Hidden on the book shelves, amongst my favourite cookery books, there is a cuckoo. He, if as a chap myself I can give masculine gender to this cuckoo, has no right to be there and, over the years, I have tried to oust him from the nest. Jenny, has prevented this, so the same cuckoo, in her view, is distinctly feminine. This hermaphrodite cuckoo has hung on, by the tips of beak and claw and the dissimulation of Jenny, to his far from rightful place in the sun. There is touch of the magpie in this cuckoo. Although he, as a cuckoo, has little originality to offer, the magpie in him has gathered a trove of glittering little gems over the years, and faithfully brought them back to this nest. I have gone about this tale in a roundabout fashion in order not to bestow any form of compliment on the printed pages attached to the spine of this cuckoo. The value lies in the trinkets that have been slid between the pages and the covers during the past 35 years. Blazoned on the front is the name of a celebrated English supermarket together with the title ” French Cooking”. This is post 70’s dinner party French cooking that is as French as the eponymous “letter” and, in the same way as this “letter”, is very useful on occasion in that it works most of the time but tends to reduce the pleasure.
Hidden amongst the pages of the cuckoo I came across the carefully cut out cardboard back of a box of brown rice. This is not smart brown rice, it’s 10 minute “precuit bio riz complet”. Whatever; a box of this standby is normally to be found in our store cupboard, but the recipes change and the one in the cuckoo book is the one that I use. It involves green peppers which at last brings a relevance to the picture in this post. It is very good, and would probably work very well with real brown rice, which I cook as often as I wear socks with sandals, so I can’t vouch for that.
Brown rice with Green Peppers and Onions
Ingredients for 4 people: 250gms of brown rice (quick cook variety), 600ml of vegetable stock (like Marigold), 400gm tin of chopped tomatoes or, ideally, 400gms of good, homemade tomato sauce, 1 onion finely chopped,1 clove of garlic finely sliced,2 large onions finely sliced, 2 green peppers cut into strips. olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
Rinse the rice under running water in a sieve. In a thick bottomed saucepan, soften the onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the the chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce and continue the cooking for another few minutes. Add the rice and stock, bringing it slowly to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for around 20mins. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, cook the slices of onion and pepper. I cut the slices quite thickly and cook them in very hot olive oil so that that quickly get caramalised edges, whilst still keeping some crunch. Serve the rice with a topping of sticky edged onion and pepper slices that have been sprinkled with cayenne pepper.
Surprisingly good for a cuckoo.