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The recipes in Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables range from simple salads such as Brussels Sprout Leaves, Mozzarella, and Anchovies, or Roasted Cucumber, Quinoa, Freekah, and Herbs, to hearty dishes such as Soft Parmesan Polenta with Crab and Mussels, or Braised Eggplant, Tomato, and Meatballs. They also include satisfying snacks like Irene's Tzatziki, or Smoked Tomato and Goat's Curd Gougéres, as well as desserts, such as Carrot Cake with Grated Carrot, Preserved Lemon, Raisin, and Ginger Pickle, or Creamed Rice Pudding. While many of the 80 plus dishes will appeal to vegetarians, there are plenty that incorporate meat. In all of them, Mr. Wilkinson's vegetables are the stars.
With beautiful photography and vintage illustrations, the book is both timely and timeless.
Praise for Matt Wilkinson and Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables:
"Matt Wilkinson makes you look at vegetables differently! This book. ...will leave you eager to prepare one of his many delicious recipes."--Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin More...
An Excerpt from the Introduction by Matt Wilkinson:
A GREEN THUMB
So why a book on vegetables, I hear you ask? It's quite simple. Thinking about the vegetables first is how I cook. I look to the season we are in to get my ideas about what will be on the menu where I'm working or what I will eat at home that night, and there is no better way to find out what is in season than looking at the often underrated vegetable. I build my dish around what vegetables are in season because this is when they will be the cheapest, most readily available and, most importantly, taste the best--and surely this has to be the most important factor when cooking. It's a simple concept that when things are in season, they taste so much better. But, then, how have we lost this simple thought process to eating?
Look at each season. In spring, I walk into the garden and I feel alive--there is a fresh and crisp feeling in the air and soil, the trees are budding and their leaves have sprung forth. When I harvest the beans or peas from their stalks, there is a zingy snap to them--whether cooked or raw they taste so sweet. In summer, the earth is warmed and the plants almost hot to touch; with careful watering, they stay alert as though they are ready for battle. Just close your eyes and think of the smell of tomatoes--it's unmistakable and makes my mouth salivate waiting for the first bite. Autumn arrives and the mood around the garden softens, the plants are readying themselves for the cooler weather. The vegetable patch has had a great time; the basil, sorrel, spinach and Swiss chard are looking magnificent and the butternut squash and zucchini are still going great guns. When winter arrives, I add the years’ compost and some manure to the soil and look at my blooming red cabbages that have been in the ground for so many months now. The broccoli is so alive and glowing such a deep green that I think I might harvest it for dinner tonight, and the salad leaves are crisp and so fresh.
Once I have decided what seasonal bounty to make the most of, and considered how the flavors will marry together, I then add the protein to my dish, usually meat or seafood, then some carbs if needed.
If you think back to times gone by, this was the way everyone had to eat. For most people, meat and seafood were not readily available, were too expensive or were hard to store (no fridges or freezers then). Over the past fifty years, technology has meant we can be a little lazy in our food thinking, with great cuts of meat and seafood on hand. Today a lot of people think about what protein they feel like eating--will it be beef or chicken, fish or pork? Then what starch will be added to bulk out the meal and, as a final touch, throw in a few vegetables. This is where I'm a little different with my veg-first approach. I hope you feel inspired, while reading this book, to try the old-fashioned method of choosing the vegetable first. Vegetables are so much more diverse in flavor, types, and availability than any old piece of meat.
HEIRLOOM CARROT SALAD, YOGURT, ALMOND & HONEY DRESSING
Quite simply a beautiful dish. The almond and honey dressing really lifts the carrots to a new level. Please try it. This looks spectacular plated individually or on a big platter for the center of the table.
Serves 4 as an entree or as a salad to share
Almond and Honey Dressing
20 small heirloom carrots (purple, white and orange varieties or just use small dutch carrots), washed and trimmed (but not peeled)
3/4 cup organic plain yogurt
1/2 bunch fenugreek or purslane, picked and washed
8 small nasturtium leaves
8 nasturtium flowers (any color)
3/4 cup organic raw almonds, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey (I use orange blossom)
1 tablespoon chardonnay vinegar
1 tablespoon orange-flower water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 long red chili, sliced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the almond and honey dressing, place the almonds and butter in a 4-cup capacity saucepan. Place over medium heat and gently warm until the butter starts to foam. Keep it on the heat and, when the butter turns a hazelnut color (beurre noisette), add the honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce by one-fifth. Add the vinegar, orange-flower water and lemon juice, bring back to a boil, turn down the heat and cook gently for 3 minutes. Pull off the heat, add the chili, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool. This dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months--just gently warm before using.
Place the carrots in a saucepan of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes or until tender. Test the carrots with a sharp knife to see if they're cooked. Drain, then while the carrots are still hot, cut the larger ones in half, place in a bowl and toss in 3 tablespoons of the dressing.
To assemble, plate one-quarter of the yogurt on each plate, then assemble the carrots on top. Dress with a little more dressing (making sure to scoop some of the almonds up) and scatter over the herbs and flowers.
Note: If purslane, fenugreek and/or nasturtium leaves and flowers aren't readily available, you could just use Italian parsley, baby basil shoots and some small arugula leaves.
Copyright © 2013 by Matt Wilkinson. Reprinted from Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables with permission from Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, distributed by Workman Publishing.
Yorkshire-born, Melbourne-based chef Matt Wilkinson is passionate about food in season, farmers' markets, and local producers.
As the former head chef at the award-winning Circa the Prince, Wilkinson ushered in an era of organics and garden-to-kitchen rustic fine dining. He now co-owns and runs Pope Joan and the neighboring bar Bishop of Ostia in Melbourne, which have cult followings for their fresh, seasonal food. He is also the co-owner and chef of franchise of 11 Spudbar slow-food, fast food shops in Australia.
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Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables