The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein
I love Kiwi cookbooks and, with the Husband’s family feeling that birthdays and Christmas should be marked with new volumes, am lucky enough to have quite a few on my shelves. These books, from authors like Fleur Sullivan, Peta Mathias and Alexa Johnston often have a very different take on food; there are ingredients like tamarillos and feijoas, more of a focus on the flavours of Asia rather than the Mediterranean and lots of outdoor cooking. But one thing that they all have in common is the kind of easily achievable recipes that makes you want to drag the book straight into the kitchen.
Annabel Langbein‘s Eat Fresh has been a favourite of mine for a while so I was delighted when The Free Range Cook landed on my desk. Fifteen years into her career, Annabel is making her way over to this side of the world but she hasn’t lost any of that Kiwi charm. While she has no problem making things from scratch – soft fresh cheese, verjuice, flaky pastry, crème fraîche – the techniques used are simple and, the odd feijoa aside, ingredients are easy to find.
Many recipies are basic templates which she uses as jumping off points: for instance, the dough used in Sticky Buns can also become a Festive Gubana or some Apricot and Custard Tricorns. There are also lots of make-ahead Fridge Fixings (Spicy Rub, Harissa, Chilli Lime Salt) which can be taken in several different directions.
With an emphasis on feeding family and friends – there are menus scattered throughout – the quantities are generous. If you do as I did and make up the crumble amount suggested in the Rhubarb and Berry Crumble recipe, you’ll have stocked up your freezer for many puddings to come. At least there are another three recipes to use up the largesse.
With a kMix to test, I’ve gotten stuck in the Orchard and Larder chapters: last week Little Missy and I made a blackcurrant version of her Blueberry Crumble Cake, her Ultimate Chocolate Cake and added nectarines and almonds to the Vanilla Plum Cake. All recipes made enough to feed the masses, not that they hung around for too long.
If you’re a fan, you’ll love this new book and, if you’ve never come across Annabel Langbein before, you’re in for a big treat.
Must Try: homemade Verjuice – it’s not easy to find; while I still have the kMix to do all the work I want to make Goat Cheese and Spinach Souffles; a no-ice-cream-maker Double Chocolate Ice Cream.
The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein is published by Mitchell Beazley.
Reviewed by Caroline Hennessy, journalist, broadcaster and author of
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All About Food, a blog that started in Christchurch, New Zealand and is now living in North Cork, Ireland.