Daughter publishes cookbook of late mother’s recipes to pay tribute to ‘magical’ mum

Shally and her daughter

Shally and her daughter - Credit: Archant

The Social Kitchen isn’t just a cookbook, it’s a labour of love and homage to the special impact Shally Tucker had through her passion for life.

This collection of family recipes was put together by her daughter Dani following her death two years ago – its name deriving from the lively heart of the Tucker family home, presided over by Shally.

Dani, 32, felt compelled to use her mother’s “overflowing” collection of handwritten notes, recipes and memories to “create something tangible to keep, and give something back, as she would have wanted”.

Born Sharon Leigh Tucker in Johannesburg, in 1960, Shally endured a long battle with auto-immune diseases including psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

But despite her illnesses, she showed unflinching kindness and spirited creativity.

“It was so innate, such a part of who she was, it was magical,” says Dani.

Shally’s generosity and fabulous food would bring huge parties to their Hampstead home.

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“It was like a train station, says Dani, “with people always coming in and out”.

But nobody left with an empty stomach, because cooking was how Shally expressed her love for family and friends.

The book includes vignettes about this “South African-inspired madhouse” with its bright purple door, telephone box in the garden and rooms filled with Shally’s crafts.

It also features diverse recipes reaching back to Shally’s grandmothers, channelling her eclectic fusion of South African and Jewish roots, Lithuanian heritage and English upbringing, including cottage pie, chicken soup, knocken, challah, chutney chicken (using Mrs Ball’s onion chutney) and soasties kebabs.

And it encourages bringing together loved ones to eating as one big family.

Dani says: “She was always sewing and creating; always thinking out of the box The important life lesson I learned from my mother was that life is special and you shouldn’t let it just pass you by.

“Even her funeral was a celebration of life. Every minute with her was so precious I learnt that any excuse to celebrate something is the way forward.

“The book is very authentic. Her crockery, ribbons, and family snapshots are all pictured; everything is hers,”

Shally’s philosophy was that “kindness is an endless process that ripples beyond our imagination”.

To honour that all proceeds from The Social Kitchen (Amazon, £25) go to Dermatrust, a non-profit trust that provided Shally with care and support and that funds research into treatments for skin diseases.

Book sales have already raised up to £40,000 for Dermatrust.



2 x 180g slabs of Bourneville chocolate

50g butter

6 eggs, separated

6 tbsp caster sugar

600ml double cream

Crunchies or chocolate bars to crumble on top to serve


Break the chocolate up into pieces and put them in a large heatproof bowl with the butter. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water – making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water – until the chocolate and butter have melted, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the pan.

Beat the egg yolks with 5 tablespoons of the sugar for 5 minutes until the mixture is creamy and pale.

Stir the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, making sure everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk until stiff.

In another bowl, whisk the cream until it’s just holding its shape.

Carefully fold the chocolate mix into the cream. Then, using a metal spoon, fold in the egg whites a little at a time. Pour the mixture into a trifle dish and chill it in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight before serving.