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Foggy Dale Jam Sessions

Foggydale Farm Jam Sessions by Linda Hallinan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I’m going to be a bit soft with my rating for this book because…

✔ New Zealand Author

✔ Borrowed from the library so I didn’t pay for the book.

✔ The two recipes I have made so far (Blackberry Jam and Tomatillo Salsa) have been really good. I am still licking my lips after sampling the salsa.

Photo source – me!

I probably should have added more coriander (cilantro)* for a greener colour, but the taste is delicious.

As good as the Blackberry Jam is , it only had four ingredients and I could have got the recipe from anywhere. I really think, in spite of all the hassles picking the berries, Blackberry may be my favourite jam.

It is just that this book is trying to be too many things. Coffee table (and the black cover hasn’t worn well) gardening tips, pretty but largely irrelevant photos (Jamie Oliver has a lot to answer for!) chat about Hallinan’s family life. The gardening tips are ok, but for the rest I like my cookbooks to be cookbooks – i.e. they need to work for their place in my home!

But in winter I will probably borrow again to make the Peach (I’m going to be lazy and make the tinned version) or Cape Gooseberry Jams. I run a small Airbnb and am constantly on the lookout for new recipes.

* We will have a falling out if you try to tell me I should be calling the leaves cilantro – in New Zealand the whole plant is called coriander.

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Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine

by Monique Fiso

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Winner of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction (2021)

& this is indeed a beautiful book, but like another restaurant book I reviewed a few years ago, Saison A Year at the French Café by Simon Wright for the most part the recipes are made to be looked at and admired – a coffee table book rather than a practical cookbook. I’m just not going to go to the trouble of making my own pine oil for example. I do admire Ms Fiso’s determination to make the unusable usable (for example, Red Matipo.)

The illustrations make me feel confident that I could use them to forage some food. (I became an enthusiastic forager during the first Lockdown, but wasn’t confident enough to try native plants) The illustrations are beautifully shot and clear.

As an example, here is a picture of Puha;

Puha

This is the plant most often used in people’s daily cooking. It is supposed to be quite bitter, but Ms Fiso has some recommendations to combat this. I will wait for Spring to try this.

As you can see the pictures are beautiful, but the labelling is with the book text, rather than the picture itself. Stylistically, this is more pleasing but makes the book harder to use for a casual browse, as sometimes the text is distant from the photo.

The only recipe I found that I could/wanted to make was a desert Kumara Roroi. Hopefully I can get hold of coconut sugar.

I do have one question – why did Māori men in historical times urinate on their nets or traps? Belief that it brought good luck maybe.

I do recommend this book, but would borrow from a library rather than purchasing.

Edit: & the Kumara Roroi was indeed beautiful & the whole house smelled of cinnamon & nutmeg. (I’m assuming the kumara itself provided the sweetness in pre-European times. Will definitely make this again.

A Vegetable Cookbook

by Digby Law

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Very little is known about the shy and reclusive Kiwi cook, the late Digby Law, other than he died in 1987 & he loved vegetables. Digby used to spend a lot of his free time working on his father’s vegetable garden – & then cooking or preserving the results!

So many vegetables in this COVID world have been so expensive – I have yet to find my favourite (asparagus) at a price I can afford. But what has been affordable is beetroot – one of my husband’s favourites. & the beetroot (beets to some of you) we have been buying has such a wonderfully earthy taste! I have used Digby’s [book:A Pickle and Chutney Cookbook|9381122] & preserved beetroot three different ways, but we have beetroot coming out of our ears still, so I was looking for ways to serve the beetroot as a vegetable. & any time I experience a vegetable glut, of course I turn to Digby!

I loved his Beetroot and Apple Salad – of course the beetroot bled all over the salad. So it looked – different. However, the caper garnish was a very nice touch! I’ve also made Harvard Beets & Sweet-Sour Beets- the Harvard Beets was the nicer of the two. Next might be Beetroot with Caraway Seeds. Love Caraway.

We have an avocado tree & I don’t usually have any trouble thinking of ways to eat the avos! But this book happened to fall open at the recipe for Avocado Stuffing for Roast Chicken. I just had to try this one.

However – disaster. The two avocados I hid from my husband

set aside for this were bad! I only had one other – very small- ripe avocado. Since I had paid an outrageous price for one tomato I still went ahead.

