16 May 2012
In her new book favourite food writer Xanthe Clay pares back all the effort and fuss to show how to become a truly contented cook.
The Contented Cook is all about the enjoyment of food and cooking; the stirring, chopping and creativity and the treat of sitting down after a long day to something truly delicious. For Xanthe there’s nothing better than taking a simple ingredient, be it a fresh fennel bulb, sun-ripened tomatoes or the first pears of autumn, and letting their natural flavours shine through. Not about complicated recipes or the latest gadgets, this is cooking purely for pleasure and using seasonal produce to its best potential. Dishes such as Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin, Baked Penne with Leeks, Mustard and Bacon and Melting Kale with Green Olives and Garlic demonstrate this relaxed philosophy of cooking and offer the perfect way to use gluts, whether from the garden or when fruit and vegetables are at their cheapest.
Taking us through the year, Xanthe offers a wealth of ideas and solutions for making the most of the weather. For summer when you don’t want to stand over a hot stove, there’s low-fuss dishes perfect for al-fresco dining and ideas for cherries, raspberries, courgettes and aubergines. There is also a whole section on throwing a summer party with recipes to make ahead or in bulk and top tips for keeping everyone happy, however big the crowd. For autumn there are mezzes, tarts and pies, apples and quinces and dishes to ward off the darker evenings such as Pot-roast Pheasant with Beetroot and Two Kinds of Fig and Marinated Fennel and Chilli Salad. Finally for winter, when there’s nothing better than being in a warm kitchen, there is Celeriac, Hazelnut and Tahini Remoulade, Slow Roast Rosemary Pork Belly with Blue Cheese, Spanish Hot Chocolate and plenty of ideas for festive entertaining.
Impressive, easy and delicious, The Contented Cook is everything a cookbook should be, packed full of recipes you’ll want to make, as well as eat. With no tricky techniques or hard-to-find ingredients, Xanthe recognizes that the key to good food is simply in enjoying preparing and eating it.
Xanthe Clay trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine and has worked as a chef and a caterer. She is food columnist for the Daily Telegraph and has contributed to many different food publications.
For more information about 'The Content Cook', visit kylebooks.com