Good Reading : March 2006
word of mouth cookbooks REVIEWED BY ALI COCKSEDGE My Italian Heart looks magnificent. Mirka Mora’s vibrant cover and art- work throughout the book complement the photos to make this book something really special. It’s described as ‘a Melbour ne cookbook with an Italian heritage’, and uses ingredients that may not be traditional. Roast eggplant with por- cini, asparagus and buffalo mozzarella combines several of my favourite ingredients into a wonderful salad, but after doubling the suggested cook- ing time for the eggplant mine wasn’t nearly soft, which threw out my timing for the rest of the meal.The result was deli- cious, although I confess I used just a few porcini for flavour and made up the rest with button mushrooms. Asparagus with proscuitto, fontina and poached egg made a luxurious dinner, but was so rich I don’t see how it could be eaten as an entrée. Unless you showed some restraint and ate less than 2 bunches of asparagus each. As a child I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. I found her descriptions of making toffee by pouring hot syrup onto snow mag- ical. And so, apparently, did Diana Henry. What her Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons did for the foods of the Middle East Roast Figs, Sugar Snow does for winter foods – that is, renders them entrancing. Which takes some doing since these are hard-core, stick to your ribs, stoke the internal fires foods, but her combina- tion of evocative prose, inter- esting poems and stunning photographs does the trick. Onion and cider soup with melting camembert is a Norman twist to classic French onion: wonderful. A salad of pear, hazelnuts and cashel blue cheese (I used walnuts and gorgonzola) was good, but more fiddle than the version I normally do. Roast squash with porcini cream i so good m trying o figure out ow to serve crowd without the hot, musky cream flow- ing all over the kitchen. Give the mascar- pone a miss in the roasted spare ribs with pears, onions and melting gorgonzola – it’s absurdly rich even without it. Delicious, but I won’t cook it again until I’ve done a hard day’s work in a frosty winter garden. Ilove tapas – little tastes of delicious food, buckets of sangría and a high concen- tration of attractive waiters – but I don’t know much about Spanish food. Elisabeth Luard’s Food of Spain and Portugal delighted me. Salsa romesco – a puree of capsicum, chilli and almonds – is my new favourite condi- ment. My cream cake with sour cherries was so nice I forgave the fact that it looked nothing like the picture. Pimento-pickled pork fillet was more a marinade than a pickle: loads of flavour, even though I was pan-frying rather than barbecuing. After my passion for beans with mustard, beans with spiced almonds comes a close second. Chestnut and chickpea hot- pot was a meaty, comforting stew, but I felt there was a hole in the flavour, although a friend with Spanish heritage pointed out that I’m spoilt by spiky, balanced, chilli-and- lime-with-everything modern Australian food and wouldn’t recognise genuine peasant food if it bit me. So there. My Italian Heart: recipes from an Italian kitchen Guy Grossi | ★★★ Lantern $45.00 Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: food to warm the soul Diana Henry | ★★★★★ Mitchell Beazley $49.95 The Food of Spain and Portugal: a regional celebration Elisabeth Luard | ★★★ Kyle Cathie $49.95 Find out what’s on and where! Are you looking to find out what book-related events are happening around the country? Visit www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au If you have an event you would like our readers to know about contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 9810 2477.