Posts Tagged ‘seasonality’

Mark Hix, British Seasonal Food. I couldn’t have received this book at a better time. Just as I was really starting to think that winter was never going to end and February’s lull of fresh and exciting home-grown vegetables would zap me of all remaining inspiration, I could at last look ahead to March with a gentle reminder of the joys to come with the start of spring. 

I felt the excitement bubbling inside of me knowing that soon purple sprouting broccoli would give rise to spring lamb, which would lead on to asparagus, broad beans, peas and then a plentiful bounty of summer produce, before we could harvest soft fruits and tuck into autumn colours and flavours. I almost felt ready to be able to look forward to next winter too, only this year armed with a month by month handbook to keep me sane. 

Hix shows us that with a dose of creativity, a bit of forethought, not too much planning, a hunt around the hedgerows or seashores and a good source of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables you can really make the most of the great British seasons. Some may see it as a romantic ideal but why not look on it as a challenge? If we open our minds, there’s no reason why we can’t achieve at least some of the food lifestyle changes he suggests. 

British Seasonal Food is about going back to our roots. It holds an abundance of useful information about ingredients, tips on working and shopping with the seasons, not to mention heaps of encouragement. Hix’s passion for British produce is addictive and really shines through in the recipes. Classics, such as faggots, are brought up-to-date, quick and simple meals like cabbage and bacon soup, are combined with the more elaborate, there are inventive demonstrations of under-used cuts of meat and fish (fish collar curry or cod’s tongues perhaps?) and every dish shows off produce at its best. All this will ensure I pull his book off the shelf at least once a month ahead of any other!


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Beautiful, dreamy, elegant, exquisite, summery – altogether aesthetically pleasing. Fitting descriptions of Skye Gyngell’s latest book, How I Cook.

Where her previous two books have focussed on the food from her kitchen at Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond, this book, as the title suggests, is all about the food she wants to cook and eat at home; on her own, with her family or with friends. In tune with this are the ingredients for the recipes, which many home cooks will already have in the cupboard or could easily get hold of. She doesn’t stray, however, from the stress she has always placed on eating with the seasons.

Simplicity is the key to the recipes in How I Cook. Skye wants us to be able to enjoy stress-free cooking without comprising on the food, which should both look and taste stunning; whether feeding the troops in the evening, having a relaxed family meal at the weekend or entertaining.

The book has quite a unique structure. It is broken down into sections such as breakfast, Sunday lunch, midweek dinners, late-night suppers and celebration food and within each section there are several themed menu suggestions – Mediterranean flavours, retro dinner, prepare ahead, elegant and easy, midweek special or birthday celebration. The menu suggestions are just that – suggestions. Skye is clear to state that there are no hard and fast rules – the menus are dishes which she feels complement each other and will no doubt help a less confident cook understand how to pull together a balanced meal (in terms of flavours, accompaniments and courses).

Throughout the book there are helpful cookery tips, tricks, skills and advice. The introductions to the recipes provide an interesting backdrop to the menus; Skye shares a childhood memory, a family story or some food history which are all great insights into her life, work and food philosophies.

The book has an awful lot going for it and is quite simply a joy to read. I like a book that gets me drooling, that sends my brain into overdrive conjuring up my next week of meals, or simply expands my culinary horizons. It doesn’t do these things for me, but it is most definitely heart-warming.

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