As you all know I'm a very proud New Zealander and have been known to get a little homesick. However, I shall be much less homesick as I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the book "Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook". The book not only features some delicious recipes it also has loads of gorgeous photographs that perfectly present her food and show off the spectacular scenery of Lake Wanaka, the Sothern Alps, and some of the surrouding areas.
I've long been a fan of the lovely Annabel Langbein. She is not very well known here in the UK but back home in New Zealand she's a cooking legend who has self-published 17 cookbooks. I've got some of her older cookbooks and bought them with me all the way to the UK from NZ.
Anyway, time to explore her latest book. Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook is a cookbook to accompany her new 13-part TV series that will be shown on The Good Food Channel here in the UK. The book focuses on Annabel gathering the freshest ingredients and cooking a menu for friends in different locations and settings. In her own words her own words "it's about a pared back approach to food and cooking thats celebrates the spirit of resourcefulness, the pleasure of freshness, a sense of belonging in the community around you and the ability to the live in the now, enjoying what is in season at its very best."
For example, she makes the following Bacon and Egg pie for a picnic after a session of cherry picking at a local orchard.
Annabel's Bacon and Egg Pie - Serves 6 - 8
3 sheets (450g) ready-rolled savoury shortcrust pastry
250g streaky bacon, cut into 2cm pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked and thinly sliced
3 tbsp soft herbs such as parsley, basil, chives or spring onion tops, chopped
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place a flat baking tray in the oven to heat – the pie will sit on this and the heat will help it to crisp.
Cut a piece of baking paper to fit a 40 x 30cm baking dish or roasting pan. It should cover the base and reach about 3-4cm up the sides. Remove the baking paper from the baking dish or roasting pan and lay it flat on your bench. Dust it with a little flour and lay 2 pastry sheets on top. Join the pastry sheets by pressing them together firmly with a small overlap. Roll out the pastry to cover the paper. Lift the paper with the pastry and lay it into the baking dish or roasting pan (it will reach 3-4cm up the sides).
Sprinkle the bacon over the pastry. Top with the sliced potato and sprinkle with the herbs. Break 8 whole eggs over the top.
In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk the remaining 6 eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. Pour this evenly over the whole eggs.
Roll out the remaining sheet of pastry very thinly and cut it into narrow strips. Arrange the strips in a lattice pattern on top of the pie, trimming off any excess.
Place the prepared pie on top of the heated baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is starting to puff and turn golden. Reduce the heat to 180˚C and bake until the pastry is golden and cooked through on the base – about a further 35-40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a salad and pickles or chutney. It will keep in a covered container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Each Chapter of the book has a theme - From the Oven has sticky buns, sausage rolls, breads, crispbreads, tarts and pies. From the Larder shows how to make your own cheese, icecream, choux pastry and chocolate treats. From the Garden is my favourite Chapter with recipes for sensational side dishes, salads, salsas, sauces and fabulous vegetarian dishes.
I utterly love this book and it will be kept at the top of my favourite cookbook pile with a couple of other treasured books that I often refer to. There are so many useful and delicious recipes, not to mention stunning photos of New Zealand to savour. I recommend this book without any hesitation and encourge everyone to watch her series on The Good Food Channel.
Good on you Annabel, you're a legend!