All posts in Books For Cooks

NATURAL WINE: An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally

NATURAL WINE: An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturallyNATURAL WINE: An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally published in July

“A really inspiring book. Isabelle writes beautifully
and it’s given me a lot to think about” – Olly Smith

Over the last 50 years, winemaking has become ever-more processed, controlled and unnatural, from the use of blanket crop-spraying in vineyards to the over-use of sulphites and other additives in winemaking. This over-manipulation and lack of transparency has lead more and more people to turn to what is known as natural wine – wine made as nature intended with grapes that are farmed organically or biodynamically and with minimum intervention in the winery. Wine that is basically good old-fashioned fermented grape juice.

And there’s no one that knows them better than their standard bearer, Isabelle Legeron MW, who is at the forefront of this growth in awareness.

As crusader for the natural wine movement, she has presented her own show on the Travel Channel, acts as adviser to several leading restaurants and has set-up the hugely successful annual natural wine fair – RAW. Just as the craft beer movement has taken off across the globe, the demand for natural wine has exploded over the last couple of years, and looks set to go from strength to strength.

Isabelle says ‘I’m incredibly excited about releasing a book on natural wine. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about them, since it is the only wine I drink now. I want people to know about the rubbish that goes into making so many of the wines on our shelves, but even more than that I want them to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are amazing wines out there that are so, so much better in every way.’

The book is split into three parts. Part one examines the definition of natural wine, looking at The Vineyard, The Cellar, Taste, Misconceptions and Health. Part two explores the Who, Where and When, providing details of the Artisans, the Origins of the Movement and where you can find and buy natural wine. Finally, part three is about discovering natural wine for yourself, with information and tasting notes on a large variety of natural wines divided into Bubbles, Whites, Oranges, Pinks, Reds and Off-dry and sweets.

Isabelle Legeron, who lives in London, was the first French woman to become a Master of Wine, and was named Wine Woman of the Year 2009 in Paris. She runs the highly successful RAW fair in May in London, and advises various restaurants on their wine lists, including the Michelin 2* Hibiscus. She contributes to Decanter magazine, and organises conferences and tastings to spread the word about proper, natural wine.

Natural Wine: An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally will be available from July priced at £16.99.

The Ultimate Guide To Traditional Butchery

The Gourmet Butcher's Guide to MeatIn The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat master butcher Cole Ward aims to revive the traditional culinary art of butchery – an often overlooked but vitally important aspect of the farm-to-table movement. The most comprehensive guide available to the whole process of meat production, it will be invaluable to small-scale butchers, to chefs who want to broaden their skills, to the many who attend butchery courses, and to anyone who cares about how their meat is sourced.

The book features two master British butchers: Balson Bros, Bridport, Dorset – Britain’s oldest family butcher, and MacDonald Bros, Pitlochry, Scotland, owned and run by the MacDonald family since 1928.

“A good butcher is an ethical professional who knows the provenance of his or her meats,” Ward writes. “I want to give everyone an understanding and appreciation of my craft and its culinary artists, and I want to celebrate and support struggling small farmers and quality-meat producers. So my mission is nothing less than to bring back culinary butchery—a craft that we must never lose.”

The ultimate guide to traditional butchery, the book demystifies the complete process of getting meat from pasture to the table. It includes information on:
• The real definition, work, and role of a culinary butcher
• The roots of butchery from prehistory to modern times
• What goes on behind the scenes at meat markets large and small
• The truth behind meat-marketing claims of “organic,” “natural,” “free-range,” “grass-fed,” and “pasture-raised”; and,
• Processing your own meat, including what you’ll need in terms of tools, safety training, and preparation.

The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat also teaches readers how they can butcher an entire animal—a useful skill for many smallholders, farmers, and those who like to buy meat direct from the producer. His book includes an 800-slide CD that provides step-by-step images illustrating how to cut up a side of beef or pork, and a whole lamb or chicken.

The book will be welcome if you not only wish to learn the basic skills of butchery, but also want to understand how meat animals are raised, slaughtered, and marketed in a holistic system that respects both animals and consumers. After reading it you’ll be able to ask your local butcher key questions to determine the provenance of what’s going on your plate, know what to look for in a cut of meat, and learn how to start cutting up meat at home for your family.

Please note: National Butchers’ Week UK: Mon 24th-Sun 30th March 2014

The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat: How to Source it Ethically, Cut it Professionally, and Prepare it Properly (with DVD) is published by Chelsea Green on 27th March 2014, RRP £35.99, including CD with 800 images.

Foodie Offerings

foodie offeringsA new digital magazine – Foodie Offerings – that focuses on helping readers discover UK food and drink providers that they’ve probably never heard of. The magazine is available on the Apple iTunes Newsstand with Android and Kindle version due out during the first quarter of 2014. And if that isn’t enough you can download a PDF version by subscribing to the mailing list on the website.

