I have a soft spot for Australian cookbooks. It began when a magazine contribution by Donna Hay led me to an assortment of her cookbooks at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library, which in turn led me to a sizeable selection of British and Australian food magazines. Both the magazines and the blogosphere introduced me to two other notable Australian chefs: Bill Granger and Christine Manfield. These author’s titles had similarities: a unique photographic style, recipes with clean flavors, and convenient metric measurements.
I knew a little about these chef/authors when I started buying their books, but I knew nothing about Belinda Jeffery when I bought Mix & Bake (Penguin Global, 2008). Frankly, I pre-ordered it for the cover art. I was delighted to find it contained some great recipes that ranged from comforting to dramatic. Jeffery is an excellent writer with a lively, encouraging voice, and I find it disappointing that she is not better known stateside.
Her latest book, The Country Cookbook, arrived at my door on the heels of several urbanite-turned-farmer books (see reviews for Miller, Kimball, and Timmermeister: 1, 2, 3). Keeping with this theme of urban egress, The Country Cookbook chronicles a year following Jeffery’s move from Sydney to a country home in Mullumbimby, NSW. It is a diary with accompanying recipes and photographs, which can be read from start to finish, or browsed by season. While the diary format may be off-putting to some, I found it intimate and highly evocative. Jeffery clearly takes joy in her surroundings, which are sumptuously photographed by Rodney Weidland. (See a book preview and an interview with Jeffery on Penguin Australia’s site).
As I mentioned earlier, I love Australian cookbooks. I will warn you, however, that they can contain vocabulary which some Americans may find hard to interpret. Luckily, I’ve had few (if any) problems cooking from this book, as Jeffery’s instructions are clear and easy to follow. It contains a good balance of courses, suitable for many occasions. On another note, there are not one, but -two- ribbons in the book for marking your favorite recipes!
I will leave you with this recipe for a fabulous Apple & Cinnamon Crostata, which we enjoyed with homemade cinnamon ice cream. I baked it on a pizza stone, which made the crust well-browned and thoroughly crisped. If you want a perfectly round crostata, use a circular pan, or trace a 12-inch circle on parchment to assist you with rolling and shaping.
Continue reading Belinda Jeffery’s Apple Crostata