New Year – New Books

Two cookery books have landed on my doorstep since new year.

  • Honestly Healthy Cleanse – by Natasha Corrett
  • River Cottage – Nice and Easy – by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

as well as the prospect of receiving Ella Woodwards – Deliciously Ella at the end of the month.

These books have similar goals – they just approach them differently. They all want you to cut down on acid forming foods that make you bloated – and there’s a general feeling that if you cook from the books and exercise a bit then you’ll probably lose some weight along the way.

Natasha Corrett continues on from her other two Honestly Healthy books with what is essentially New Year detoxes. The book is beautiful. There’s lots of ‘science’ at the beginning of the book and the recipes look amazing. Natasha’s book will probably not be for everyone as she uses ingredients you simply can’t pick up in your local supermarket. Ocado have recently started adding many of these specialist ingredients – but you just aren’t going to find Tamari or Spirulina powder in a Morrisons.

With the purchase of her previous two books I remember spending an absolute fortune on things I’d never heard of on sites such as souschef.co.uk and amazon grocery. I shortlisted 20 dishes from this book (which I’ll make once I get paid!) but I’ll have to wait until I can afford to make them. There’s a definite sense that you need to plan a weeks worth of Honestly Healthy dishes just so you don’t end up having loads of expensive ingredients sat in your cupboards. Granted I made a lot of recipes from the previous two books and I’ll probably do the same this time too – but this book might just end up sat on a lot of people’s shelves.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book on the other hand takes ingredients that you’ll find absolutely anywhere and turns them into something special and healthy. He focuses very much on cutting out wheat and dairy – and there is a definite focus of vegetarian food – continuing on from his previous book ‘Veg’. He doesn’t bang on about cutting out meat and fish – he just uses them a lot less than he used to. Granted he encourages you to use the best tomatoes, carrots etc, but he pitches his wares to the everyday cook and I think most people buying this book will make at least half a dozen of the dishes. I’ve shortlisted over 30 already and I know they will all get made.

I don’t know what’s in store with Ella’s book yet – as it hasn’t been released – but from what is hinted at in the Daily Mail’s weekend supplement this week, the recipes will also be pitched at the everyday cook. I’m looking forward to this book as the previewed recipes are very low in fat – so I’ll be interested to see how this affects the taste. In my experience you do sacrifice taste when you take out the fat. The Quick Chilli I made on Monday was testament to this. It was nice – it just didn’t pack the punch of some other chillis I’ve made.

The next two weeks should see me posting some of Hugh’s dishes. Already shortlisted are:

  • Sweet Potato Rosti
  • Chickpeas Salas with Avocado Mayo
  • Quinoa and Gooseberry Tabbouleh
  • Beetroot Burgers
  • Puy Lentils with Brussels Sprouts
  • Baked Onions with Savoury Porridge
  • Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto with Cannelini Beans and Kos Lettuce
  • and many others

Watch this space.

Denis Cotter – For the Love of Food

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I wasn’t really successful getting through all the recipes of ‘The Modern Vegetarian’ – mainly due to some very long days at the boat, and lots of packing distractions for Freya’s parents. I was also a bit of a muppet and got excessively enthusiastic about packing – and packed all the food in the larder into a box and took it to the boat – rendering a lot of the recipes impossible to make!

That said, I’ve made most of the stuff I said I would – I just haven’t blogged it yet! I will – soon – promise!

So this weeks book I’ve decided not to find myself 10 recipes but limit myself to say six! If I get them all done I’ll pick some more.

The book is Denis Cotter’s ‘For the Love of Food’. This is a totally vegetarian cookbook. The Guardian say he’s ‘the best vegetarian chef in the British Isles’. Fair praise!

I love this book. I’ve cooked from it before and lots of the recipes are nice and simple. Many of them are very similar – especially the salads – but the slight differences between them make them very unique.

There are some challenging recipes in this book – I just haven’t chosen any of them for the coming week. I’ve got way too much stuff to do. And it’s Fathers Day on Sunday – where I’ll be out most of the day at Paradise Park in Hertfordshire with my six year old daughter.

For the coming week I am making:

  • spiced sweet potato pancakes
  • spiced halloumi on a warm puy lentil, spinach and beetroot salad
  • couscous salad with fresh apricots, broccoli, feta and a minted tomato dressing
  • sugar snaps with garlic, cherry tomatoes, shallots and basil
  • salad of roasted courgette, green beans and puy lentils with coriander mint and yoghurt dressing
  • salad of leeks, hazelnuts, fennel and watercress with a blackcurrant balsamic dressing
  • celeriac soup with walnut and green pepper salsa and goats cheese cream

Don’t they all just roll off the tongue. Denis doesn’t come up with pretty names for his dishes – he just tells you what’s in the dish!

This was one of the books that really inspired me to get into cooking again. Check it out – I think you’ll find the same.

 

Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi

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When I first conceived of the idea of stripping, despining, scanning and tossing all my cookery books, the first book I stripped was this one. It just happened to be on the top of a pile of books that didn’t quite find their way onto the bookshelf due to lack of space.

Heartbreaking as it is to cut up books with a craft knife (and a little dangerous I might add) there really isn’t an optimum way of laying out a book and photographing the pages. You’ll always get shadows, and then of course you’ve got to OCR the pages to recognise the words. It’s a pain.

When I scan the pages into my Mac, I use ReadIris Pro to recognise the pages and format them to PDF. They are then searchable, making it easy to find recipes based on ingredients. Genius or what !

Anyway back to the book.

I couldn’t have chosen a better book to start with. I don’t think there are many recipes in this book that you’d leave out. First time round (before Christmas) I made maybe 15 recipes from this book. I just wasn’t blogging then. This time round I have chosen 10+ dishes that are different from last time. Hopefully I have photographs from the lap of the book; if I do I’ll share them with you.

For those of you that have not heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, he is the master of all things Middle Eastern. He has has a couple of TV series and has featured on Australian Masterchef, The Taste, and often writes in the Guardian. He’s not a vegetarian but his recipes clearly reflect his preferences towards eating less meat and more vegetables and pulses.

He uses lots of traditional Middle Eastern ingredients like dried limes, freekeh, sumac, za’atar, moghrabieh and pomegranate molasses. The ingredients aren’t always readily available from supermarkets but I didn’t have to look too hard to find most of them online. I was also lucky enough to get an Ottolenghi cook box for Christmas from Freya’s mum with lots of ingredients in it. Which kind of made it easier.

Nothing in this book takes long to make, and he always precedes each recipe with a tiny tidbit about how the recipe came into his hands and why he likes it. It’s a very special book – it was a shame to cut it up.

This week – I’ll try and make:

  • Dates and Turkish Ewes Cheese
  • Figs with Basil, Goats Curd and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
  • Freekeh Pilaf
  • Barley and Pomegranate Salad
  • Avocado, Quinoa and Broad Bean Salad
  • Asparagus, Fennel and Beetroot with Verjus
  • Green Pancakes with Lime Butter
  • Garlic Soup with Harissa
  • Black Pepper Tofu
  • Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Creme Fraiche
  • Spicy Moroccan Salad
  • Sweet Potato Cakes
  • Brocollini and Sweet Sesame Salad
  • Brussel Sprouts and Tofu

I hope they are as good as they look!