I recently shared with you Maggie’s Verjuice Cookbook, but here I want to share with you Maggie’s Kitchen – a cookbook of pure country delight, celebrating good, fresh, simple food that has become so much a staple of the way that I cook today, thanks to Maggie.
The first thing I would like to say about this cookbook is that it is the perfect gift for someone who is starting out on their own culinary journey. In the first part of this book (pp 1-33) Maggie sets out essential equipment, what she keeps in her highly-organised larder (memo to self – re-organise my larder), how to shop and eat in tune with the seasons, and finally how to make cooking fun, enjoyable and easy. This information is an absolute bonus and so valuable, and even an experienced cook will find these first 30 odd pages full of highly useful information, which will doubtless change in some manner the way you approach the kitchen. Encourage any one you give this book too (as well as yourself of course) to digest these pages and then focus on the recipes.
Maggie’s Kitchen is then broken down into three key chapters – Beginning, Middle and End. In the Beginning chapter you will find dishes perfect for brunches, light lunches or even a light supper, while there are recipes such as Broad Bean with Pecorino, Frozen Pea Soup, and Eggplant Pickle, which can serve as sides, entrees and accompaniments. The salads here are so fresh and delicious and Maggie even throws in an Oyster shooter for good measure! Just a hint – her Baked Savoury Cheesecake is awesome!!
Her middle section provides a range of recipes which will cater to all tastebuds. The key to these recipes are that they are all designed around the concept of sharing and as you know, sharing food with family and friends is the best possible way to truly enjoy and taste the food. Here you will find recipes such as Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey and Vinegar, a to die for Macaroni Cheese, Steak and Oyster Pies, Beef Tagine with Dried Fruit (another favourite of mine), Potato Gnocchi with Prawns, and a superb Lamb Moussaka. There are several seafood recipes too, if that is something that takes your fancy.
The End section is a dessert lover’s version of heaven. Think about Chocolate Ganache Tart with Blood Orange, Chocolate and Hazelnut Roulade, Golden Syrup Dumplings, and Rhubarb Crumble…. now if the thought of those recipes haven’t got your dessert taste buds going, there are recipes for Panna Cotta, custard delights and so on.
Maggie’s food in this cookbook is for everyone who loves delicious, simple fare, who loves to prepare and share their food with family and friends and who sees that food preparation has a seductiveness to it like no other.
I love what Maggie says in the introduction: “To me, a recipe is like a road map – a starting point from which to work, a document that can accommodate your own likes and dislikes. When it comes to deciding what to cook, rather than choosing a recipe and then heading off to shop for the listed ingredients, approach it the other way around. Go shopping and let yourself be seduced by whatever is in season, and then find a way to cook the produce that stands out most to you.”
Thanks for that advice Maggie – I have learnt a lot from focusing on the produce rather than the recipe, but your Maggie’s Kitchen is well used and loved in my kitchen.
(Maggie’s Kitchen is available from her website – www.maggiebeer.com.au, from Booktopia – www.booktopia.com.au as well as other good booksellers. The outstanding photography is by Simon Griffiths. Published by Lantern, a part of Penguin Group (Australia), 2008)