Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…well, not today. I am soon to move The CooksPlayground to larger premises, and I have the awful task of having to pack up and also, worst of all, throw or give away things that I have collected over the years, and actually that have not seen the light of day for a few years.
As an organised person my thoughts are to pack up what is not being used on a daily basis, and then I find my staff saying, “Let’s pack your books first.” You have got to be kidding! I have an extensive cookbook library and I can’t bear the thought of all my books being packed away and sitting in boxes while my new premises is being built, but they are right. There are a few thousand books that need to be packed up, so permission has been granted for the books to go into boxes, all except for 100 of them, as I need to gaze upon them every day, and of course two of my latest acquisitions, which I shall place besides my bed with hundreds of other books. (This could be a cause for a divorce in my house, because my husband keeps tripping over them.)
I shall take my time and flip through the pages of the latest book of my beloved friend Gennaro Contoldo, ‘The Pasta Book’. We have been friends for many years and I love his passion for food and his excitement when we forage and he discovers something edible growing along the freeway. Whatever your ability in the kitchen, pasta is often a staple mid-week supper. This book will help to re-vamp your repertoire. It’s full of delicious, simple, seasonal recipes such as wild rocket & pecorino orecchiette, summer vegetable cappellacci, autumnal wild mushroom tagliatelle and wintery game ragu, as well as Gennaro’s take on classic favourites such as Carbonara and Bolognese. If you really want to be adventurous, there is always the option to learn about making pasta from scratch, but the recipes are equally tasty with dried pasta.
Labelled the man who taught Jamie Oliver everything he knows about Italian food, Gennaro’s passion for cooking began at an early age. Raised in Minori, Southern Italy, he grew up eating fresh, seasonal produce and learning how to make every variation of Italian pasta. As well as owning and running some of the UK’s best Italian restaurants, he has made copious television appearances, including on the series ‘Two Greedy Italians’ with good friend Antonio Carluccio. Gennaro’s larger than life personality and simple recipes have made him a YouTube success, with over 100000 subscribers and more than 1 million views across his online content.
Another one of my sweethearts is Sarah Graham and building on the success of her two previous books, and in support of her TV series, ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari’, comes her latest, ‘home. Food from My Kitchen’. It encapsulates cooking throughout southern Africa.
Within the standard cookbook format of Brunch, Salads, Soups, Snacks, Meat, Poultry, Pasta, Seafood, Desserts and Baking, she presents food that is simple but beautiful, delicious and healthy. Most of the dishes can be prepared as easily outdoors as in your kitchen, and the recipes will work for family meals as well as casual dining with friends. The blog-themed writing style engages readers, while stories and personal anecdotes offer some insight into the inspiration behind the recipes. Traditional South African favourites are given a modern makeover and readers are introduced to some less familiar dishes from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. Sarah loves to use her friends and family around the world as testers and tasters, so hesitant cooks can be assured that all her recipes really do work.
I can’t wait to find some time to get into the kitchen and try out a few recipes from these fabulous books.