There are certain hazards to being a cookery writer.
Complete strangers, for example, have a
fondness for telling me in great detail the
recipe for …
I know it’s kindly meant, but it’s a bit like discussing your tax return
with an accountant at a party.
Friends, meanwhile, love setting culinary challenges, especially ones
that involve using up excess pink and purple garden produce.
Apparently, too much rhubarb, beetroot, damsons or red
cabbage can result in family rebellion. The repeated appearance of red cabbage
for supper, for example, has a similar effect on the recipients to that
experienced by Mr Pooter when the dread
kept appearing at his table in
of a Nobody
by George and Weedon Grossmith
I told Sarah not to bring up the
again for breakfast.
It seems to have been placed on our table at every meal
since Wednesday …
In spite of my instructions, that
was brought up again for
To make matters worse,
there had been an attempt to disguise, it, by placing it in a glass dish with
jam around it.
Carrie asked Lupin
if he would have some, and he replied: ‘No second-hand goods for me, thank
I told Carrie, when we were
alone, if that
placed on the table again I should walk out of the house.
In a bid to meet my friends’ culinary challenges and ensure
familial peace across the land, here are some suggestions, along with a few of
my favourite recipes (see Lucky dip index) for rhubarb, beetroot, damsons and
run rampant, so try to pick slender, tender stems. Very large stems have a
coarse texture and, if not being sieved, will need to be peeled. Ideally use
them in pureed or strained dishes such as rhubarb mousse, ice cream, jelly,
sorbet and cordial.
To prepare: discard the leaves, they’re poisonous, and slice
off the brownish cut ends.
thoroughly and cut into even-sized chunks, so that they cook evenly. Those in
need of disguising their rhubarb could try mixing it with fresh raspberries,
strawberries or red currants and baking it in cobblers, crumbles, pies and
almond sponges. Or, they could subvert it further by turning it into jelly,
sorbet, ice cream, fool, mousse or syrup, flavoured with elderflower, lavender
or distilled rose water.
See Lucky dip index for:
rhubarb rose water cordial; rhubarb meringue pie.
eaten when small and tender and is harvested from mid May to the end of
Red, yellow, white or
pink and white striped Chiogga beetroot are all cooked in the same way and
taste very similar.
leaves can be cooked in the same way as spinach.
To prepare: wash under cold running water and don’t trim or
peel, or they will bleed too much and lose their flavour.
You can either boil or bake them.
Beetroot the size of a large egg will
take about 45 minutes to bake at 170°C/gas 3 (loosely wrapped in foil) and 30
minutes to boil if added to boiling water.
Test if they are cooked by rubbing their skin with your
thumb; if it peels easily they’re cooked.
Beetroot taste wonderful in different types of salads.
Here are some ingredients to play with:
oranges, nut oils, honey, dill, apples, walnuts, celery, bitter lettuces,
chicory, horseradish, pickled cucumbers, chives, shallots, soft cheeses, Feta,
rye breads, cold meats, smoked fish, sour cream, all manner of vinegars, lime
Some of these flavourings
also taste good with hot beetroot, as does roast meats and gravy.
See Lucky dip index for: goat’s cheese, beetroot and
samphire salad; beetroot crisps.
are in season
in the last three weeks of September. It’s worth turning your damsons into puree
or juice, which can be frozen and used later.
The puree can be turned into damson cheese, fool, ice cream
The juice can be
transformed into a pudding jelly, preserve jelly or syrup.
One kilo of fresh damsons will yield
780ml puree if cooked with no water or 400ml if tipped into a jelly bag
I’m presuming that
everyone will have considered making damson gin.
See Lucky dip index for: damson cheese, damson ice cream.
planted out in their winter beds in July and August, so it will be some months
yet before they’ll start to overwhelm gardener cooks.
They keep exceptionally well, even in the bottom of the
remove their outer leaves, quarter and core, then cut according to your
cooked with acidic fruit such as apples to help preserve their purple colour,
but they’re also good in sweet sour style of salads, such as apple, dried
cranberry and walnut oil.
even come across red cabbage salads that are dressed in black treacle and
Apparently they originate
See Lucky dip index for: oriental coleslaw, red cabbage with