IN THE FINEST TRADITION

Q: What is the oldest recipe collection in the world?

 It seems that wherever you turn at the moment, Europe is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Whether it’s the Euro versus the dollar, the babushkas performance at Eurovision or the early morning Euro 2012 matches – European Culture is well and truly on the agenda in Australia. So without further ado, this week we’re featuring traditional dishes from the hot contenders at the Euro 2012’s competition and celebrating the fresh produce that makes them odds on favourites.

GERMANY

Red Cabbage:

Image: www.marketfresh.com.au

Availability: all year, best Mar – May
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients

Traditional dish: ROTKOHL (sweet & sour red cabbage) often served with winter dishes such as beef in buttermilk

Modern inspiration: Mustard and sage pork cutlets with red wine cabbage and lentils

 

SPAIN:

Tomatoes (Heirloom):

Photo: SG&S

Availability: all year, fluctuates
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients

Traditional dish: GAZPACHOraw vegetable soup served cold

Modern inspiration: Hand-pounded Gazpacho

 

FRANCE:

Aubergine: aka eggplant

Image: freepik

Availability: all year, best Jan – Jul
Appearance: smooth purple fruit- pear shaped with glossy skin
Selection: look for firm, glossy, bright, skin. Should feel heavy for size.
Prep: highly versatile, can be sauteed, baked, roasted, fried, stuffed, stir fried, steamed or grilled

Traditional dish: RATATOUILLEvegetable dish often used as a side

Modern inspiration: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Indian ratatouille recipe

 

ENGLAND:

Rhubarb:

Image: www.telegraph.co.uk

Availability: all year, best Jun – Dec
Appearance: look likes red celery
Selection: choose stalks that are crisp, firm, glossy and bright
Prep: once leaves are removed, cook and add to pies, crumbles or even slice finely and add to a salad

Traditional dish: RHUBARB & CUSTARD

Modern inspiration: Rhubarb semifreddo and pistachio cream with a honey madeleine

 

ITALY:

Tuscan Cabbage: aka Black Cabbage or Cavalo Nero

Image: www.bbc.co.uk/food

 

Availability: all year
Appearance: sold in bunches of long dark green leaves. The leaves are heavily bubbled with a thick, white vein from stem to tip
Selection: look for firm, plump stalks and bright, fresh leaves
Prep: traditionally used in soups and pastas or steamed, also a fantastic stir-fry vegetable

Traditional dish: RIBOLITTA: Tuscan Cabbage bread soup

Modern inspiration: Ditalini, borlotti bean and cavolo nero soup

 

RUSSIA:

Beetroot:

Image: www.guardian.co.uk

Availability: all year, best during cooler months
Appearance: bright red – deep purple tuber (often has white streaks)
Selection: choose beets that are crisp, firm, glossy and bright- fresh leaves are a good indicator
Prep: rinse in cold water, cook in boiling water, then remove skin

Traditional dish: BORSCHT

Modern Inspiration: Beetroot Soup with fetta

 

A: While many chefs have heard of ‘De re coquinaria’ (The Art of Cooking by Apicius) there is actually a much older recipe book in the Yale University Collection. The recipes are carved into ancient tablets dating back to approximately 1700BC. Originally believed to be pharmaceutical/medicinal in nature, it was only when successfully deciphered in the mid 80s that they were identified as recipes. Jean Bottero who translated the tablets describes the food as “a cuisine of striking richness, refinement, sophistication and artistry, which is surprising from such an early period. Previously we would not have dared to think a cuisine 4,000 years old was so advanced.”

 

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