If you’re not signed up to your local veg-box scheme, growing your own or even just keeping an eye out for what’s in season, you’re not a fashionable foodie.
For the past five years or more it has become positively de rigueur to eat in tune with nature’s larder. And so it was no surprise that the debut recipe book (Riverford Farm Cook Book) from one of the pioneers of the veg-box scheme, Guy Watson of Riverford Organic, was hailed as one of the must-have cookery books of the decade.
Three years later, Guy and Riverford head chef Jane Baxter have published their follow-up, Everyday and Sunday. Much like its predecessor, the book is a definitive guide to using British vegetables to their best advantage.
The book is divided into months, guiding you through the year’s harvest. The purpose of the book, says Guy, is to essentially give us aspirational cooks no excuses for not cooking from scratch (even with so-called boring veg such as cabbages and swede).
There are useful ideas on what you should have in your store cupboard, tips on storing your veg (did you know you can freeze certain herbs, for example?) and Guy’s trademark wit and humour throughout. The index is also helpfully categorised, so if you have a glut of squash this October – well, you’ve got to do something with those pumpkin innards come Halloween – there are plenty of ideas to do something quick and easy.
There are numerous low-maintenance ideas for the week and more laborious and challenging recipes for Sunday, hence the title.
I tried out the everyday beetroot with aromatic spices recipe on page 36 tonight. (If I am allowed I’ll be adding the proper recipe tomorrow.) I had some beets from my grandad’s allotment to use up and could feel a cold brewing so a comforting curry sounded just like doctor’s orders. Proving how apt a title – I had nearly all of the ingredients already in my store cupboard or fridge. The only items I didn’t have to hand (and I certainly couldn’t be bothered to go shopping for them) was black mustard seeds, a lime, and I was down to the last pinch of cumin and turmeric. Such minor barriers are little to stop an intrepid foodie like me – the black seeds were replaced with their traditional yellow equivalents, lime with lemon, cumin with a mixed whole spice blend, and turmeric with a sweet paprika from my travels in Turkey in June.
The method is easy enough to follow – no complicated instructions or lashings of assumed knowledge – and the timings are pretty accurate too (even if my 2cm beetroot dice weren’t!). The beetroot was tender but still with a bit of bite within 37 minutes on a gentle simmer (the recipe recommends 30-45 mins). It’s also a recipe that doesn’t need to be followed too strictly. I didn’t grind my spices properly – but I liked that rough crunch of the spice. Lime probably would have added that extra spice but the lemon did just as well. I also added double the amount of coconut milk and chucked the rest in the pan of rice, which made it deliciously creamy. Well, no-one wants a half can of coconut milk going off in the fridge do they?
And the result? A beautiful, quick and earthy curry. The onions and tomatoes go wonderfully sweet and jammy. The spices and beetroot give a really earthy, rounded flavour, while the chilli gives a beautiful back heat. (Oh, and I used dried rather than fresh chilli). The coconut made it creamy and moreish. What a simple and delicious recipe and a brilliant book. I can’t recommend it enough.
A truly inspirational and helpful book by masters of British fruit and veg. A must-read for anyone who cooks at home. For more information or to see where Riverford Organic delivers veg boxes visit http://www.riverford.co.uk/.