Maggie Beer is a much-loved Australian food icon – I’ve adored her recipes for years and have all of her cookbooks in my library which I can assure you are well-thumbed!! There is probably the odd wine stain on a page or two!!!
One of the products that Maggie produces is verjuice. As she mentions in her Maggie’s Verjuice Cookbook – “Verjuice has a long history, having been used in cooking for centuries throughout Europe and the Middle East. In the Middle Ages it was made from sour fruits such as gooseberries, crabapples and plums, however the practice of using unripe grapes (either those picked too early to thin out the crop, or those growing too high on the bunch to ripen enough for winemaking) is the one that has endured over time. In fact, in many wine-growing countries it is still a part of the peasant farming culture to make verjuice (known as verjus in France, agresto in Italy, agraz in Spain, hosrum in Lebanon and abghooreh in Iran). It’s all about the principle of wasting nothing.”
Verjuice is a gentle acidulant which lifts the flavour of food without dominating the others flavours, and it is also wine-friendly from a pairing perspective.
I have become a true devotee of verjuice and this cookbook is a treasure trove of dishes to inspire. Here is a sample to get your taste buds going – Artichokes with Verjuice Hollandaise, Tomato Saffron & Verjuice Soup with Prawns & Chervil, Moussaka ( I love this dish!!), Sicilian Style Broccolini Pasta, Chestnut Panna Cotta with Verjuice-poached Pears with Chocolate & Vino Cotta Sauce, and finally Chocolate, Quince and Almond Tart!!!
If you have never used verjuice, give it a try. I can assure you that it will become a staple in your pantry. More importantly visit Maggie at www.maggiebeer.com.au – buy a copy of her book and her verjuice (she has a wonderful shop of goodies) and join her Food Club!!
In her words: ” I encourage you to try cooking with verjuice – it’s such a simple way to add flavour to your food. Try it in one or two recipes to start with, and soon you might finf yourself adding a splash here, and a splash there, to liven up all kinds of dishes. You might even… find yourself becoming a verjuice junkie!”
I am – thanks Maggie, you are a gem!!
Maggies Verjuice Cookbook is published by Lantern (an imprint of Penguin Books) and the stunning photography is by Sharyn Cairns.