It’s winter – let’s eat!

Cover of PieIt’s winter and I am not advocating heading for the snow, but to the kitchen. This a winter food rave. You see, for me the best thing about this season is… WINTER FOOD!

Does this grab you like it does me? Steak, Caramelised  Onion and Red Capsicum Mustard Pies from a simply named but lip-smacking cookbook: Pie, by Dean Brettschneider. It helps that the pictures are of perfectly made pastry, of course. Mine never looks like this, more of a patchwork quilt effect. Normally pastry is something I avoid as being too fiddly, but some of these pies are going to have to cross my lips and settle on the hips.

Cover of SlowI have become a bit of a cookbook stalker since working daily with library books. One I came across was Slow by Allyson Gofton. Most of the recipes I had never seen before and that’s always a huge drawcard. I’ve  been a bit wary of using the slow cooker for vege dishes, but the North African Vegetable & Lentil Stew, on page 279,  was a huge success and the eggplant held together beautifully.

Cover of Soup KitchenSmoked Haddock and Shrimp Chowder and/or Yellow Split Pea and Frankfurter Soup from Soup Kitchen have also taken my fancy. The latter sounds interesting, but could have some startling after effects. It’s one of Nigella “Who needs chocolate” Lawson’s contributions. Among the other contributors are Mr “Beep Beep” Ramsay, Jamie “Lips” Oliver, Rick “My Hero” Stein, and Hugh “Three Good Things” Fearnley-Whittingstall is the editor. It’s hard to go past soup and in my freezer there’s Tomato and Roast Capsicum Soup (blended with  a few Jalapeno peppers), waiting for suitable soup weather… and possibly the purchase of a fire extinguisher.

Cover of What's for Pudding?If there’s room, and it pays to leave some, What’s for Pudding? used to be the greeting we offered my poor mother as soon as we had finished the main meal. Two of my childhood faves, Bread and Butter Pudding, and Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding are represented in Alexa Johnston’s yummy book, but Gingerbread Upside Down Pudding or Apricot Betty sound even better.

Hungry now? What are your winter food favourites?  Much used cook books? Did you bring any family dishes from your homeland?

This leaves me feeling and probably looking like a Roly Poly Pudding!

Luncheon sausage and scones: Allyson Gofton in Oxford

CoverAllyson Gofton’s first words to us are a warning:  “Once I start talking I won’t shut up.”  Fair warning, and absolutely 100% true.  The words flowed in a torrent, every one a gem, but sadly for those who missed her, Saturday was the second to last day in her whirlwind tour with the new book.

Off to a running start, and a mini overview of her career – starting with her training in a Tasmanian maternity hospital kitchen, through to the cheffy European years. She spoke about her arrival in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly kitchens to work with Tui Flower. Allyson was thinking “lobster thermidor and creme caramel”, and was soon set straight:  “No, child, this is New Zealand.  Here we do luncheon sausage and scones”.

She spent time with Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr, and Robyn Martin, had stints at several other magazines, was on our screens for the Food In A Minute years and launched her own range of cookbooks.

The reason for today’s session is the launch of the Country Calendar Cookbook, to coincide with Country Calendar’s 45th anniversary on our TV screens.

Allyson is an astonishing multi-tasker – while all this is being shared, there’s also cooking going on – recipes from the book: oyster chowder, Boston bun, something to do with a ricotta pancake filling; AND a slideshow featuring many of the people she met touring the country with Country Calendar.

Shirley meets Alyson Gofton.It goes a bit like this: “blurb blurb Bio details, blurb blurb That’s the gorgeous Karen, quote from Karen, Oh and now we pop the seafood in and keep stirring, blurb blurb truffles, blurb blurb cowsh*t on my leather sandals, Now I’ll make a basic icing for the bun, blurb blurb skinning a rabbit in a Christian Dior cardy, here’s a picture of my son, gooseberry pie …” Imagine all of this delivered at breakneck speed, with no sign of stress at all, and the highest number of toilet words I’ve ever heard at a food event, and add the intoxicating smell of garlic frying in butter.  Everyone in the room is in booky foodie heaven, and totally in love with this amazing woman.

After the session, she’s all over the room signing books and chatting to people, having her photo taken, making sure people are having drinks, trying the food and generally enjoying themselves.  We extract  the promise of an interview later on, get Shirley’s photo taken, have the cookbook signed and drive off into the Oxford sunset, with me STILL trying to figure out how to tell you all the word Allyson used that I’ve NEVER EVER heard anyone say out loud at ANY book event.