Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fannie Cradock (TV chef)

I've been spending a happy half-hour (of work time, naturally) with The Greens Cookbook. How come nobody told me about this before? It's practically the Vegetarian's Bible. I keep spotting recipes that I've seen other veggie books or restaurants plagiarise. Like Rose Eliot (who gave birth to the Nut Roast), Deborah Madison was a forerunner of today's vegetarian cookery. She really knows her flavours, combining surprising ingredients that I suspect would work every time. I'm a cookbook pro, and I've seen a million recipes for chestnut bourgignonne and mushroom stroganoff. So I am DEEPLY shocked to be surprised by a recipe. In a really good way. Buying this yet? If you aren't clicking through to the online shop right now, then maybe you WANT to only eat cauliflower korma and penne arrabiatta for the rest of your life? (Hm, should do another post on great veggie books - wouldn't that be fun? For me, at least.)

ANYway, this Vegetarian Bible contains probably hundreds of recipes, and each one manages to be innovative. I have already tried some of its ideas - stolen from other chefs who stole them from Madison - and so I can tell you that Rosemary Linguine with Caramelised Onions and Walnuts is an incredible combination of flavours. Or that Red Onion and Goat's Cheese Pizza really, really does work. (Thanks for tempting me, Pizza Express.)

Which leads me on to the recipe. It's hardly even a recipe: just a suggested combination of ingredients for a quick dinner. Deborah Madison includes snipped sundried tomatoes, green olives and shredded mozzarella on top of hers. But we ate it fast and simple, with a green salad. And I didn't even cook it. Anything that gets my husband in and out of the kitchen this quick is definitely worth a try! Here's our rustic version of Deborah Madison's 21st-century classic.

1 pizza base (buy, or make your own)
2-3 red onions
1-2tsp red wine vinegar

1 log mild goat's cheese
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Stretch out the pizza base as thinly as you can on a large baking sheet, and preheat the oven to about 180 C. Set the base aside, and slice the onions very thinly. Soften them on the lowest possible heat with a slug of oil and red vinegar, for at least 15 minutes. Taste to adjust the balance of flavours - adding salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar according to your liking. (The onions should be quite sharp and sticky to work with the mild cheese.) Spread them all over the pizza base, top with crumbled goat's cheese (and optional mozzarella), and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes and serve with green salad.