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Friday, 11 September 2015

A day of cooking from the Riverford Farm Cookbook

I usually have Fridays off. Phew...I love the anticipation of a day when I perhaps meet up with my writer friends for a lunch where we all bring a dish, have a feast, and talk about books and our writing. If not, I'm probably at the allotment or in the kitchen cooking , or at this time of year, making jam.

Now, this is an old favourite cook book of mine, published back in 2008 by 4th Estate...which I found out about when I met the team from Riverford at a local food fair shortly afterwards..

That's what the cover used to look like - it has now been "customised" by my terrier Eric...who decided to rip the front cover off and chew some of the pages.

But as the saying goes, you should never judge a book by its cover, and this old battered copy is a trusted and tried favourite. Written by Guy Watson, an organic farmer who's been growing vegetables for years and years, and Jane Baxter , who seems to have worked everywhere, including the River CafĂ©, this is an immensely practical book with pages and pages of quick and easy, but above all  tasty and seasonal recipes to make the most of your vegetables.

I've made so many of these recipes time and time again...especially the delicious sweetcorn fritters on page 370 and the braised red cabbage on page 83 which is made every autumn and winter. But the whole point of these foodie Friday posts is to try new recipes from my ever growing collection of cookery books.

And so, I delved into the previously untried pages of beetroot recipes. You see, I've always hated beetroot. I can remember the yucky taste of beetroot in vinegar as a child, and I vowed with hand on heart, that when I was a grown up, and I could choose what I wanted to eat, I would never, ever eat beetroot again.

And it's a vow I've stuck to for years, until my friend Debbie made a gorgeous Ottoleghi beetroot and walnut salad. I was intrigued, this was really nice! So this year, for the first time, I grew beetroot, only three rows though...just in case, that recipe was a one off and I found out I still didn't really like it.

And as soon as they were big enough, I opened the Riverford Farm cookbook to try some new ways of cooking them.

And here is the recipe that I have tried first....and I fear this may become an addiction.

Beetroot Gratin


1kg of beetroot, peeled
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml double cream
2 sprigs of summer savoury, chopped or rosemary or thyme (I prefer thyme)
sea salt and black pepper

How to make

1.Thinly slice the should be 2-3mm thick

2.Mix the garlic and cream in a small pan and bring to the boil.Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

3.Put the sliced beetroot in a bowl and add some seasoning. Add the cream mixture and herbs and mix thoroughly so the beetroot is coated with cream. ( I must confess I added some extra)

4. Arrange in a 30cm gratin dish, ciover with foil and bake in a  preheated oven at 160 degs/gas mark 3 for 40 minutes.

5.Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the beetroot is tender.

And that's it. So easy and full of garlicky goodness which marries so well with the sweet softness beetroot. You will love it! Now I know you may think that's a rather sweeping statement. OK, I suppose it is, but so many beetroot haters I know simply adore this recipe.My son for one, and his girlfriend Ellie .She had joined us for supper last Sunday night for a roast. She was starving, but when she saw the deep pink creamy dish, she said an unequivical No!

"Try a teaspoonful "we all urged. She eventually did, with the greatest reluctance I might add, and before I knew it, she was piling her plate high. And she ate every mouthful.

I'm now making my way through the other beetroot recipes in this book. Chocolate beetroot brownies anyone?

But the Riverford Farm Cook Book isn't just a collection of tasty recipes. We learn how the vegetables are grown, there's tips on storage and preparation from years of experience from an organic grower, and the connection between growing organically and we are what we eat.

Meanwhile, I 've already decided that I'm definitely growing far more beetroot next year at the allotment!

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