With a subtitle that says, “Big-time home cooking for family and friends” you can’t say that you haven’t been warned. Tom Douglas, with his wife Jackie Cross, is the owner of several restaurants in Seattle one of which, Etta’s Seafood, I’ve heard about for years from a friend that worked there some time ago. As is evident from the cover photograph, he’s a big man with a big appetite – the kind of chef that, in short, you’d trust to cook you dinner or to tell you how to cook your own dinner. Don’t go looking for any nouvelle cuisine in this book ‘cos you ain’t gonna find it. What you will find, however, are plenty of recipes that will make you want to march right into that kitchen of yours and start cooking for crowds.
Category: Cookery Books
Before I started reading/reviewing these books, Anne Willan was unfamiliar to me but, as soon as they arrived, her name started to crop up in my reading with increasing regularity. An American by way of Yorkshire, Willan established La Varenne, the prestigious Burgundy-based French cooking school, in 1975. For those who haven’t the time or money to study with her, she has also written an impressive number of cookbooks, ranging from Dorling Kindersley’s Perfect series (Perfect Chicken Dishes, Perfect Chocolate Deserts, Perfect Appetizers etc), last year’s useful A Cook’s Book of Quick Fixes to the more personal in From My Chateau Kitchen.
My first introduction to Ursula Ferrigno was through a book called Bread (published by Dorling Kindersley) that she co-wrote with Eric Treuille, the owner of London shop/haven Books For Cooks. It’s an eminently useful publication with, as is the Dorling Kindersley way, plenty, almost too many, illustrations. This became a much-used publication in my kitchen – especially when the Boyfriend appointed himself official bagel-maker! – and so it was with great interest I turned to Ferrigno’s latest book, Trattoria: Food for Family and Friends.
Although already the author of two well-received memoirs – Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour – as well as a couple of not so popular detective novels, it has taken American chef Anthony Bourdain a little while to embark on his own cookbook and he throws himself into the undertaking with commendable vigour.
Derry woman and Sunday Telegraph food writer Diana Henry has again come up trumps with her latest book, Roast Figs, Sugar Snow. Her first cookbook, Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, focused on the tastes and enchantments of the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa. With praise from Claudia Roden and its appearance twice on the Glenfiddich award shortlist, it became an instant classic.
British organic and Fair Trade food chain Fresh and Wild teamed up with organic expert Ysanne Spevack, editor of online organic food magazine organicfood.co.uk, to produce this cookbook. It’s both worthy and worthwhile, but sometimes Spevack’s party political broadcasts on behalf of Fresh and Wild do get a little tiresome, especially when there’s only a limited amount of the shops to go around.
New Zealand cafés do fantastic salads and whenever my tastebuds need a kick and I’m looking for an unusual salad recipe, I turn to former café owner (now cookbook writer) Julie Le Clerc or one of Mark McDonough’s Zarbo books. Zarbo is the name of a popular Auckland-based delicatessen, fresh food store and café but its name is familiar throughout New Zealand from being emblazoned on its own range of dressings, marinades, rubs and chutneys. The shop also stocks an exceptional range of imported food products, meaning – if you’re in Auckand, of course – that you’ll never be stuck for any of the ingredients mentioned in Zarbo Zest.
To my sorrow I must admit that I have only once eaten in Denis Cotter’s award-winning Café Paradiso restaurant in Cork. But that one time, nearly ten years ago now, was mostly memorable for my first taste of polenta. My sociologist student friend felt it was deeply ironic that I should be writing my thesis on the Irish Famine at the time and eating what was known in 1840s Ireland as “Peel’s Brimstone” – the Indian meal imported by British Prime Minister Robert Peel to help the starving Irish. All irony aside, that day I fell in love with Denis Cotter’s cooking and a return trip is long on the cards.