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What do you think of, when you think about country recipes ? Recipes which start with ‘ Take half a calf’s head..’ ? Endless jars of jams and chutneys ? Old cook books do contain these recipes, but The Country Cook is much more modern.

After all, in most parts of Britain, country residents aren’t more than ten or twenty miles from a major supermarket, even if there isn’t a lot of food about these days.

Annie Bell had been the cookery writer at Country Living for four years, when she wrote The Country Cook, which is subtitled ‘ 100 ways to home-cooked heaven’

There are almost forty recipes in the book, which are either low carb, keto or tweakable, kicking off with grilled goat’s cheese and Prosciutto rolls. If you’re in the UK and on a budget, you’ll find Prosciutto di Parma (Parma ham) with the gold crown of authenticity at Lidl and ASDA, at a better price than Waitrose or Marks and Spencer.

For more info on prosciutto FOODIE FIND: PROSCIUTTO PARMA HAM The one thing which marks out Parma ham as special, as opposed to any other ham available, is that it has no additives. This means that you can scoff it happily and give it to children in packed lunches.

There’s a delicious-looking courgette frittata early on. Frittatas are useful for cramming veggies into kids, using leftover veg and gluts of vegetables and/or eggs. They can be refrigerated for packed lunches the next day, too.

Photo by Angele J on

Winter minestrone soup is low carb-friendly, because this is a minestrone without pasta, using lower carb vegetables such as swede and celeriac (suggest ditching carrot or reducing quantity). There’s a parsley pesto as well, which would be useful for other recipes, too.

Oxtail is not the cheap offal ingredient that it used to be. Currently (12/09/21) 500g of Eversfield Organic oxtail is £8 at Abel & Cole and Riverford has 500g of organic oxtail for 7.10. My local butcher sells oxtail for 12.99 per kilo, but this isn’t organic. Braised oxtail and onions requires 2kg of oxtail, to feed six people.

Cabbage with caraway seeds uses Savoy cabbage and either EVOO (Extra Virgin olive oil) or duck or pork fat. Simple, few ingredients but sounds great.

focus photography of green cabbage
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There’s an actual sugar free, sweetener-free chocolate sauce which uses coffee, which we really want to try.

Other recipes: Potted kippers, chicken liver and apple parfait, pesto, tomato and chilli soup, lamb koftas, casserole of lamb shanks, roast leg of lamb with black olives, Alex Beard’s five hour roast lamb, ragu, marinade, butter-roasted saffron chicken, poached chicken with saffron mayonnaise, drunken guinea fowl, prawn brochettes, mackerel escabeche, tartare dressing, relish, salsa verde, langoustine stew, poached trout with yogurt cucumber and dill sauce, poached salmon with sorrel mayonnaise, dressing, mayonnaise, marinated vegetable salad, roasted roots, air-dried ham and salad of roasted roots with caper dressing, roasted squash with red onion, fresh tomato sauce, peppers in oil and finally, slow-roasted tomatoes.

THE COUNTRY COOK Annie Bell (Collins & Brown, 2007)
ISBN 9781843403616

Verdict: If you’re doing Paleo or catering for hearty kitchen suppers for friends and family or wanting to update a bit from trad country cooking BUY

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