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Listening to your food…

Rory has been encouraging us to listen to our food. For instance, when making buttered courgettes (zucchini) with marjoram, we are to take the courgettes off the heat when they are slightly undercooked, “nearly there”. It’s not by sight totally, but by sound. When the noise changes in the pan, that’s when you take them off.


( a little butter, marjoram, salt and pepper later …)


Similarly, for glazed carrots…you can add just a little water to a pan of a bit of butter, salt, sugar, and a lot of sliced carrots and listen for a change in sound — for when the water becomes steam. The trick is to keep the quantity of water very small, so you don’t cover the carrots in water. You should end up with the water disappearing, but the carrots left in a shiny, syrupy glaze. Rory says when you make sure to limit the amount of water you add in the pan in the first place, “the difference in flavor is astonishing” .


While we are on the subject of butter and vegetables, here’s another photo. The oval dish on the left in between the two fish gratins is buttered cucumber with fennel. (There’s also some steamed potatoes and some rounds of herbed butter.)


I suppose many people don’t think of cooking cucumber, but we grew up eating it cooked with spices. This Ballymaloe recipe is different — it just involves melting the butter, tossing the cucumber and seasoning with salt and pepper, then adding either snipped fresh fennel or fresh dill.

2 Responses to “Listening to your food…”

  1. doug says:

    Very helpful post, Rose, re: using minimal water to cook carrots. Is it a big deal to estimate just a little water at the beginning and add more as you go if you need it?

  2. admin says:


    Here’s the recipe for the glazed carrots. It’s from the book, Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School Course. I don’t recommend estimating and adding the water because the evaporation of the water is the key to knowing the carrots are done.

    Glazed Carrots
    Serves 4-6

    one pound carrots
    1/2 oz butter
    4 fluid ounces cold water (125 ml)
    pinch of salt
    good pinch of sugar

    Cut the carrots into 1/2 inch slices, either straight or at an angle. Put them in a saucepan with butter, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over gentle heat until tender, by which time the liquid should be absorbed into the carrots. If not, remove the lid and increase the heat until all the water has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning.

    Shake the saucepan so the carrots become coated with a buttery glaze. Serve sprinkled with parsley or mint.

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