A Country Cook’s Kitchen: Time-Tested Kitchen Skills

by Alison Walker

with photography by Tara Fisher

Rizzoli

In shops now

To be clear, I receive a huge amount of cookbooks.  Very rarely do they stand apart from one another, but “A Country Cook’s Kitchen” is most certainly in a class by itself.  With gorgeous photography and a collection of recipes that are straightforward enough for novices, these are some cooking essentials that you may not have ever known you wanted to have at the ready for when your chums come ’round for a visit.

These are not meals, but rather country nublets for a simple breakfast, a tea-time snack, happy hour provisions or a bit of dessert.  Ms. Walker begins with a section on ‘Baking’ that covers basic white bread and baguettes (I’ve never made my own baguettes but I now feel compelled to), as well as pie dough, Egg and Bacon Tarts, and Spiced Fruit Pastries.  Then it’s onto cakes that will make your mouth water (or, in my case, foam) like Honey and Almond or Lavender and Lemon Madeira.  There are Cookies and Bars, Butter, Cream and Yogurt (Cinnamon Butter, noted!), then Ice Cream and Sherbert (I’ll have a scoop of  the Nutmeg and Bay Leaf, please…), Preserves, Jams, Jellies and Chutney, and then a whole section on Bottling with the most wonderful recipes for Tarragon Vinegar, Tomato Ketchup and more.  Then Liqueurs and Cordials (Elderflower Cordial, Cranberry and Orange Vodka).  Finally, a whole chapter on Curing and Potting (Gravlax, Sausages, etc.)

It’s a most impressive volume, and while you might not be able to get a full meal out of its contents, it really doesn’t matter.  These little dishes and sides, both sweet and savory have inspired me to get cracking in the kitchen and try out these wonderful flavor combinations.  If you don’t believe me, have a flip-through at your local bookshop.  The stunning photos and evocative pairings will capture your imagination.