Peter Gordon is one of those chefs you feel probably
doesn't often cook in his restaurants in Auckland and London
because he is so busy travelling and cooking at festivals, not
to mention his prolific writing for periodicals as well as
His latest cookbook, Peter Gordon Everyday
(HarperCollins) is full of mostly simple recipes, some even
homely, such as baked beans in meat loaf and Mum's
slow-cooked shoulder of mutton. Others reflect his global
palate, a version of the Greek cucumber yoghurt salad using
coconut milk instead of yoghurt and dill instead of mint, or
the use of miso in several otherwise Western-inspired dishes.
There are exotic combinations like carrot salad with
rosewater, typical of Morocco, but I get the impression his
signature yoking together of fusion flavours has mellowed
over the years.
There are some very simple pasta dishes, some more
complicated dinner-party recipes such as avocado mousse,
tomato jelly and prawns, but I loved some of his simpler
vegetable dishes, like roast cauliflower with olives and sage
leaves, and his combination of broccoli, cauliflower,
courgettes, raisins, pinenuts, radishes with pomegranate
molasses and mint.
The index, unfortunately, is not particularly helpful - I
could not find either of the above two recipes under
"cauliflower" - which limits the book's usefulness when you
are looking for inspiration for particular ingredients.
Annabel Langbein is big at the moment: her television
series and cookbooks are hugely popular in many countries.
While international fame might be relatively recent, her food
philosophy over many years of food writing has always been to
help busy people cook, and share, good, simple food made with
fresh ingredients and without too much fuss.
Her new book, published to coincide with her new television
series, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook: Simple
Pleasures (Annabel Langbein), continues with this theme
and, like her two previous books, Free Range Cook and
Free Range in the City, is lavishly illustrated with
photographs of her in her garden at Wanaka and elsewhere in
the South, enjoying food and wine with friends, and, of
course, of seductive food.
Her food is fresh, modern and stylish, and covers the gamut
from breads to cakes, from soups to preserves and, of course,
lots of vegetables and salads. Chicken salad with nutty
orange dressing, Mexican pulled pork, silverbeet gratin and
ginger biscotti are some I plan to try.
Besides recipes and lovely photographs, there's lots of help
in the book - menu suggestions and even some QR codes that
link directly to videos on her website, www.annabel-langbein.com. It's
a feel-good cookbook, with an underlying message about not
losing sight of where our food comes from in an
industrialised world. It's an enticement back to the land for
city-dwellers with holiday houses in the country - like
Langbein herself, who lives in Auckland where she also has a
large vegetable garden - or those who wish they had. But
nonetheless, she has a worthwhile message and great recipes.
Her many fans won't be disappointed.
Another domestic goddess with an international following,
British cook Nigella Lawson, has a new book out,
Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration
Although she had planned to write a book of authentic Italian
recipes, she says in the introduction, she realised the dream
of a glorified peasant past with mamma and nonna cooking and
the family eating together around a kitchen table was an
illusion - peasants often didn't have kitchens let alone
tables, and sometimes not even food! The recipes in this book
are inspired by Italian ways of cooking and the realisation
that culinary traditions change with new ingredients and
influences. After all, tomatoes were only introduced to Italy
from the Americas in the 16th century.
There are lots of pasta recipes, some simple, homely ones
like white beans with rosemary, or golden lentils with leek,
lots of vegetable and meat dishes, a plethora of rich
desserts and a whole section entitled "An Italian inspired
Christmas" which includes nibbles such as crostini, savoury
baking and dips, pork belly with chilli and fennel seeds,
stuffed turkey, a wonderfully red "Renaissance salad" with
different types of radicchio and pomegranate seeds, and
baking - but no panforte. Perhaps that's already in one of
her other books. Her fans will want this lavishly illustrated
book. I'm not sure I like the shiny paper it's printed on or
the capitalised ingredient lists, but her recipes and
comments are always enticing.