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Good Tempered Food
on 8 June 2011
A lot of people seem to find Tamasin Day-Lewis frighteningly elitist. She isn't the sort of person to wander into the supermarket to buy a ready-meal for supper, and she is messianic about the quality of ingredients, advocating organic produce. In the introduction to this book she says "I am no purist hardliner", although I suspect many would regard her approach as pretty purist. That said, I love her style of cooking even if I don't always, or even, often use organic vegetables - let's face it the recipes will still work even if the ingredients are not organic. She has a go at some TV chefs who, she says, 'short-change' us by showing us how we can prepare meals quickly. I disagree with her there - I would sooner people cooked something from scratch than always buy pre-prepared food. I am a keen cook but, like most people, don't always have the time to linger in the kitchen so a really quick Nigel Slater/Jamie Oliver/etc recipe is sometimes exactly what I need. Where I do agree with TDL is that cooking is a pleasurable activity "as can be planning, shopping, reading cookery books, deliberating, telephoning a friend for a recipe, or even that most evanescent of things, inspiration; checking out the cupboard, the larder, the fridge, the vegetable garden." This book, in particular, is a potterer's dream.
The recipes are influenced by the cuisine of countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the countries of the Far East, and India. Here are a few recipes to give you an idea of what to expect: sweet potato & coriander soup; chickpea soup with pasta; pepperoni alla siciliana; stuffed vine leaves; smoky aubergine & white bean purée, which combines two of my favourite ingredients, aubergine and cannellini beans; potted shrimps; slow-roasted tomato tarts; roasted butternut squash with mushrooms & cream; a tomato cream ring which makes a wonderful light summer lunch dish; roast cod with braised puy lentils & roasted veg; monkfish steeped in saffron milk with a Romesco sauce; another monkfish dish is served with a lemon & caper sauce; leg of lamb braised with haricot beans; grillade of lamb breast. There is venison, veal, chicken, pork (including roast leg of pork with a spiced orange rub cooked with sweet potatoes) as well.
There is plenty to suit vegetarians too, although in some recipes you may need to substitute one or two ingredients. By way of example, there are pancakes layered with mozzarella & tomato sauce or with pesto & mozzarella; butternut squash gnocchi. There is a number of bread recipes, various desserts and cakes including chocolate & raspberry pudding cake with chocolate ganache; chocolate & chestnut marquise; Armagnac & orange apricots; spicy doughnuts with fresh mango & lime; Queen of puddings (I hadn't had that in years until getting this book) and lemon & cardamom cake. There are a number of jellies of which my favourite is clementine, passion fruit & Muscat. There is also the odd preserve including a nice chilli jam.
Off the top of my head I can't recall any ingredients, apart obviously from fresh seasonal produce, which were difficult to find or which I didn't have in my store cupboard.