A cuckoo in the nest…

green_peppers2a_0013Hidden 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.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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34 Responses to A cuckoo in the nest…

  1. cecilia says:

    Those cuckoos are sneaky birds.. we have a very, very old cuckoo clock, i am awaiting the appearance of a cuckoo clock fixer as it is cuckoo-less on its present state. (do you think that has anything to do with a cuckold?.. oh.. when I think about that.. obviously it does, that cuckoo has some very unsavoury nest habits, I am surprised you did not encounter other recipe books being tossed OFF your shelves at random moments by your cuckoo book) anyway, as I was saying those cuckoo books have hidden depths. Your quick brown fox rice sounds like something I might like to have as lazy rainy day dinner.. I even have capsicums lurking in the garden.. c

    • I was wondering how my books seem to be continually moving around. I thought it was on account of an ageing memory, so I’m glad to be able to put it down to the cuckoo’s behaviour. By the way, I just watched the All Blacks give a rugby lesson to South Africa…amazing.

  2. margaret21 says:

    That sounds worthy but not dull. I’ve popped it in to what passes for my memory for later.

  3. I love finding long-lost recipes. They were stashed away in the leaves of our cookery books for a reason. Can’t wait to try this one.

  4. Hmm…simple dish, but it seems fitting for that cuckoo problem of yours!

  5. Eha says:

    Hmm: no socks with sandals, granted, but this gal eats brown rice needing the full treatment about 4-5 times a week . . . appetizing recipe to fall out of said favoured book tho’ . . . 🙂 !

  6. Haha, socks with sandals….. not an outfit for a French man!!! The brown rice recipe with bell peppers sounds like a delicious quicky!

  7. other than the green peppers, this is a good recipe to have hidden away!

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    Though I can agree, like everyone else, that I do enjoy finding lost recipes, I just wish I could find them when I’m looking for them and not 3 weeks later. I fear that in this house, it’s not the bird that’s cuckoo.

  9. I gave up on sliding cut-out recipes into books when they became too numerous- I’ve now got a huge file that is overflowing with ripped out pages of magazines and sauce-stained cardboard packet sides. Must try your recipe- I haven’t eaten any since I was little…. in the ’70s 🙂

  10. Mad Dog says:

    I was in an old Catalan restaurant for lunch last week and in the middle of eating an exceptionally loud cuckoo flew out of a clock and made the whole restaurant jump!

  11. Karen says:

    I always have a box of quick cook brown rice in my pantry. Your recipe sounds simple and comforting…reminds me of a Spanish dish. 🙂

  12. catterel says:

    Beautiful photo – looks like an excerpt from an old Dutch master. Nice sounding recipe, too. Thanks!

  13. Beautiful photo and it’s always good ot find cuckoos in the nest…we have just started on the next house reovation and I came across a Creda Cooker Cookbook from 1952!

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