The Essential Digby Law – Over 700 Great New Zealand Recipes by Digby Law
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was in full Domestic Goddess mode during Lockdown. While this mostly took the form of manic cleaning, I also made cheeses & did some preserving. Both preserving recipes I got from the internet, & while the sauerkraut was a success, the Spicy Pear & Feijoa Chutney was met with a tepid;
“Very nice, but it’s just not like Digby’s!!”
Yes, it isn’t a Digby but it is still very nice chutney, if a little sweet.
Digby Law was a New Zealand cookbook writer and food columnist. Shy and retiring in nature, very little is known about him other than his love of good food in general, and New Zealand produce in particular.
When his cookbooks went out of print they became very collectable in New Zealand. I made the mistake of loaning Digby’s Digby Law’s Pickle and Chutney Cookbook to a sister-in-law notorious for not returning books loaned to her. She denied ever having been loaned it – of course- and graciously accepts compliments for her version of Digby’s Tomato Oil Pickle with no sense of shame. And I couldn’t get another copy of the book at the time!
Many years later a good friend of Digby’s, Jill Brewis, produced this charmingly illustrated volume. I bought it as soon as I could afford it, but Jill’s idea of essential Digby recipes was different from mine. The Tomato Oil Pickle was missing, as were his best two Lemon Chutneys (Lemon & Raisin and Lemon & Fig) Some Digby’s individual books have fortunately been republished. I bought a Pickle & Chutney Cookbook- and paid retail! I managed to pick up a copy of his Dessert Cookbook from the Op Shop I used to volunteer at. Most of his dessert recipes are a bit too heavy & full of calories for me though. The 70s & 80s are when Kiwis really went all out to support our dairy products. (Jill suggests using the low fat versions of the various dairy products in her introduction to this volume – I might try that!) I look for his Entree Cookbook (not yet on Goodreads) every time I’m in a second hand book shop.
But I have just made Digby’s French Onion Soup. Now there is some serious Seventies retro! It was to die for! And we had his French Fried Onion Rings last night. I substituted panko for regular bread crumbs – I think Digby would have approved. They were light, they were crispy. Next time (& there will be a next time) I will serve them as a starter. This recipe book contains recipes for foods like Hummus that just wouldn’t have been widely known at then. Digby was truly ahead of his time.
I recommend trying to source Digby’s original volumes, but if you can’t get them or have limited shelf space this book is indispensable!
8/7/20 Edited the review for clarity.