This technique for cooking rice provides a rich, delicious and flavoursome result. The technique can be used to create many different variations on the theme and depending on the additions to the rice while cooking, the pilaf can be served as a rice dish to accompany other meat, fish or vegetable dishes or can itself be the main event for an informal lunch or supper. The possible additions to a pilaf are many, and you can think about those in the same way as you would a risotto and, indeed, the two dishes have similarities. Try to keep vegetable additions in season.
Kale is another of those vegetables that is not regarded as being glamorous, but when cooked properly is as delicious and stylish as anything. Its more stylish cousins, such as the ragged-leaved and purple-tinged Red Russian or the long, dark and plume-like-leaved Nero di Toscano, otherwise known as Black Tuscany or Cavolo Nero, can also be cooked in the manner suggested here. Any of the kales are great in soups and broths, in purées, folded through mashed potatoes, in gratins, as a topping for grilled bread, as a simple accompanying vegetable to poultry, meat and fish and so on. Tiny pinched pieces of the raw kales can also be added to the winter green salad bowl.
At the times of the year when I do not have purslane, I replace it with rocket leaves or foraged wild greens.
This mashed potato is flavoured with old fashioned English mustard powder and is perfect to serve with beef dishes or oily fish like mackerel. This is a slightly richer version of mashed potatoes, but you can decide if you want to cut down a little on the egg and cream. I make it according to the recipe and just serve it in smaller quantities. It pairs really well with tomato dishes and also with a simple cabbage dish.
I could bore you to tears extolling the virtues of cabbage. It is a wonderful vegetable and, in my opinion, much undervalued. There are many lovely varieties of cabbage and I particularly like the crinkly green leaves of the Savoy cabbage. Essentially, the important thing is to buy the one that's in season when you are making this purée. I avoid the white cabbages, especially the canon-ball like 'Dutch' cabbage. In my opinion, it would be better used in target practice than in the kitchen. This purée is good with most meats and poultry. I sometimes serve it with venison and wild duck and it has been successful with roast and grilled fish.
I don't buy into the smallest is best approach when it comes to choosing vegetables; clearly there is an optimum size for different vegetables. For me, the carrot picked from the ground to be consumed as soon as possible in its raw state needs to be as thick as my little finger, but for this method for cooking carrots, the carrots need to be at least as fat and as long as your thumb. These small carrots can be cooked whole. Larger ones, which need to be sliced, also work perfectly here. There are several variations to the master recipe, and I think this method for cooking carrots can open your eyes as to how good carrots can be.
For those among you who don't possess a deep-fry, but long for chips, these potatoes are perfect. The scrubbed potatoes are left unpeeled and cut into large wedge-shaped chips, with each wedge having some of the skin attached. The skin on each piece of potato is important as it prevents them from sticking to the roasting tray and, of course, also has a delicious crispy flavour. When buying potatoes, if possible, buy them unwashed as the soil will keep in the flavour and nutrients. Serve the potatoes with roast and grilled meat, poultry or fish. They are a great accompaniment to a warm salad, and you can ring the changes with the use of different herbs.
These cucumbers are immensely popular. Serve with cold meats, pates and terrines, smoked fish, sandwiches, spiced beef and with a sharp and mature cheddar cheese. The pickle keeps well in the fridge, though it does lose its bright green colour. I like to slice the cucumbers and onions really thinly for a more melting and tender result. There will be some of the pickling liquid left after the cucumbers are eaten. I like to save this and use it for sprinkling on thinly sliced onions for an instant pickle.
Many people believe that preparing and cooking beetroot is a long and wearisome process. Not the case here, where the beets are simply peeled in their raw state, grated and dressed and then ready to eat. I use an Irish goat's cheese such as St Tola or Ardsallagh in this salad. A few rocket leaves and/or mint leaves could also be added to this salad for a fresh green twist.