the following:

1. Sauerkraut and sausage

2. Goose liver pate in pastry shell

3. Veal cutlets on a bed of truffled aspic

4. Pompano Sarah Bernhardt (a plump silver fish – check out this blog for a Pompano recipe)

5. Chocolate sauce Rasputin

6. Roast turkey a la Cinderella

7. Ogre’s Delight: candied fruits, ladyfingers and ice-cream cakes.”

Feeding an ogre is no easy feat.

I thought I would share my New Year’s Day menu (which had to feed 6 – so a sort of mini-ogre portion). These are twists on Nigel Slater’s menu which can be found here and here.

Roast Duck a la Bad Wolf Sauce

1 Duck
4 onions
4 cloves of garlic
4 potatoes – sliced
3 Sprigs of thyme
8 rashers of good dry cured streaky bacon
1 cup of white wine

1. Saute the onions, garlic, potatoes, thyme and bacon and pop them inside a roasting tray. Drizzle with a cup of white wine and add the lot to a baking tray.
2.Get a fork and stab your duck all over to release the juices when its cooking.
3. Then put your whole duck on top of the slightly sizzled veg and bacon mix. (Make sure you remove the giblets – I ALWAYS forget).
4. Roast at 200°C/400 F/Gas 6 for 1,1/2 hours.
5. Take your duck out and remove the potatoes from beneath it.
6. Pop back in at a really high temperature to make the skin really crispy.

Wolf Sauce

Meanwhile, you’re left with the gooey, potatoey, ducky mixture. I call it Wolf Sauce because you would eat your own grandmother to get a hold of it. It’s ridiculously decadent so you will need to go for a long run after eating it.

1. Push the mixture through a sieve and into a pan, add some flour to make a roux.
2. Add a little white wine to loosen up the roux.
3. Add some stock, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and let simmer gently.
4. Add a dash of Worcester sauce.
5. Simmer some more until you have achieved the right consistency (I always find sauce is a matter of taste).

Ogre’s Delight Trifle

I love trifle. I love the layers, the squishy cake and sweet jelly and the fresh cream. We always have a tifle over the festive period – and it is always a labour of love to make every layer from scratch and wait for them to cool before layering the next. For this special voluminous New Year’s trifle, I used the following layers.

1. Seed cake (See Hobbit Food post) with mincemeat – soaked in Grand Marnier and Brandy.
2. Orange and lemon jelly made with fresh orange and lemon juice, Grand Marnier and Passoa (Passion Fruit liqueur), a pint of water and 4 gelatin sheets.
3. Orange and lemon curd
3. Vanilla custard
4. Whipped cream
5. Pomegranate seeds
6. Chocolate for topping

I made the jelly into these cute little moulds, so hopefully everyone would get a blob with each serving.

I just melted some chocolate and drizzled it into various patterns onto some greaseproof paper. They dry really quickly and you can just peel off and decorate your trifle with it.

Check out these other Tomi Ungerer Books – The Moon Man (1981) and the Three Robbers (1972). THe Moon Man has a great jazzy score.


10 thoughts on “Zeralda’s Ogre

  1. When I was a kid I always imagined the food from comic or fairytale books, and surprised by looking it if there is real recipe that we could try to cook. Your Trifle is fantastic and YUmmzzz..! with pomegranate seed 🙂


  2. I loved The Moon Man 🙂 This is quite the menu…wow! Everything looks wonderful and love, love those little “blobs” of jelly 🙂

  3. That trifle is so stunning!!! I haven’t had trifle for years but after seeing your pics I’m now craving it! I’ll have to find something to celebrate so that I can make one. Maybe I’ll make a Valentines trifle? Having looked at your ingredients I’m pretty sure I could veganise it 😉
    Have a wonderful weekend! x

  4. Wow Jules, thanks for posting this! I had always wanted to get the book about the little girl with the Ogre, but couldn’t remember the name, and now finally remembered to google it (ogre/cooking/book) and found your site. What a treat. Finally getting to see pictures from the book again and the wonderful photos of your food and the delicious recipes and the other Tomi Ungerer stuff. Do you know about the King’s Stilts? Thanks again for doing your blog! 🙂

    1. Thanks. I’ve not heard of the King’s Stilts, but try VintageChildrensBooksMyKidLoves website – she has almost everything by Tomi Ugerer on there.

      1. Oh, Thanks, but I have the book. I was just recommending it. Its a cute book by Dr. Seuss published in 1939. It is prose and does not rhyme. 🙂 I thought you might like it. It is about how important it is for people to have play and relaxation time in order for everything else in their lives to work smoothly. It connects to Zeralda’s Ogre because, The King’s Stilts and Zeralda’s Ogre were my two most favorite books as a child. Followed closely by Where the Wild Things Are and the Babar story where Zephir saves a mermaid from some hostile monsters on an island (Babar and Zephir). Thanks again for your very interesting blog 🙂

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