Book Club: Christmas Picks
This month Caro’s put together a few of her fave new books for your Christmas pleasure…
She’s looked at Get Fresh with Al Brown, Taste From Central Otago by Pete Gawron (he owns Saffron, the amazing Arrowtown restaurant), Selling the Dream, a fascinating look at The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism and Lynda Hallinan’s Back to the Land.
Back to the Land, a Year of Country Gardening By Lynda Hallinan
Summertime is just around the corner, and what better time than to exercise our green fingers and get into the garden. If you’re looking for some fabulous inspiration, or know someone else who does, this book is a great option. In it gardener extraordinaire, television presenter and editor, Lynda Hallinan, opens up her diary from June 2011 to May this year, to give us her inside tips on how she created her marvelous garden in Hunua, rural Auckland.
In 2007, Lynda ambitiously lived self-sufficiently off her city garden based in central Auckland. But then she got married and gave birth to her baby boy Lucas. She ditched her bachelorette pad, moved to the country, bought a 17-hectare section and started her garden all over again.
In her book, Lynda gives witty, down-earth-advice on how to live self-sufficiently as she produces crops on her land at a grand scale. But don’t worry if you don’t have 17 hectares spare, I found that even for my relatively small garden there was loads of great tips, not to mention wonderful recipes for jams, pickles and some old Kiwi favourites including scones and scotch eggs.
You can buy it here.
Selling the Dream, The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism
Hey Gorgeous, You Can Get A 10% Discount On This One (read on!)
This exquisite book sits pride of place on our coffee table at home, and everyone who’s been to visit is immediately drawn to its gorgeous content.
Before computers and graphic designers existed, there was a group of extremely talented artists whose job it was to promote our beautiful country, and boy did they do a great job.
Until the 1960s, these images were featured in tourism and travel bureaus overseas, but there were also those created to draw locals to other New Zealand destinations.
The 408-page book is a must have for anyone who appreciates art history, great design, and has a genuine love for retro images.
Even renowned New Zealand artist Dick Frizzell is in awe of the work featured,
“I’m amazed we even had artists and designers of this calibre operating in New Zealand. I can’t praise this book highly enough.”
Celebrity chef, Al Brown is celebrated for his amazing talent in turning our fresh New Zealand dishes into absolutely fabulous cuisine. His Auckland-based restaurant Depot won Metro Magazine’s coveted Restaurant of the Year Award and if you’ve ever had the chance to dine there, you’ll understand the award was well deserved.
On the back of his popular television show Get Fresh, where Al visited all ends of the country searching out the most divine produce and creating dreamy mouth-watering food, he’s just launched his latest cookbook under the same name.
Like his show, Al creates a menu which he feels epitomises each area and showcases a scrumptious main, entree and a dessert.
As Al explains, ‘It was very subjective, and a wonderful process for a chef to go through. A journey of discovery, unearthing the jewels or the surprises of each province, all the while trying to formulate a menu that I was going to cook at the end of my visit.” A great gift for a budding foodie.
Here’s a couple of recipes
LITTLENECK CLAM & CRAB CHOWDER
To Prepare the Clams
- 60 clams, about 2.5kg
- 1 cup white wine
- Scrub the clams under cold water to get rid of any remaining sand clinging to the shells.
- Place the clams in a large saucepan, pour the wine over them and cover with a lid. Put the saucepan over a high heat then check on the clams after about 5 minutes. Remove the clams one by one with a slotted spoon as soon as they begin to open. Discard any that have not opened. Once cooled, extract the clam meat from the shells and keep the precious cooking liquor.
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 cup finely chopped bacon
- 2 cups finely diced onion
- 1 cup finely diced celery
- 1 cup finely diced carrot
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 30g butter
- 30g flour
- liquor from the cooked clams
- 1½ litres fish or chicken stock
- 2 cups potato, cut into small dice
- 2 cups kumara, cut into small dice
- 1½ cups cream
- juice of 1 lemon
- cooked clams
- 1 cup crab meat
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Al Brown & Co. Lemon and Fennel Olive Oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place a large saucepan over a medium heat, and once hot add the oil followed by the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is golden. Now add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme and chilli flakes. Stir to combine, then turn down the heat and sweat the vegetables for 20 minutes until soft.