“From amazing meats and cheeses, to speciality drinks, spices, jams, sauces and hampers, our digital magazine is designed to help you discover new culinary delights that you’ve probably never heard of. Start discovering food with Foodie Offerings.”

“We’ve teamed up with a selection of foodie providers to offer our readers some unique and exclusive discounts. Through Foodie Offerings you can sample the foods you love whilst getting a juicy discount off your purchase.”

Roast: A Very British Cookbook

Roast: A Very British Cookbook Since it opened its doors back in 2005, Roast restaurant’s mantra has been a simple one: to use produce from the nation’s farmers and fishermen to bring a new level of energy to British cooking. Its customers have long reaped the benefits, but now Marcus Verberne, the prodigiously talented head cook at this acclaimed Borough Market based eatery, is sharing its secret with a wider audience with the publication of Roast: a very British cookbook.

Featuring dishes for all occasions, from breakfasts and brunches through to lunches and dinners, this stunning tome recreates for the home cook some of Roast’s most popular fare. Alongside all the classics can be found a host of new favourites in this best of British selection of fish, poultry, lamb, mutton, goat, pork, beef, game and vegetables, plus many ideas for puddings, cocktails and wines.

Over 100 recipes illustrate Verberne’s dual approach: to source the best local produce on offer and to let the flavours and textures speak for themselves. The result is delicious, fuss-free delights like toasted crumpets with poached eggs, Bath pig chorizo & sweetcorn; pan-fried gurnard fillet with clams in cider & wild boar pancetta; anchovy-rubbed, hay-baked leg of mutton with parsley & caper sauce and roast chicken with sage-roasted squash, smoked bacon & creamed sweetcorn.

Unlike many cookbooks, the recipes here are all accessible; some are for basic preparations such as roasting potatoes or poaching eggs for which Marcus has included vital tips and rules that will ensure perfect results time after time. Other recipes are a little more ‘cheffy’ and use techniques that may be suited to more special occasions.

For the more difficult, unfamiliar preparations such as opening a live scallop or oyster, butchering a duck or rabbit or carving large joints, the book offers both step-by-step photographic instructions plus quick-response QR codes that once scanned using an appropriate device, link to film clips of online tutorials with Marcus.

The focus here is not only on the preparation of the final dish, but also on the vitally important role of those who provide its ingredients. The ultimate celebration of quality indigenous produce, Roast: a very British cookbook is Marcus’ personal tribute to the farmers, fishermen, growers, winemakers and other producers who with hard work, knowledge, skill and passion, inspire us to do their produce justice.

Roast: A Very British Cookbook is available from Amazon for £16.25.

Cicchetti and Other Small Italian Dishes To Share

Cicchetti and Other Small Italian Dishes to ShareCicchetti are irresistible little morsels full of local flavour, the Venetian equivalent of Italian antipasti, Spanish tapas and French canapés, Thai street food or English finger food.

Venetians have turned these bit-sized delights into a culinary art, but every Italian region has its own special version. Made using traditional methods and produce, the meat, seafood and vegetable treats are the best of Italian cooking in miniature.

Compelte with lively anecdotes, colour photography and the authors’ intimate knowledge of Italian cooking, Cicchetti and Other Small Italian Dishes To Share is a comprehensive collection of authentic and innovative recipes that well send your taste buds reeling.

The book is divided into two. The first half is written by Lindy Wildsmith and celebrates the traditions of Venetian cicchetti. It contains a selection of recipes divided into sections including seafood, crudo (raw fish or meat), meat, fresh produce, cheese, charcuteries and the aperitifs – yes, drinks are included – to serve with them. Recipes in this section include Fresh Tuna Balls with Anchovy and Lemon, Ricotta and Pancetta Crostini, Risotto with Peas and Venetian Chopped Liver Crostini.

The second part of the book, written by Valentina Harris, has extended the culinary journey around the other Italian regions to share some of finest stuzzichini produced by friggitor (fired food stalls), bars and rosticcerie (shops selling roasted meat) from Milan to Palermo. Harris supplies us with such delights as Creamed Asparagus Tartine, Basilicata Salami and Caciocavallo Cheese, Neopolitan Scrambled Eggs and Pancetta and Rosemary Pancakes.

All the recipes mentioned I’ve made and sampled; all were delicious.

Just a shame you can’t get Caciocavallo cheese and authentic lardo that easily in the UK. (Oddly named Nife is Life list both Lardo £12.50 for 500g and Smoked Caciocavallo cheese £11.50 for 650g.)

Cicchetti: And Other Small Italian Dishes to Share is soon to be available from Amazon for £20.