Thursday, February 08, 2007
My parents gave me book vouchers for Christmas and what better thing to spend them on but cookbooks.
Sometimes I buy recipe books just because I am in love with the writer; Ruth Pretty is one such chef and she is one of my culinary idols. Her food is interesting yet uncomplicated and she is a very warm and down-to-earth person. Ruth has generously posted many of her recipes on her website and it's worth a look. I especially recommend her recipe for Tomato Chilli Jam particularly as now is a good time to buy some well flavoured summer tomatoes. Ruth serves her Tomato Chilli Jam with plain rice crackers and philly cream cheese with a little fresh coriander garnish. YUM
Apart from writing books, running a hugely successful catering company and a cooking school, Ruth has a column in The Dominion Post on a Saturday and she also writes for Cuisine magazine. Ruth was inducted into the Restaurant Association of New Zealand Hall of Fame in 2005. She has three other cookbooks and yes, of course I own them all. My particular favourite is Cooking at Springfield which provides a lovely glimpse into Ruth's life at Springfield. There are lots of photographs of her home and garden including several of Ruth's pets. I have a fond memory of Ruth's little pug dog sneaking into class one lunch time whereupon I coaxed her under the table with a wee morsel of fillet steak and duck liver pate which I wasn't particularly enjoying. It's OK - we didn't get caught!
I have had the privilege of attending three cooking classes at her school and would love to do more but they are so popular that spaces are snapped up within days of the class schedule being published. I see that the summer class list is out now but I have an overseas trip coming later next month so I'd rather have spending money this time round. Several of the recipes in Ruth's new book are from a Christmas class I did a while back (chicken & pistachio pies, rosemary & fennel seed roast leg of pork with apple shallot sauce, pancetta and venison sausage stuffing and marmalade baklava with orange syrup) and it's nice to have them all in one place. Those loose pieces of paper are so hard to keep track of when you're filing system is like mine - nonexistent!
Taste magazine brought out a cookbook just in time for the Christmas market. It is a collection of 70 popular recipes from their issues to date. I flicked through the book in the store and noted that it fulfilled one of my main cookbook criteria - coloured photographs and lots of them. A cookbook without pictures just wrong. There are several recipes that I have already tried (drunken pork chops, lemon curd and lamb & cashew curry) as well as many recipes that I had flagged in my magazines for my ever expanding "to make" list (louise cake made with fresh raspberries; and curry puff pies to name but two) so there was no doubt that this book was a must have.