- Heat a large clean saucepan to medium and add the butter followed by the flour. Whisk to make a roux by cooking down the flour for a few minutes until it goes a pale white colour, then slowly pour in the chicken stock and reserved cooking liquor from the clams, whisking continuously to form a smooth silky chowder base. Pour over the sweated vegetables and drop in the potato and kumara. Simmer for 15 minutes until the potato and kumara are cooked. Pour in the cream and lemon juice then let the chowder come back to a gentle boil.
- Remove from the heat and lastly add the clams, crab meat and the finely chopped parsley. Add a slug of lemon and fennel oil. Check the seasoning: it will need only a little salt if any, as the clam juice will have added natural saltiness to the chowder, and a grind of fresh black pepper to finish.
- Serve immediately with fresh crusty bread warm from the oven.
SUMMER BERRY PUDDING WITH RUNNY CUSTARD
To Prepare the Fruit
- 2 cups raspberries
- 2 cups blackberries
- 3 cups strawberries
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- ¹⁄³ cup Chambord raspberry liqueur
- Rinse the berries and remove any stalks and the strawberry hulls. Cut the strawberries to match the size of the other berries.
- Mix the berries, sugar and Chambord together in a large mixing bowl. Transfer to a large saucepan or skillet and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have plumped and released their juices. Stir occasionally, but be careful not to stew the fruit. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Strain the fruit through a large sieve, collecting the juices in a bowl underneath. Stand until the juice stops running. Refrigerate the fruit and juice separately until required.
To Make the Pudding
- 16 slices white toast bread, crusts removed
- berry juice
- prepared berries
- Line a 10cm x 20cm loaf tin with a generous amount of plastic wrap.
- Brush the bread slices with the berry juice.
- Line the sides of the tin with a single layer of the bread slices, making sure there are no holes or gaps. The bread slices should overlap slightly and come right up the sides of the tin so there is a little excess hanging over the top. Spoon a layer of cooked fruit into the tin and place another layer of brushed bread on top of that.
- Repeat this process until you have built up three layers of fruit.
- Finish the pudding off by topping the last layer of fruit with bread then fold over the excess bread that is protruding above the sides. Likewise, the overhanging plastic wrap can be folded over to cover the pudding.
- Finally press the pudding with a heavy weight, using a flat object that covers the top of the tin. Refrigerate overnight.
- 500ml cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla paste
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- Place the cream and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan and heat until simmering. Remove from the heat.
- In a bowl, whisk your egg yolks with the sugar until creamy and pale.
- Slowly pour the hot cream into the yolk mixture while whisking continuously until all is incorporated.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place on a low heat.
- Take a wooden spoon and stir continuously until the custard begins to thicken slightly, enough to coat the back of the spoon.
- Remove immediately and strain through a sieve.
- Once cool, store in the refrigerator until required.
- Summer Berry Pudding
- softly whipped cream
- Runny Custard
- Remove the bread pudding from the tin and gently slice portions with a sharp and clean knife.
- Serve on chilled plates with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a healthy pour of runny custard.
Published by Random House, RRP $60.00
You can buy it here.
Taste from Central Otago by Pete Gawron
Ex-pat Australia Pete Gawron’s ﬁrst cookbook, Saffron: Food from the Central Otago Heartland, was a total hit with its stunning array of delicious recipes from his award- winning restaurant Saffron, in Arrowtown.
The eatery was recently listed by Conde Naste Traveller as one of the world’s top 100 most exciting restaurants.
Now Pete has done it again with this culinary masterpiece. Here he transforms local produce, often which he has foraged himself, into 75 delicious recipes. These are once again accompanied by gorgeous images by acclaimed food and lifestyle photographer Aaron McLean.
Divided into seasons, foodies will love the combination of ﬂavours and at times, the unusual produce Pete uses in his dishes, including Muttonbird, Boer goat, and sweetbread.
Curry trio, ceviche, Arrowtown
Published by Random House, $70.
You can buy it here.
Book Club: For Christmas & HolidaysDecember 13th, 2013
Shoes of the Week: Art & SoleNovember 5th, 2013
Book Club: Ladies, A Plate: Jams & PreservesOctober 26th, 2013
Book Club: The Last Days of The National CostumeSeptember 8th, 2013
Rick Stein’s IndiaJuly 18th, 2013