Cookbooks can sometimes be equated to old fashioned LP vinyl albums, I feel. Allow me to elaborate. There were times when you would buy an album, only to discover there were just a handful of songs on it that you really liked and wanted to play over and over. Similarly, with some cookbooks, (unless you happen to be blogging your way through a particular book),
you add only a few of the recipes to your repertoire, while the rest hold little or no interest to your tastebuds.
This cannot be said for a beautiful new book titled Under the Walnut Tree: great recipes from our kitchen, compiled by Swedish born mother and daughter team, Anna and Fanny Bergenström. With 400 recipes spread over seventeen chapters, the book embraces a wide variety of recipes based on ingredients that come with the changing seasons.
Avocado, tomatoes, leafy greens, herbs, chillies, horseradish, ginger, citrus, nuts and seeds, coconut, cardamom, pears, mango, raspberries, vanilla, tea, and chocolate are the chapter headings. How's that for a refreshing and interesting range of topics!?
The writers explain this diversity in the introduction: 'Since most of the ingredients can be used in so many different ways, you will find recipes for savoury dishes, desserts and baked goods within the same chapter. You may also find a recipe from Provence on one page and something from India on the next, or a hint of Sweden alongside South American flavours; all reflecting our family's culinary influences and the way we like to cook.'
There's also the philosophy of enjoying the seasons and cooking with newly harvested fruits and vegetables; and choosing organically grown 'mainly sustainable' produce, and free range meat and poultry from animals that have been raised with care. 'Using beautiful, seasonal ingredients inspires our cooking and gives us a more rewarding overall experience', they say.
The recipes are inspiring and easy to follow, and cover everything from simple avocado or tomato soup, to fresh mint labneh, through to lentil salad from Arlesin France, mojo rojo from the Canary Islands and berbere from Ethiopia, and pad Thai. There's also renklämma wraps made with smoked reindeer meat (Ikea, perhaps?), Swedish cardamom tea ring, pear marmalade, and chocolate cake with walnuts. Definitely an eclectic assortment and something for every cook.
The final chapter is devoted to menu ideas for all kinds of occasions and the book is embellished with deliciously styled photography by Fanny Bergenström.
Under the Walnut Tree by Anna Bergenström and Fanny Bergenström (Hardie Grant Books) $49.95. A splendid book, copies of which will be going into my loved ones' Christmas stockings. Sssh!
With sincere thanks to Anna and Fanny Bergenström and Hardie Grant for giving me the opportunity to review this title.
Cookbook reviews and interviews with food writers and chefs.