Pickles and Chutneys or Vegetables - both by Digby Law
These two books arrived just as I had picked the last of my garden harvest and was wondering what to do - I consider that 'pennies from heaven'. Problem with that though is the distraction of 'reading' rather than 'doing' is overwhelming. I took the time to photograph them with my less than perfect, cranky looking, very organic, end of season vegetables, and then wondered if I needed a picture to have perfect looking vegetables with the perfect new books, and then I thought of the author, who would have liked nothing better than a homegrown effort to be beautifully 'finished' with his recipes.
So amongst my review - there is a few 'recipe tests' that go on - not because they need testing - but because the book begs to be cooked from. Everything is so easy and straightforward. I began with my bumper crops - as my family grow tired of my repertoire, I thought that bringing in the 'big guns' with a few new ideas might revitalise the situation, and the chickens would have to go without.
Rhubarb is first up - so I took inspiration from the Pickle & Chutney Book and in a matter of minutes had everything in a pot, Rhubarb Relish was producing stunning wafts through my kitchen....
So easy peasy - 2 cups finely sliced rhubarb
2 cups halved and finely sliced onions
1 cup malt vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
combine in a saucepan, bring to the boil and cook slowly, uncovered, for about 20 - 30 minutes, until it is almost jam consistency, then pour into a hot clean jar....
Next up was lemons - my lemon tree is burgeoning, and still quite young - I think this years crop may have crippled it for life, so.... Pickled Lemons looked like it was simple enough to extend the life of my lemon harvest to summer....
cut 5 medium lemons
1 cup salt
additional lemon juice
In a wide neck jar combine the lemons and the salt, squeeze the uice from enough additional lemons to cover the lemons by about 1cm. Store at room temperature, uncovered and shaking the jar twice a week for 28 days.
Cover tightly and use the lemons as required...
of course his suggestions are to stuff any roasted bird, chop and add to curries, or in crayfish or seafood salads, and use the juice to flavour salad dressings.....
Then we had the Chilli 'Triffid' going on in my greenhouse and did you know, there is even a limit to the number of chillies you can give away!!!!! I have already dried them, sauced' them, and paste'd them - so inspiration was required and sure enough a brilliant little solution - literally.
Apparently - Using a few drops to give zest to soups stews, casseroles and to Chinese foods too...
Fresh small red chillies
Half fill a small screw-top jar with whole fresh chillies. Fill the jar with dry sherry, cover and let stand for 3 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.
No need to strain out the chillies, just us the sherry as required.
Silverbeet is a wholly unloved character in our garden - it grows easily and willingly, but it has been relegated to chicken food, so it seemed an obvious question to ask Digby in the Vegetables book - each chapter is a vegetable, with several pages of recipes devoted to each. I was looking for something that may change this poor greens image..... well this happened....
The addition of Cream Cheese makes this an elegant and beautiful dish
3 tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
small carton Cream Cheese
Salt and White Pepper
Cook both the white stalk and green leaves of the Silverbeet - until tender. Drain and allow to cool, then squeeze it in your hands to remove as mach moisture as possible. Chop it finely
In a saucepan, melt the butter, blend with the flour and pour in the heated milk. Stir until thickened, then beat in the Cream Cheese. When amalgamated and smooth, remove from the heat, add the chopped Silverbeet and salt and pepper to taste.
Cool slightly, then mix in the beaten egg yolks.
Whip the Egg Whites until stiff and fold into the mixture. Pour into a buttered soufflé dish and bake in a moderate (180C) oven for about 25 minutes.
You will notice in this photo the how 'thumbed' the book is already appearing, problem was choosing, and then not looking again, otherwise you would change your mind and yes, that is the same problem I have with a really good restaurant menu, until hunger backs you into a decision corner.
I was considering the next vegetable to be onions and had found his Sweet and Sour Recipe, in reading it, became aware that it was my grandmothers 'Agri-Dolce' which has the addition of Capsicum and is gorgeous addition - hot or cold. But with the French-Fried Onion Rings underneath, well.... all I can say is that they went astoundingly well with the Rhubarb Relish I had just made, and that was Saturday lunch sorted.....
2 large Onions
2 well-beaten Eggs
1 cup Milk
Peel and slice the onions and separate into rings. Roll each ring in Flour, then dip them into a mixture made with the well-beaten Eggs and Milk. Roll in Breadcrumbs and fry in very hot, deep oil until golden. Remove, drain and serve piping hot with grilled Steaks.
Obviously we skipped the suggested serving method they wouldn't have lasted long enough.
What I find amazing is the breadth of recipes in these books - Kim Chee to Pickled Watermelon Balls in one, and Souffles to Karni Yarik in the other, all written in a very simple, easy to follow narrative style - Honestly Digby could be standing in the kitchen talking to you.... After thoroughly reading both these books I was left wondering did New Zealand have its own Ottolenghi 35 years ago?