Tuesday 30 April 2013

Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook

This is a book I bought a couple of years ago, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein my edition was published by Mitchell Beazley 2011.
I had a look through it and ooh-ed and ahh-ed, but that was as far as I got for a while. Then a little while ago I picked it up again, and started cooking from it, and one recipe has followed another, and now I’ve cooked lots!
I like the ethos of this book and the food within it, good ingredients cooked simply, but well. Slow down a little and see some of the good bits of everyday life. There is a second companion volume to this one (Simple Pleasures 2012) but I’ll come back to it another day. Today though it is time for The Free Range Cook!
Annabel is a New Zealander, and the series which accompanies this book is set in the New Zealand countryside. It’s a country that I consider myself very lucky to have visited, and it’s left a definite print on my heart and soul. I can indulge that soft spot cooking from this book and watching the series. It makes me feel happy. I’m all for a spot of kitchen table travelling!
The book is illustrated with gentle and pretty pictures of totally do-able food and some beautiful scenery too. Pretty much all of the recipes are pictured. Chapters are: *From the Oven* From the Garden* From the Farm* From the Lake and Sea* From the Larder* and * From the Orchard*.
Now of course when I say one recipe has followed another that’s been because they are good! Here are the recipes I’ve tried so far. If you haven’t got this book I’d recommend it and if you have, well get cooking!! =)

Corn and Avocado Salad
Very simple blend of ingredients, but really good.

Sticky Date pudding with Wicked Toffee Sauce
A take on sticky toffee pudding, the sponge is flavoured with a touch of ginger and the pears on top, mmm mmm.

Honey Vanilla Panna Cotta with Sunshine Fruit Topping
I made this for a dark January Saturday night, with tinned peaches and fresh passion fruit. It was so right and injected us with a lovely burst of sunshine, even though it was cold and dark outside.
Spicy Chicken Skewers, Creamy Moroccan Cucumber Salad and Chermoula Dipping Sauce
This one starts with a Chermoula Marinade (garlic, ginger, cayenne, cumin, preserved lemon and fresh coriander). This is then split and used to marinade the chicken then also mixed with sour cream to make a dipping sauce. Some of the dipping sauce is then used to dress the cucumber and tomato Salad. Really different, we liked it.

Casbah Prawns
A couple of nights later I used the remaining dipping sauce from the chicken (which I’d set aside previously) was turned into a creamy prawn sauce to go over some rice.

Coconut Pavlova
A Pavlova flavoured with coconut and topped with a tropical fruit salad of pineapple, kiwi fruit and passion fruit. I made it as one big pav, instead of individual ones.

Chocolate Cherry Tiramisu
Chocolate cake, fresh cherries, berry syrup (with or without booze), creamy marscarpone and Cream. Need I say any more? Going to try this one with raspberries too in the Summer when local berries are in season.

Greek Yoghurt and Berry Syrup
The same syrup from the tiramisu, simple and delicious with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt.

Bella’s Pink Fizz
A third use for the berry syrup is in a lovely Pink fizz, Berries, berry syrup, cassis and a bottle of something alcoholic and fizzy. This is meant as a pre-dinner drink, and if it was your party is bound to go with a swing.

Lamb, Rosemary and Apple Sausage Rolls
My goodness these were good! Yum yum!!

Cypriot Shepherd’s Pie
Flavoured with ginger, cumin and cinnamon this Lamb pie is a bit different, and it’s topped with a fabulous parsnip and carrot mash.

Honey Lemon Cream Puddings
I made these for Valentines Day dessert. We loved this…and I got to use my pretty little cups that I found in an old shop recently. They begged me to take them home, so I paid up and they now live with me!

Sweet Chilli Jam
Home-made and with a lot of flavour notes that shop bought doesn’t have. Not that I have anything against shop bought, I now have both in my fridge.

Sweet Chilli Chicken
A great end for some of the home-made chilli sauce, but great too with shop bought sauce.

Beetroot and Feta Salad
Unusual, but yummy.

Braised Red Cabbage
My little one is not that unusual in that she won’t eat cabbage. Except… made like this! Well she might though, it a delicious way with cabbage, a little sweet, buttery and some currants too.

Steak and Double Mushroom Sauce, Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Garlic & Green Beans with Lemon
My Mum requested this for Mother’s Day, and the three recipes together made a fabulous treat of a main course. Each offsetting the other perfectly. Worth the effort.
So as you can see I have made a lot, and I’m not finished yet either there is an amazing looking cake called a strawberry cloud cake….soon when the berries are ripe.

Next Up: A Salad for All Seasons by Harry Eastwood

Monday 1 April 2013

Greedy Girl's Diet

I didn’t even know this one was coming out, but a friend gave me a pointer in the right direction – “Have you got it? It’s really good!” and so it arrived very soon afterwards, because let’s face it I’m a sucker for a cookbook, and if you are reading this blog chances are you are too! Anyhow it's The Greedy Girl’s Diet  Eat Yourself Slim with Gorgeous, Guilt Free Food by Nadia Sawalha published by Kyle Books 2012.

This is a cookbook aimed at girls aiming to lose a bit of weight, and as diet titles go it’s quite inspiring, doesn’t sound like we might have to live on five lettuce leaves and a couple of peas plus a lot of hunger in order to get a bit slimmer! I’m not encouraging myself to be greedy, but I do prefer to think I can feel like I’ve had enough to eat while slimming.

The recipes are all do-able and there is even a chapter with puddings! The pictures are fresh and bright and the text by Nadia is often amusing. Chapters are: *My Secret* Exercise* Come on, Break the Fast* Let’s do Lunch * Delicious Dinner * and Decadent Desserts. There are also different sections within some of the chapters. For example the Delicious Dinner chapter has three sub headings: Yummy Mummy, Dinner Party Goddess and Dinner for Two. All the recipes are calorie counted for you per serving and there are also grams of fat, saturates, sugar and salt per serving too.

Now the question to be asked is are the recipes any good? Answer is yes, the ones I have tried have all been good, and I’d make them all again. Especially the risotto, yum yum!! There are a number of puddings too, but I haven’t managed to get round to them yet.

Prawn and Chorizo Rice Pot
This was my first make from the book. A Good supper with some greenery of some sort.

Creamy Chicken Curry in a Hurry
This was really good too. There was a lot of sauce, and hubby said “If this was soup I’d be delighted.” “It’s soup!” I said, genius, no? =)

June Wake’s Wide Awake Seed Bar
This is a really clever recipe that holds together with mashed bananas, and you taste the bananas, but also all the other delightful add ins. Mmmm.

Chilli Con Carne
A good chilli, the avocado topping was a great addition.

Winey Chicken
This one was lovely, the sauce was light but flavourful.

Italian Soup
This was a good filling soup. It takes a little while to cook to develop the flavours.

Risotto with Seared Scallops
A fabulous treaty supper this one, scallops, bacon and risotto too! I forgot to stir through some spinach at the end, and added a drizzle of balsamic glaze, though that’s because I love it on risotto.

Next Up: A book I've been obsessing about for a couple of months - Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook