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Simply the best book on vegetables - Jane Grigson!
on 25 July 2006
Jane Grigson was one of the leading cookery writers of her generation with some similarity to the writing talents of the great Elizabeth David, in that her books combine superb writing with impeccable research.
The hardback edition/1991 of Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book is a 618 page alphabetical guide to selecting and cooking vegetables, with everything from artichokes to yams.
Tempting recipes from all over the world bring out the flavour and texture of each vegetable and turn the most modest ingredients into delightful dishes.
This invaluable reference includes an introduction, and appendices, entitled:
* Cutting Up Vegetables
* Steaming and Blanching Vegetables
* Savoury Butters
and finishes with a concise index, an Introduction to the American edition, a glossary and a table of equivalent weights and measures. In between are all the vegetables you can think of, and on pages 322/323 is a copy of 'John Evelyn's Salad Calendar'.
Bearing in mind that this is a book from the early 90s, glossy colour reproduction was not yet the 'in-thing' in cookery writing. Strangely, however, the subtle black and white illustrations, by Yvonne Skargon, at the top of each vegetable section are all that is required in this, a timeless kitchen bookshelf classic.
As 'The Scotsman' declares on the rear cover:
'The best cookbooks stimulate your imagination so that the freshest flavours come across as tempting as if they were on a plate in front of you. This is that kind of book.'
From the vegetable gardener's point of view, this book is an invaluable reference for those days when you just have one or two too many pounds (can you say that these days?!) of eg home-grown tomatoes and the novelty factor has worn off a month ago!
Just refer to the vegetable and find a variety of recipes to inspire a new way of presenting the superfluous veg, e.g. 'Tomato and Mussel Soup', 'Tomato Tart (1) or (2)', 'Tomato Mousse', 'Game with Tomato and Chocolate Sauce' , 'Shaker Tomato Custard' or 'Robin McDouall`s Tomato Ice Cream`!
How about 'Lettuce Soup', 'a good recipe for outside lettuce leaves' or 'Braised Lettuce' if you have 'a glut of firm, well-flavoured cabbage or cos lettuces'?
In addition, check out the pumpkin recipes for what to do with the leftovers at Hallowe'en!
A 'potato' is not just a 'potato'!
In the 24 page chapter entitled 'Potatoes', is a section on 'Potato Varieties and Their Uses', splitting them into Main-Crop All-Rounders, Floury, Mashed, Potato Cakes etc, Baked, Boiled, Irish Stew, Salad and Frying.
There at the top is 'Golden Wonder' - and, I do wonder what did happen to the crisp of the same name?