6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A confident and comforting work by a talented food blogger and writer,
This review is from: A Slice of Cherry Pie (Hardcover)"A Slice of Cherry Pie" is an enchanting new cookbook by food blogger Julia Parsons, published by Absolute Press. Back in 2006, when most of us did not even know what a food blog was, Julia discovered the online world of recipe sharing, food writing, restaurant reviewing and cookbook comparing. That fledgling community has now grown to encompass thousands of foodies, cooks and food photographers all over the globe, and this book is a testament to this particular blogger's writing talents, food knowledge and love for the changing seasons, family, friends, hospitality and life.
You will be enchanted from the turn of the very first page. This is not just a collection of recipes, but a young woman's diary, a scrapbook, and a memoir all at once. You will see family photographs attached with sticky tape, parchment notes of blog posts, excerpts from Emily Bronte, Kenneth Grahame, AA Milne and Charles Dickens and little insertions about picnics on the grass, baking halloween biscuits with a sibling, the love of rain, visits to the seaside and family heritage. Some of the pages look as if they are printed on parchment, imbued with stains of butter and chocolate, human trial and error. Holiday postcards peer from under snaps of ice-cream and a smiling, gap-toothed little girl, the author herself, beams from under a cheese sauce recipe. Tea roses unfold their blousey petals through the summer menus, snowflake patterns crystallising the vivid image of winter in the air. Cristian Barnett is an immensely talented food photographer, and his work shines, understated, evocative and elegant.
Julia is modest about her culinary roots:
"The food I'd grown up with was honest, hearty English food, designed to feed a family on a small budget. It was good and homely, traditional and somewhat reserved. When I eventually flew the nest, armed with a couple of cookbooks, and an inquisitive appetite, I began to buy and cook with unfamiliar ingredients, embarking upon an exciting and liberating culinary voyage of discovery."
And that voyage of discovery is outlined in a very personal cookery journey, through the seasons, the larder, the garden and a respectful eye for a beautiful plate of food. We begin in the spring, cherry blossom is flowering and a vibrant "Asparagus, avocado and pea shoot salad" and a voluptuous "Duck egg chocolate cake" wake us from winter's sleepy reverie. The roll call of spring's exciting ingredients leads us into the "Sunshine and lemons" of early summer, rippling Parma ham slices with ruby red apples and "Pea stuffed chicken with Parmiggiano crusts". I love the title of "Last summer fling crumble", it conjurs up the joyful, carefree exhuberance of warm July days. I love the look of the "Filo crab parcels", paper thin pastry, crunching its amber knotted folds in a twist, with a sweet chilli jam bowl glistening in the background.
In "Rain on glass" Autumn beckons you indoors with "Herby roast chicken" and "Pear blackberry and chocolate tart". Julia's words evoke the warmth of log fires, soft blankets and flickering candle flames. The high days and holidays of her life punctuate the momentum of time. "Roast goose with chestnut and pancetta stuffing" and "Christmas trifle" take us into the Parsons' home, where friends, family and neighbours gather, helpful hints and tips on how to manage the stresses and strains of entertaining.
Above all else, this cookbook is a celebratory story of a life well lived, an inspirational outlook on what defines happiness, love and laughter. And what of that eponymous cherry pie, a slice of which led thousands of foodie browsers to log into Julia's blog every week for the last four years? Well, in the fleeting moment that British cherries are at their best, comes a recipe that puts the world to right:
"To be perfectly honest, I am not sure that any cherry pie can live up to the one in my head: the one with crumbly pastry and glossy, jammy cherries bursting with deep flavour; the one that tells stories of summertime and of family life around the kitchen table; the one that offers nourishment and love with every bite. So here I offer you just a humble pie, but one that makes me very happy. Eat a slice of it warm with vanilla ice cream and tell me the world isn't a better place".