“Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book” is the January and February selection for the Cookbook Guru. This is an on-line virtual book club for cookbook fans.
Here is how it works, at the beginning of every second month a recipe book is announced, you get the next two months to pick a recipe from that book and create a post around it. If this sounds like something that you’d be interested in being a part of, make sure you jump over to The Cookbook Guru for the new year’s book list and to see how it all works. Join in for one or all books, or just follow along to see what we create. The more people we have as part of the book club the more value we get out of the experience and our current members are passionate foodies and regular commenters that love to talk about each of our experiences with the books we have been cooking from.
If you would like to join but don’t have a food blog, you can still be part. Check out the Facebook Page and post your photographs and comments there. You can also post photos of Instagram, be sure to tag the group @thecookbookguru.
For me cookbooks verge on an obsession and no opportunity to sample another gets past me. A book club with like minded individuals is a joy! I was already familiar with Jane Grigson as I had an earlier book of hers, “Good Times”. It was one of the first books in my collection. Jane Grigson deserves a place with other early pioneers of wonderful food like Elizabeth David and Julia Child. She was part of a revolution in the kitchen.
The first thing my husband said on seeing the book was “What, no pictures!” Modern cookbooks have gorgeous photographs and a whole food styling industry has grown up around it. I sometimes think that the recipes have suffered and taken second place. This book has some simple line drawings but no pictures. The emphasis is on the recipes.
I did find that some of recipes in this cookbook are more a set of directions than a detailed description. None of the recipes seemed overly complicated or filled with exotic ingredients, but I think beginning cooks might have a difficult time. Her assumption is that you are fairly comfortable in the kitchen.
As a gardener I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of various vegetables, some of them were unfamiliar to me (even more fun). Each chapter is a different vegetable or family group of vegetables; she includes entertaining background information as well as recipes. It is a fun book to read and will become a valuable reference.
That being said, I found some of the recipes dated. I definitely see the touch of the 70’s. Cooking and styles of eating have changed since then. It took me quite a while to settle on a recipe although I gained inspiration for several other posts.
I decided to make (it’s the name that got me):
PERSIAN SPINACH KUKU
Or KUKUYE ESPANAJ
This is essentially a flat Spanish tortilla, or crustless quiche, or omelet made with spinach, potato and eggs. There is no cheese, something I might add next time. I think the flavor would be improved by a touch of Parmesan.
- 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
- 8 tablespoons of olive oil or clarified butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 lb (1/2 kg) of spinach, blanched and chopped (I used two small bags of organic baby spinach, blanched for 2 minutes)
- 5 eggs
- Salt, pepper, pinch sugar (I did not use), lemon juice (I used grated lemon rind)
- Blanch the spinach in a few tablespoons of boiling water, stirring to make sure it all cooks. Drain, pressing down to get rid of all the liquid. Chop and put into a large bowl.
- Peel the potato and cut into small to medium dice.
- Melt the butter or warm the olive oil in a non-stick oven proof skillet on medium high heat.
- Add the potato and sauté until beginning to brown.
- Meanwhile chop the onion, add it to the skillet with the potato. Continue to cook until the onion is softened and potato is golden brown.
- Add the mixture to the bowl with the spinach and mix. Season well with salt, pepper and lemon rind or juice.
- Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the spinach mixture.
- Melt the second 4 tablespoons of butter or olive oil to the skillet, and pour in the spinach/egg/potato/onion mix. Flatten it to an even layer.
- Cover and heat on medium for 15 minutes. The center should just be firm.
- At this point you can either broil the top to brown it, or slide it out onto a plate and turn to brown the other side. Bake a few minutes longer.
This can also be baked in a gratin dish and served with tomato sauce or yogurt.
I cut it into triangles and we had it for brunch. It was delicious cold the next day. A bit of crumbled bacon would be a good addition.