Garden Cookbook, 343pp.
by Arabella Boxer
Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1974
Cooking on page 132
Heaven only knows how long I have had this book. It was published in the UK in 1974—long before I thought I ought to be cooking. So I must have picked it up second-hand in Australia or the Middle East.
Arabella Boxer is considered to be one of the UK’s most consistently popular cookery writers of her generation.
I have a couple of her cookbooks and this one jumped off the shelf first. There’s a recipe for lettuce and hazelnut soup on page 32. But I’ve done quite a few soups lately so I moved on to page 132, where there’s a nice recipe for a garnish.
Ingredients and method
Take very fresh parsley and divide into sprigs. If it is necessary to wash it, dry it very well in a soft cloth. Have a pan of deep oil (I use a mixture of nut oil and sunflower-seed oil) heated to approximately 325°F. It must not be too hot or the parsley will shrivel up and burn. Drop in the sprigs, a few at a time, and cook for 2–3 minutes, turning over with a slotted spoon. Drain well before serving.
They should be bright emerald green and very crisp, slightly like fried seaweed one gets in Chinese restaurants. This was a very popular garnish for fried fillets of sole in England in the 1920s; nowadays it is rarely seen which is sad as it is both elegant, delicious and highly nutritious. It is good served with all dishes of fried vegetables, fritters, etc, but nothing with a sauce.
How it played out
The recipe didn’t specify, so I made this with Italian flat leaf and curly leaf parsleys. My pan of oils (vegetable and sunflower) sat on the wood stove, so the temperature fluctuated from 320° to 345°F, but that didn’t seem to affect the cooking process.
There was still a bit of moisture on my curly leaf parsley, so tossing it in the hot oil made for an impressive display of bubbles. As a result, this recipe was a lot of fun to make. Tsss, hiss, bubble! Tsss, hiss, bubble! Tsss, hiss, bubble!
This makes a delicious, crispy and stylish garnish—especially when done with curly leaf parsley—that is nigh on impossible to photograph. My little pic here shows the parsley gracing prawn paté toasts—another page-32 recipe. As an aside, I’ve saved the oil to re-use the next time. It can’t be too tainted.