A new cookbook arrived in my mail box recently. Actually it was second hand but new to me and came courtesy of Rachel of the Crispy Cook. She has kindly decided to ask bloggers to put their names down each month to go into a draw for a nominated second hand cookbook from her Old Saratoga Books store. Oh how wonderful to have a shop of old books! If I ever had the pleasure, I hope I would be as generous as Rachel. And if you want to find gluten free bloggers she has an impressive list of GF blogs.
The book that I ‘won’ was Vegetarian Dishes from Around the World by Rose Elliot. This was published in 1981 before anyone discovered that we had our own recipes in Australia. Or maybe Rose just thought Antipodeans such rabid carnivores that she didn’t expect to find any vegetarian recipes in our midst. Sorry, had to have a whinge about that. Otherwise this is a great cookbook that I have been pouring over in anticipation of making many of the recipes.
I am probably getting a bit old in that 1981 doesn’t seem that far away but this book has a little of the earnest, fusty olde worlde vegetarian about it. I have quite a few Rose Elliot's books, as you can see on my cookbook list (which needs updating). This is an American edition so, unlike most of my other copies of her books, this is written with cup measures. But it does not make it seem any less British.
There are not too many other cookbook authors that I feel quite as passionate about. When I first became vegetarian I was advised to get a copy of her Vegetarian Cookery if possible. So it is interesting to note some of the personal tit-bits – such as that she was brought up vegetarian – and some of her preferences – for lots of colour in a meal.
The round the world theme is interesting. It seems more about finding comfort elsewhere than challenges. But then I suspect this is from a time when exotica such as Thai curry paste and miso were not everyday items in supermarkets. Indeed, her coverage of Asia seems limited to China and India. And as someone who has never understood the allure of French cooking, I find her praise of wonderful French vegetable dishes perplexing. She stresses the need for protein in a meal but this often seems to be cheese and eggs. Unlike some of Rose Elliot’s more recent books, this seems to hail from a time when life (and the pantry) was much simpler.
The first dish I chose to make is paella. Here is the moment to say that this book has no photos. So there were none of those lovely images of bright yellow rice with dark plump olives and the colourful jumble of peas, carrot and capsicum. Quite fortunate as the remains of the saffron in my pantry were a little dusty and did not produce much in the way of colour. Perhaps that is why I needed stock and not just salt for a little flavour. E chose to have his with tabasco sauce and cheese but I enjoyed mine as it came from the pot.
Like the book, the paella did not seem terribly exotic but tasted of wholesome goodness with brown rice and lots of vegies. I made a few changes to the recipe. I had chickpeas where she had roasted almonds and I added a few olives at the end but didn’t have as many as I had thought. Not a dish to transport you to the sunny shores of Spain, but one to make you feel you are doing something good for your body. And one to make me grateful to Rachel for her generosity in sending this book my way!
(adapted from Rose Eliot)
2 red onions, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
375ml (1½ cups) brown rice, rinsed
1 litre (about 3 ¾ cups) water
1 packet saffron (I used what I had left)
3 tsp vegie stock powder
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tin (400g) chickpeas, drained
1 large red pepper, sliced in rings
4 tomatoes, chopped (peeling is optional)
1 cup (250ml) frozen green peas
Handful black olives (chopping is optional)
Juice of ½ small lemon
Heat oil in large heavy based stockpot and fry onions on low heat for about 10 minutes till soft but not browned. Stir in garlic, rice, water, saffron, stock powder, carrots, chickpeas and some black pepper. Bring to the boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer. After30 minutes scatter with peppers, peas and tomatoes. Cover and return to simmer for a further 10 minutes. If, unlike me, you have time and read the recipe properly, Rose advises to remove from the heat and leave covered an additional 15 minutes before fluffing rice with a fork. I just stirred and served without the recommended wait.
On the stereo:
The Ghost Sonata: Tuxedo Moon