Wednesday 19 December 2018

Lavender & Lovage: A Culinary Notebook Of Memories And Recipes (sent for review)

It's been a little while since I reviewed a cookery book, but I've dusted off my apron for Karen Burns-Booth's debut cookbook, Lavender & Lovage: A Culinary Notebook Of Memories And Recipes From Home And Abroad. I think the title pretty much says it all really...

I read Karen's blog even before I had The Brick Castle and her food is good, unpretentious, tasty fare. Born in South Africa, she's lived in countries all over the world and has soaked up the food from every one. This is a gigantic recipe book with around 160 recipes. Alongside are snippets giving history, origins or a short tale about the recipe or it's ingredients. They're short and sweet, and really do add to the dish, often giving useful hints for home cooks too.

Recipes are split into several different sections depending on what time of day they're eaten, breads, vegetarian, pies and tarts, etc. and it's easy to decide on which type of dish you are cooking. Personally I was pleased to see there are plenty of interesting dishes suitable for vegetarians throughout the book, as well as a Vegetarian main meal section.

I was a little spoilt for choice with so many recipes in one book, so I decided I'd look in the cupboards and make something I had the ingredients for already. Bread Pudding nearly won it, but I plumped for a main instead - "Eat Your Greens" Toad-In-The-Hole.

What I like about Karen's recipes is that although they are from around the world, they are natural for someone brought up in the UK. Often adaptations of dishes we know well, using familiar ingredients. Measurements are simplified wherever possible and the instructions are clear and concise. It's less daunting for a home chef and that makes this an ideal book for me to pass over to one of my uni students.

The "Eat Your Greens" Toad-In-The-Hole takes one of our family favourites and changes it completely. I admit I often use red onion and mushroom in a toad-in-the-hole, but Karen's recipe adds carrot, sweet potato and tenderstem broccoli.

It really was a hit. The amount of veg meant the batter in places is thin and resulted in a thin pancake-tasting covering. The broccoli was a real surprise. I didn't have tenderstem, so covered it with foil for pre-baking in case it singed. In the Yorkshire batter it almost tasted more like asparagus. My grown up veggie kids will get to enjoy this dish over Christmas....

It's a lovely book. It runs at a relaxed, slow pace and the meals are hearty enough to please my grown up boys. It takes things you know well and gives them a really simple and clever twist. Flicking through looking at recipes you find yourself drawn into reading the snippets and knowing why a recipe is included or where it was originally from adds a little personality to every dish.

Lavender & Lovage: A Culinary Notebook Of Memories And Recipes From Home And Abroad is available to buy now priced around £35, from Amazon (*aff). Wipe clean hardback with an impressive 396 pages and colour photographs throughout.

We were sent our copy of Lavender & Lovage: A Culinary Notebook Of Memories And Recipes From Home And Abroad for review. Karen is a friend, but I'm cruel and heartless and would have told her if I didn't like it. Genuinely my 21 year old son is getting my copy for Christmas - don't worry, he won't read this. *Amazon links are affiliate as a thank you for me taking the time to sort out the link. It means I get a few pence if you order through my link, but you never pay a penny more. 

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