New Zealand cook Judith Cullen used to run her own café in Dunedin before she changed careers to become a successful teacher of cookery classes, many of which are run from her home. Judith Cullen’s Cookery Classes is her first published book but she has a fresh and simple approach that many more seasoned cookbook writers would envy.
Staying with the format of her cookery classes, Cullen has opted to divide the book into monthly menus with a seasonal slant – picnic ideas for January, mid-winter slow cooking in July. An introduction to each chapter gives some background on her choices as well as plenty of useful tips and ideas. One thing that I loved about the book was the way in which Cullen made the most of seasonal fruits with her emphasis on relishes and sauces.
This is fusion cookery without fuss. Cullen uses an eclectic but judicious mixture of foods and flavours, with influences ranging from Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African, introducing and demystifying unfamiliar ingredients, from pomegranate molasses to tamarind and sumac.
The one fault that I found with the book is the fact that no recipe states how many people it serves. Although on further investigation I found a line in the introduction saying that most of the recipes feed four to six people, I shouldn’t have to go searching for it. Nor does this better inform me of the number of biscuits/cakes that I will get from the recipes for Blue Cheese Biscuits or Ricotta Cakes.
That aside, Judith Cullen’s Cookery Classes is a beautifully written and photographed introduction to modern New Zealand cooking.
Judith Cullen’s Cookery Classes is published by Longacre Press