What a delightful book! Yes, it’s a cookery book, but it’s also so, so much more! In ‘Two KItchens’, Rachael Roddy portrays her joy at the landscapes and foods of Italy and brings to life the people, the places and the ingredients which mark out her life as a cookery author. She believes “recipes live in stories” and her book is testament to this. In the course of ‘Two Kitchens’, she recounts many fascinating stories and relates them to the dishes she cooks and the recipes she provides. The photography is magnificent, not just the photographs of the dishes she prepares, but also those of the people and landscapes she observes.
“This is a recipe book that reflects the way I cook and eat: uncomplicated, direct and adaptable” she writes. Very true. Rachel Roddy’s recipes exemplify the essence of Italian cooking, especially of pasta dishes, where ‘less is more’. The simplicity of dishes called ‘Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil and Lemon’ or ‘Tagliatelli with Lemon and Parmesan’ belies how delicious they taste.
This very accessible book is helpfully divided into four main sections: Vegetables and Herbs; Fruit and Nuts; Meat, Fish & Dairy; and Storecupboard. Within each section, there are sweet and savoury recipes, each based on a single main ingredient, for example ‘Rice and Peas’, ‘Pasta with Fresh Broad Bean Sauce’, and ‘ Cauliflower with Polenta Crust’. What it says in the title is what you get in the dish.
This is not a book of complex recipes requiring little-known, specialist ingredients which you buy, use once and leave to moulder in your cupboard. The ingredients are straight-forward and may well already be in your food larder and, if not, will be readily available at your local supermarket.
The dishes are easy to prepare, for example ‘Sausages with Grapes and Red Onions’ and ‘Chicken Balls with Ricotta and Lemon’ are simple and very tasty. While ‘Carla’s Savoury Tart’ is a particularly delicious main course meal based on vegetables and goats cheese. I’m personally not fond of the saltiness of anchovies, so I substituted tinned sardines in ‘Chicken with Potatoes, Anchovies and Rosemary’ and the resulting dish was scrumptious!
Of course, desserts are not forgotten and nor are they complex in their ingredients or in their making. ‘Chocolate and Almond Cake’, ‘Milk and Chocolate Semifreddo’ and ‘Lemon Pudding’ are all worth trying, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
The overwhelming message of this book is that the key to good food is access to fresh ingredients and a passion for cookery. Happy eating!