Why is it that recipe names look so much more evocative when written in French? Gâteau au chocolate et à l’abricot seems so much more sophisticated than just plain Chocolate apricot cake. Still, from the look of this slice of this moist dark cake pictured in Christelle Le Ru‘s Simply Irresistible French Desserts I don’t think that anyone will complain if you set it in front of them, no matter which name you use. But Carrés à la noix de pécan and Crèmes chaudes aux myrtilles (Pecan squares and Hot blueberry creams, respectively) certainly do have much more of a ring to them en Français and that’s a great deal to do with the charm of this Christchurch-based Frenchwoman’s self-published cookbook.
It’s not often that chefs can manage to simplify techniques so that they are both intelligible and useful to those of us who confine our cooking to the home kitchen but Auckland-based Genevieve McGough has managed it in Brilliant But Basic. In this slim publication she deals with a total of 19 different techniques, teaching formulas for useful cooking basics such as meringue, risotto, slow-cooked meats and cheesecake.
Just looking up Margaret Costa’s Four Seasons Cookery Book – a friend loaned it to me the other night and I was wondering how much it would cost to get my own copy! – and I came across this article by pedant in the kitchen, Julian Barnes. I thoroughly enjoyed his debate about and efforts to cull his collection. His “certain words of advice, all of it paid for in money” are worth taking a look at, especially number 5 – “Never buy a juice book if you haven’t a juicer” – apropos of the book that caused the whole conundrum, Nigel Slater‘s Juice. Juice is the one Slater book that I haven’t purchased but, by coincidence, I got it out of the library yesterday. And no, I don’t have a juicer either.
Penny Oliver, the New Zealand author of Beach, Bach, Boat, Barbeque, has returned to outdoor pursuits for her latest book At Home, At Play. With fabulous photographs of rivers, cooking over outdoor fires, mountains, camping with frost on tents, kayaking and heavy snowfalls, she intersperses her recipes – divided into chapters called Eat Up, Chill Out, Warm Up and Time Out – with views of New Zealand.
I’ve been taking full advantage of the Christchurch City Library and their ever-fabulous selection of cookbooks, a pile of which are currently sitting by the bed. I’ve always been an avid reader of cookbooks – in Ireland the Boyfriend accused me of spending more time reading them than cooking from them! – but now it sometimes gets a little out of hand.
Due to the vagaries of the post between Ireland and New Zealand, my reading of the Observer Food Monthly is always a few weeks behind. Seeing as we’re never in season with the produce it doesn’t really matter and it’s always a red letter day when the most recent edition arrives, along with recipes and restaurant reviews torn from Irish publications – thanks again Mum!
Just taking a look at the World Food Media awards website and some of my favourite food writers appear on their list of nominees.No Nigel Slater, alas, but Stephanie Alexander, Dean Brettschneider and Lauraine Jacobs, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Cuisine magazine are among those nominated for the biennial awards which, apparently, are known as the food and drink industry’s equivalent to the Oscars.
Ooh! I’ve just been on the Observer Magazine website – a great treat to browse though when you’re sitting by the computer with a cup of coffee when you don’t have the real OM to hand on a Sunday – and I discovered that they’re running a series of extracts from Nigel Slater’s new cookery book, The Kitchen Diaries.