'I always refer to myself as a cook, not a chef. Even though I was formally trained, I truly believe that the best recipes are learned in the kitchen rather than the classroom... So, for my new book, I wanted to focus on home cooking, a subject dear to my heart.'
It's Saturday afternoon and I've just come home from my usual outing to the Capital Region Farmer's Market, as well as the Lifeline Autumn Book Fair. My 'nanna trolley' was overflowing with books, together with market-fresh seasonal produce. Later today, I plan to sit in a big, comfy chair in my sunny living room and thumb the pages of the new (old cookbooks) that I bought at the fair. But for now, my focus is being in the kitchen creating a dish or two from Valli Little's newest cook book delicious. Home Cooking. Valli Little is one of my favourite cookery writers. 'Sourcing, cooking, tasting and sharing food is one of life's great pleasures,' she writes. Readers will know that I share this philosophy and Valli's love of using fresh ingredients to create memorable meals.
Indeed, Valli Little is widely regarded as one of Australia's most exciting food writers. Her passion for food shines through in her recipes, which are imaginative, easy-to-follow and fail-safe. For eleven years Valli has been the food director of delicious. magazine, and every month she creates new recipes inspired by her travels and love of cooking and entertaining.
In delicious. Home Cooking, Valli presents 120 new recipes to cook at home, together with her tips and tricks to 'turn a family classic into a cover-worthy meal without the fuss'. Chapters cover the four seasons, with starters, mains, desserts and menus for each. There's much to cook here. The recipes are achievable, simple to follow and accompanied by beautifully shot photographs.
One of the Autumn starter recipes that caught my eye is something playfully called 'Figgy Piggy' - a combination of ripe figs, sweet prosciutto and a little soft Italian blue cheese with ciabatta. How perfect! HarperCollins have kindly allowed me to share Valli's recipe with you.
12 ciabatta slices
Olive oil, to brush
1 garlic clove, halved
12 figs, torn in half
120g gorgonzola dolce or other mild blue cheese, crumbled
12 slices prosciutto
Mixed micro herbs or small basil leaves and vincotto* or balsamic vinegar, to serve
Heat a chargrill pan over high heat. Brush the bread with a little olive oil and grill for 1-2 minutes each side until charred. Rub the hot bread with the cut side of the garlic clove. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, brush the figs with a little olive oil, and grill, torn-side down, for 1 minute or until lightly caramelised. Scatter most of the cheese over the bread, drape with the prosciutto and top with figs. Top with herbs and remaining cheese, drizzle with vincotto and serve. Serves 6. *Vincotto (a condiment made from cooked grape must) is available from gourmet food shops.
And now for my delicious. Home Cooking by Valli Little PRIZE GIVEAWAY!
Thanks to HarperCollins Publishers, I have three copies of delicious. Home Cooking to give away. Three fans of Valli Little and readers of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things will each win a copy of the book, valued at $49.99.
HOW TO ENTER AND CONDITIONS
The competition is open to Australian residents only and runs from Saturday, 16 March until midnight on Wednesday, 27 March 2013.
To enter the contest, subscribe to my regular recipe updates (if you haven't already); then submit a comment on this post and tell me about your favourite Valli Little recipe and why you'd love to win a copy of delicious. Home Cooking, Valli's latest book. If you can't think of a particular recipe, hey, just tell me why you'd like to win!
Please make sure you enter your email address with your comment, so that I can reach you in the event that you're one of the three winners! The winners will be notified by email and the prizes will be posted to you kind courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
GLENDA (the one at entry number three)
Congratulations! You will be notified by email and a copy of delicious. Home Cooking will be posted to you by HarperCollins publishers. Thanks all for your great interest! Watch this space for more good things to come!
HarperCollins Publishers have generously sponsored the prizes. I have not been compensated for this post, but am delighted to be able to offer you the opportunity to win a copy of this beautiful book. So spread the word and get those entries in! Thank you HarperCollins. And, thank you, dear readers for supporting Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.