Sunday 10 July 2016

Book review: Riverford Companion - Autumn & Winter

This is a very exciting book. Guy Watson and his team of chefs have created a lovely cookbook that shows you how to create wholesome and delicious dishes using local, seasonal vegetables. There are two volumes of the Riverford Companion series; one for autumn and winter (which I am reviewing today) and a second for spring and summer. I am aware it is now spring, but the meals in the winter edition are delicious, the current rainy weather still permits a heartwarming dish and at the time of writing this I am receiving just the last of the winter harvest in my veg box.

The team were perceptive whilst designing the book; having a chapter dedicated to each vegetable makes understanding the flavour and potential of them accessible. This layout is innovative and more appropriate for the task of "taming your vegetables". The book gets its name from its intended purpose as a "companion" to a veg box; to enlighten customers and prevent them from feeling lost, confused and sad upon receiving, for example, a bag of Jerusalem Artichokes (make soup!) or Salsify (sautée!). I agree completely with this title.  

Using this book was very fun, educational and interesting. I do not regularly cook many British vegetables as vegan cooking hasn't adapted to incorporate them frequently. The Riverford Companion, however opened a lot of doors for me, though book is omnivorous, there are vegan dishes (vegetarian too). Also at the beginning of each chapter is an introduction that explains fundamental preparatory and cooking guidelines for the vegetable along with what other food said vegetable works well with. This feature makes it easy to use include new vegetables in dishes I am already comfortable with, for example using sliced parsnip in a curry as they recommend pairing parsnip with cumin, coriander and turmeric.


I tried a few recipes from the book, all the meals were successful, without confusion and with a wholesome, satisfying and quality taste, which seems to be their style running throughout the dishes. My favourite was the Squash and Black bean chilli, it had a lovely mix of flavours and just the right amount of heat. The roasted Beetroot, Carrot, lentil and cumin seed salad comes in second, a dish I foresee being a regular in the work lunchbox. 

One of the best cookbooks I have used.  It is honest, accurate, enthusiastic and full of brilliant content. Although a picture of every dish would be nice. The Riverford Companion reconnects us with our local environment by teaching how to use seasonal food grown in our surroundings. They seem to be starting a revival of the British cuisine, unfortunately I don't know many who regularly include jerusalem artichoke, dandelion leaves, fennel, squash, pumpkin, cabbage in their daily diet. Yet these are all things which grow around us. And as the book illustrates, it can definitely be delicious and nourishing.

To buy this book click here
Price £12.99

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