Notes from my Kitchen Table
I must tell you about a series of the most wonderful cookery books which have passed across my kitchen table recently. This will certainly make your Christmas gift choices easier.
The author of one of them was someone I had had a long-time dream to meet: Lyn Hall. Lyn was born in South Africa and grew up in Durban. She went to live in England some years ago and has become totally immersed in food, wonderful food people and teaching.
On meeting her I was taken in by her beauty and her trés chic style of dressing. And by this wealth of food knowledge and of the people in the food business internationally. She is an ardent promoter of LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and told me, "Everyone wants a countryside that thrives and is alive with wildlife, supports viable farming businesses and produces wholesome and affordable food." The whole approach of LEAF is one of Integrated Farm Management, which combines the best of traditional farming methods with modern farming technology, allowing farmers to manage their farms in an informed, professional and caring way. Sounds great and I heard an echo from so many of our farmers who are doing the same thing, taking care of the land, like Roelf and Michele du Preez of Bon Cap Winery, to hand it on to their children.
Lyn has produced a stunning book called Lyn Hall's Cookery Course. This is the book you give your daughter to teach her how to cook, your wife who is a great cook and an eager learner, your father/husband who all his life has wanted to cook and never has. It's filled with all the basic food information you will ever need and some of the most fabulous recipes. Many of them, like the roast Haunch of Roe Deer, we will never have the chance of using, but what about one off a springbok?
Modern food and old favourites abound. My salivary glands go into overtime as I just page through it again. Not for nothing does Michel Roux call Lyn one of the "best of all cookery teachers". She's a great lady too. Filled me in about so many of my favourite food stars with whom she has worked. A list of luminaries almost too long to mention.
Lyn Hall's Cookery Course, published by Conran Octopus, ISBN 1 84091 348 7.
Michele Cranston of marie claire has done it again with another of her fabulous, very Australian/Pacific Rim cookbooks - LUSCIOUS. Food - fresh, easy, great-tasting and healthy. And quick to prepare! In today's hurly-burly world one really needs food that can be prepared in half an hour at most. The book is lavishly illustrated and has a heap of basic recipes in the back which you can master and use for other dishes - or apply to your old favourites. Mouth-watering photos, lush food. Yum.
LUSCIOUS - simply delicious food, published by Murdoch Books, ISBN 1 74045 589 4.
With Summer upon us, Ice Cream! by Pippa Cuthbert and Lindsay Cameron Wilson will provide you with many cooling moments at the end of a meal and between meals as well. I particularly liked the section on "The chemistry of ice cream". Cooking is chemistry and to understand the basics of what makes an ice set or not is very important.
The authors go through important ingredients, equipment, handy hints and techniques and then some … 80-ish really fabulous recipes - how does lemon and buttermilk sherbet sound? And accompaniments too. Ice cream fans unite!
Ice Cream! is published by New Holland, ISBN 1 84537149 6.
At my table by Fay Lewis has to be one of the prettiest books written by a South African this year. More coffee table than kitchen table, I would want to photocopy the recipes rather than take the book into the kitchen and have it messed on. The pics are brilliant with lots of ideas for lots of occasions. And I love her food. Mentored by the late Sannie Smit, who was a legend in her life time, Fay takes you on several trips to different food occasions and tells you exactly how to put them together stylishly - with great flavour.
At my table by Fay Lewis is published by Struik, ISBN 1 86872-973-7.
Now this is a hot, hot book, The Accidental Foodie by Neale Whitaker, who has spent his life interviewing great food people - 23 in all in this book from opposite sides of the world. He has coaxed them into parting with their favourite recipes - there are 90 in the book. Darina Allen of Ballymaloe, Stephanie Alexander, Neil Perry of Rockpool, Jamie Oliver of … well, Jamie Oliver, Bill Granger, to mention but a few. The recipes, like their inventors, are about as eclectic as you can get. The photographs, by internationally acclaimed illustrator Petrina Tinslay, are sumptuous, touchable and tasteable.
Buy it, but don't give it away.
The accidental foodie, by Neale Whitaker, dedicated to his mother, is published by Murdoch Books, ISBN 1 74045 595 9.
There simply cannot be a cookery book collection in South Africa that does not contain something written by Phillippa Cheifitz. This is one of the coolest and most loved foodies in my life. Her style is unique, her food so basic and simple and unintimidating and packed with colour and flavour. In Seasons Phillippa highlights the perfect food to match the season of the year when cooking for friends by making use of the fresh foods of the season. Lovely shots by Jac de Villiers, who has illustrated some of her other works.
Seasons is published by Struik, ISBN 1 86872 975 3.
River Café Two Easy is yet another stunner from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers from their eponymous restaurant. Excellent Italian style food, again made in their easy way, with nothing to prevent the novice cook from producing the dishes in their kitchen. I can't admire these two ladies more - they have really done so well since opening their restaurant. What I like most about the dishes is that they are so simply and appropriately named: Pea, Zucchini is one; Rigatoni, Tomato beef, red wine another … So you know exactly what you are in for before you start.
The first chapter alone contains about 10 pages on Buffalo Mozzarella and how to use it. If you haven't eaten buffalo mozz, do try and lay your hands on some, it is a treat. In spite of the title that contains the word two (as it's a second book following River Café Cook Book Easy), the recipes serve 4 and cakes and tarts 8-10.
River Café Two Easy is published by Ebury Press, ISBN 0 091 90032 8.
There are such wonderful berries on the shelves of Pick 'n Pay and other stores now, I must end off with this recipe which Madeleine and I invented to use blueberries produced by our friends Raymond and Betty O'Grady of Hillcrest Berry Orchards in Stellenbosch (www.hillcrestberries.co.za), who have kindly given me a book as a giveaway to LitNet readers this month.
Method: Preset the oven at 120°C. Whisk the egg whites in an electric beater till they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, vinegar, the seeds from the vanilla pod and the corn flour and mix for a further minute. Spoon four large egg shapes on to nonstick baking paper and make a small "dam" in the top for the filling. Bake in the preset oven for about 40 minutes until the outside is crispy and the centre is still soft. Leave to cool. When cool these can be stored in an airtight container - but not for too long.
To serve: Place the crème fraiche and a spoonful of berries on top of each meringue, top with whipped cream and dust with icing sugar. If you like, you can surround the dessert with some fresh blueberry coulis.
Well, let me scrub down the old oak kitchen table. I'll keep my notebook and pencil handy so I'll have lots to talk about next time. Please visit my website www.noshnews.co.za - it's been upgraded. There's a mine of information there about books, wine, places to stay and good food.
Till next time, eat and drink well.
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