After stuffing the chicken cavity, I still had enough for what my Canadian mother used to call ‘Dressing.’

So pretty! After cooking in the oven it looked like this;

The chicken stuffing was very nice, but the cooked dressing was really delicious, served cold the next day! I will certainly make again when our own tomatoes are in season.

I’m looking longingly (still) at the asparagus recipes. I’d really like to recreate the soufflé.

Watch this space!

The Food Truck: Volume 2

by Michael Van de Elzen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I picked this book up at a garage sale.

I really loved this NZ TV show – so much so that I even ate at the Food Truck Restaurant (I believe it is still in business, but no longer owned by Michael) & the Food Truck

would be parked outside.

Michael is passionate about quality, healthy foods & both the TV show & the Food Truck were devoted to trying to create healthier versions of old favourites. This didn’t always work (the failure I remember was croissants) but more often then not they did. Michael’s
enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.

Researching Michael for this review, I found he had an absolutely horrible year in 2019, but has bounced back and is back where he belongs – everywhere you turn in Aotearoa (I even ran into him once at Nelson Airport!) He no longer wants the grind of a restaurant, so he runs a Cooking School at Muriwai, appears on various ads & is one of the hosts on the NZ version of Eat Well For Less. I swear his co-host Ganesh Raj could fix me with those beautiful eyes, tell me to drink a bottle of cod liver oil & I would! I’ve made quite a few recipes from the show (in my opinion the food on the NZ show is far better, but I prefer that the British show isn’t tied to a particular supermarket chain)

Soooo I think with Eat Well for Less Michael has learned something about Kiwi home cooks.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/eat-well-for-less-new-zealand/nz-recipes

I have already made three of these recipes with the Shaksuka being especially good!

I was initially a bit disappointed when I first skimmed through this book, as a lot of the recipes seemed too fiddly (how he created them in the food truck I’ll never know!) or had ingredients like tomatillos that when you can get them in my little town are
very expensive. Most surprising of all for me was the Thai Tea Bag – served in plastic bags. That may be the way they do it in Thailand but it is not exactly environmentally friendly!

I don’t think Michael would present the dish this way now! And this is one of the recipes I’m intending to try.

So far I have made the Curry Sauce. It was meant to be served with homemade bratwursts, but I cheated & I used store bought sausages. The sauce was so delicious that next time I will make the bratwursts – the chopped apples & kiwifruit gave the sauce a really nice tang.

& last night we had the Almond-Crusted Pork Schnitzel and this was to die for. Most of the recipes I like the sound of are near the end of the book.

This book is a keeper!

The Essential Digby Law – over 700 Great Recipes

The Essential Digby Law – Over 700 Great New Zealand Recipes by Digby Law

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


4.5★

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.

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Still Life With Menu Cookbook

Still Life with Menu Cookbook

Still Life with Menu Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

If I was judging by appearances only, this would be a 5★ book.

I love the idea, as each menu looks like an it is indeed an illustrated menu from a fancy restaurant.

Design, editing & above all Katzen’s pastel drawings – all impeccable.

And this book contains my favourite pasta sauce from weird ingredients – the wonderful Spaghetti Elliana. (Page 204 -I’m noting the page number because I always have trouble finding the recipe. It is listed under spaghetti but not under Elliana, Pasta or Sauces) Who would think the (optional) anchovies, nuts, garlic, parmesan & raisins would work so well together? Katzen fell off the vegetarian wagon for this recipe!

But other than the eccentric indexing system, I just don’t like cookbooks where the the recipes are grouped by menu – in particular if the indexing isn’t perfect. I may want to choose a different selection of dishes together & having to flick randomly through a recipe book isn’t my idea of fun and is why this book is in just about immaculate condition.

The other standout recipe is the yoghurt scones – my family was very grateful that I found this one, as my NZ scones always turned out like flat pieces of cardboard. I’ve just made the Sunonomo (Japanese Cucumber & Noodles Salad) I remembered it from 20 years year ago & it is still just as good.

I’m going to try some of the eggplant recipes as eggplant very cheap in NZ this year & I just love it.

This is a cookbook I would recommend borrowing rather than purchasing. It is good, but not quite good enough to justify the shelf space.

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