RECIPE / Escargots Anglais with a pinch of salt

IT IS almost unheard of in these pages to award a prize to a reader whose recipe has not been duly tested and passed muster. However, for our best-from-the-summer-garden series, Simon Daniels, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, this week wins a bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba Clerico Domenico 1989 for just such a recipe.

I have not tested it and cannot swear that, had I a garden, I would have. I certainly would not have cooked the essential ingredient for two hours. But here, with absolutely no guarantees, is Mr Daniels's approach to the common or garden snail.

'Collect them in the cool of the evening, especially after a rain, by torchlight,' he writes. 'Numbers fewer than 36 don't really repay the preparation time . . . Once you have collected your snails, starve them for a few days, but spray them with water to stop them drying out. Next, fatten them up for a few days on the lettuce that they would have eaten anyway, then - the cruel bit - chuck them in a container with some salt and, steeling yourself, rinse them thoroughly. Simmer your snails for around two hours in some vegetable stock, then hook them from their shells and take off the black stomach, which is at one end. Then bottle them up or use immediately . . . Consider the money you have saved on tinned escargots, and dwell upon your ecological soundness in not slaughtering the unfortunate gastropods with slug bait . . . PS: snails go very well with young Dolcetto.'

OUR second winner, Lydia Baker of Camberley, Surrey, submits her mother-in-law's recipe for Marrow Zanzibar. She describes it as particularly good with lamb or robust enough to make a meal in itself.

Marrow Zanzibar

Serves 2-4

Ingredients: 1 medium marrow

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1tbs tomato puree

2tbs vinegar

2tbs olive oil

3oz sultanas

good pinch ground cloves

1tsp sugar

1tsp celery salt

2tsp fresh thyme or 1tsp dried

2tsp salt

2 dried bay leaves

good pinch cayenne pepper

Preparation: Peel marrow, split, remove pips and cut into 1in cubes. Mix tomato puree, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, cloves, sugar, celery salt, thyme, salt and cayenne into a paste, then use it to line an ovenproof dish. Add marrow, onions and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and stir. Cover and cook in a moderate oven, 350F/180C/gas 4, for about one hour. Serve with rice.

Next week: the last of our summer garden series. New entries are sought for the following category: recipes gathered on holiday. Please send them, stating the source, to Emily Green, Recipe, Weekend Features, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. The prize: copies of Patricia Wells's Food Lover's Guide to France and Food Lover's Guide to Paris.

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