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Riverford Farm Cook Book: Tales from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen Paperback – 1 Sep 2008
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‘I like Riverford’s fruit and vegetables, I like their recipes, and I like their philosophy. This is a super book.’ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
From the Inside Flap
`It is a nutritional and culinary tragedy that our traditional greens have been maligned in a national capitulation to the bland, seasonless, overpriced, overtravelled broccoli, peppers and mange tout that have replaced them. Never mind the latest exotic or wonder food. You are being taken for a mug. A Savoy or January king cabbage with help you live longer at a fraction of the price.'
Long before it was fashionable to do so, Guy Watson's Riverford Organic Vegetables was delivering vegetables and fruit in weekly boxes direct from the fields of South Devon straight to kitchens up and down the country.
Pioneering in promoting ethical eating and passionately dedicated to quality local produce, Riverford aims to put fresh, flavoursome food back onto people's plates. In the Riverford Farm Cook Book, Guy uses his twenty years' experience of growing vegetables to give a farmer's unparalleled insight into choosing the tastiest and best fruit and vegetables for your table, in opposition to the bland fare most often on offer in our supermarkets today.
Lamenting the falling standards in the production of British food, Guy explains why our mass-produced celery is now stringier; our carrots watery; the flavour of our broccoli nondescript. Guy's practical tips on seasonality, storage and preparation, along with a range of original, easy recipe ideas for each vegetable from Jane Baxter, chef of Riverford's celebrated Field Kitchen, will help you rediscover the many ways in which you can cook good quality vegetables as well.
These distinctive and delicious recipes will bring out the best f your organics box, whether that's creating spiced celeriac with lemon, wet and wild garlic risotto or a comforting rhubarb crumble.
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Top customer reviews
The book itself is a useful book, it does repeat the recipes that I already have in my Riverford Autumn and Winter, however it is stil really useful and laid out really well. the recipes are easy to follow, and I other than user error are usually successful.
I bought it because I have an allotment and it is easy to run out of inspiration when faced with a glut of something. I also wanted a cookbook where the recipes were reasonably healthy and quick every day ideas. This one delivers where others failed I have to say. Chapters are arranged by vegetable (or fruit) and there are chapters on mixed veg and using up odds and ends. There is a section on storage and preparation within the section devoted to each vegetable too, and there is also a list of 'easy ideas' for each vegetable which are in a similar vein to the ideas in Nigel Slater's 'Real fast food' book. The recipes and ideas I have tried have all been reasonably easy to make and got the thumbs up from my family, including my carnivorous chef partner. The selection of recipies not exclusively British themed even though based upon produce that grows here - there are influences from across the world. Be aware that imperial measurements are not provided - not a problem for me but might be for you?
For those that are interested there is also information about the history of Riverford, then every so often there is a commentary page providing opinions about various topics related to food and farming. Some of them are verge on rants but they are entertaining, well written and usually informative. There are some interesting points made about supermarkets and food miles.
It is a good looking cookbook - all the veg and some of the dishes are beautifully photographed and printed onto thick matt paper, and the typeface is nice and clear to read. The index is easy to use - finding favorites is straightforward. The only thing about this book that annoys me when I am using it is that it is difficult to prop it open at the page you are using when in the kitchen due to its small size relative to its thickness. Perhaps that will get better with use!
Part of his vision was to set up a Field Kitchen at the farm to cook the vegetables he grows. He joined forces with Jane Baxter, ex-River Cafe amongst much else, who cooks the harvested bounty with inspired enthusiasm and serves it - refectory-style - to eager customers.
Now between them, they've published their Riverford Farm Cook Book with Guy's notes and Jane's superb recipes. You won't be able to resist the likes of Beetroot Hater's Soup, a warming autumnal Dev-Mex Pumpkin Stew or Caramel Apple Pavlova. Each ingredient is prefaced with notes on how Guy came to grow it and his own storage and preparation tips before you dive into Jane's innovative recipes.
I particularly love his whimsical notes. For example, Guy on white cabbage: "When we grew vegetables for the supermarkets, we used to send off lorry load after lorry load of white cabbage. I was always at a loss as to who ate them all. How much coleslaw can the nation eat? Just about every other use of a white cabbage is better served by green cabbage of kale." And he's probably right.
A combination of sound advice and good cooking, Guy's book will get you out of a hole with uninspiring vegetables you might get in your delivery box, or encourage you to try new varieties when shopping. In these credit-crunch days, it's sensible that vegetables should be not just the supporting act, but the stars of the show.
Recipes are organised by the main ingredient, maybe 3 or 4 recipes for each ingredient, but then there's a long list of 'quick ideas' - mini recipes which you can knock up speedily, and directions to the other recipes in the book which involve that ingredient (I know the index could do the same but I think it's a really nice touch!). Ingredients range from apples to celeriac with everything in between.
Brussel Sprouts (some might hate them but I don't!)
Bubble and Squeak Soup with Wensleydale
Crisp Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts and Balsamic Vinegar
Wok fried Brussels Sprouts with Ginger
Onions and Shallots
Red Onion Salad with Beetroot, Lentils, Feta and Mint
Sausages with Onion Gravy
Twice-cooked Belly Pork with Spring Onions and Ginger
Recipes are unfussy and don't have hordes of odd ingredients - but you know they'll be good just from reading them. Guy's writing is accessible, interesting and thought provoking! 5 stars and well deserved.