Two New Cookbooks!


Here’s a short quiz designed to determine if you suffer from chronic cookbook compulsion. Answer as honestly as you can – if not detected early this condition can have devastating consequences for your marriage, your job – even your home decor!

Which of the following applies to you?
a. You buy new cookbooks because you want them, not because you need them
b. You’re willing to miss your favorite television shows in order to read your new cookbooks
c. When you try unsuccessfully to fit them on your bookshelf you conclude the problem is not the number of cookbooks, but the number of bookshelves
d. You wake up your disgruntled husband at night to ask, “honey, which one of these should I make first?”
e. You get up before the alarm, sacrificing precious sleep, in order to look at your new cookbooks some more
f. Realizing you won’t be able to live without your new cookbooks for a whole day, you sneak them into work where you surreptitiously glance at them when no one else is looking
g. All of the above

Oh dear, I’m too ashamed to tell you which answer applies to me, but seeing as I wrote the quiz, I suppose you’ll be able to figure it out.

My new cookbooks, hot off the press, are:

Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons
by Diana Henry

I’ve been drooling over this cookbook in the bookstore for over a year, and felt the time had finally come to drool over a copy of my own. Diana Henry has collected recipes from around all the shores of the Mediterranean for this book, and grouped them by theme, so that every chapter has recipes that share common ingredients and have whimsical names like The Spice Trail, Fruits of Longing, Of Sea and Salt, and Fragrance of the Earth. The recipes are spectacular and unusual; the writing is evocative, poetic and sensual. She recounts personal experiences and anecdotes about the foods she describes; you feel you are experiencing the people, places and history of these foods through the pages of this book before you’ve even tasted the foods. The photographs are vivid and luminous. A magical book, a piece of art and inspiration as much as a catalogue of recipes.

Sample recipes:
Duck Breast with Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce
Lavender, Orange and Almond Cake
Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes and Saffron-Honey Jam
Date-Stuffed Mackerel with Spicy Broth and Couscous
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marinated Feta and Black Olives
Lemon and Basil Ice Cream
Piadina with Caramelized Onions, Walnuts and Taleggio
Chocolate and Rosemary Sorbet
Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Pork with Cardamom-Spiced Oranges
Amalfi Lemon and Honey Jam
Provencal Roast Lamb stuffed with Figs, Goat’s cheese and Walnuts
Spiced Quinces with Crema Catalana

Casa Moro
by Samuel and Samantha Clark

This book palpably abounds with love – love between the authors and their family, love of the cuisine they describe, and love of their adopted land in the south of Spain. The authors are the husband-and-wife team behind the popular London restaurant Moro, which serves their own particular interpretation of Spanish, North African and Middle Eastern food. This book is their second, and includes both recipes they serve at the restaurant and dishes they’ve learned from their neighbors in the small village in southern Spain where they live part-time. The photographs have a curious washed-out 1950s quality to them; I’ve seen this in other books recently and can’t quite understand it. They’re artistic in their own way, I suppose, but I would rather see food photographed in such luminous and vivid colors that you feel you want to eat the page. The recipes are amazing, however, and there are many of them; they cover much the same ground as Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, but they seem more rustic and hearty, an impression which is probably helped along by the photographic style.

Sample recipes:
Fried Aubergines with Honey
Saffron, Tahini and Yogurt Soup
Carrot Puree with Caraway and Feta
Rabbit with Rosemary Rice
Hot Chorizo Salad with Fino Sherry
Blood Orange and Rosewater Sorbet
Spiced Beef Salad with Fenugreek and Hummus
Pork in Almond Sauce
Chicken and Cardamom Dumplings
Dates with Coffee and Cardamom
Pistachio, Orange and Almond Tart
Roast Chicken Stuffed with Sage and Labneh
Chocolate, Chestnut and Almond Cake

Yum! Time to start cooking…