I think we tend to feel we’re adventurous and different in the way we cook, that our parents and grandparents ate dull food, cooked in a dull way, from dull ingredients. However, a quick glance through an old cookery books shows some most unusual ways of cooking and combing ingredients – maybe not to our taste, but there was a huge variety of suggestions for humble items such as beetroot and radishes.
Creamed beetroot is a recipe in the ninety year old Modern Practical Cookery. Two beetroot are boiled, skinned, diced, and added to a white sauce which also has grated raw onion and chopped hard-boiled eggs. I’m not sure I want to go to all the trouble of doing that, because I rather think no-one but me would lie it, and would even I like it? Brussels sprout fritters? Sprouts in gravy? Boiled or buttered cucumber? Would mashed potato and apple sauce be a thing? What would you eat it with? “Radishes are excellent when cooked and served as a vegetable,” the book tells me, boiled for half an hour and served in a white sauce… I think probably not!
Maybe it was how people liked their vegetables, cooked longer than we would, or maybe the varieties were such that they needed cooking for longer, but I do somehow doubt it. One vegetable for which there are three recipes which might surprise some people is aubergine; deep-fried chip-shaped slices, grilled rounds with butter served with bacon, sprinkled with chopped parsley and eaten for breakfast, and then a stuffed aubergine supper dish.
Stuffed baked aubergine
- 1 aubergine, parboiled
- 2 oz mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tbsp minced onion
- 1½ oz breadcrumbs
- 1½ oz butter
- finely grated cheese
- salt and pepper
- split the aubergine in half and gently scrape out the inside and rub through a sieve or chop finely
- fry the mushrooms and then separately the onion in the butter
- mix the sieved/chopped aubergine, mushrooms. onions and breadcrumbs and season to taste
- fill the aubergine halves with the mixture and bake for about 20 mins
- sprinkle with the cheese before serving
I think I would swap the mushrooms for herbs as for some reason I’m not that keen on mushrooms any more. An alternative to the cheese, is buttered crumbs… I guess they are breadcrumbs fried in butter! Maybe both would work, especially if the aubergines were popped back in the oven to melt the cheese and crisp the crumbs.