Yes, it’s that time of year again. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, etc. Our thoughts turn to cold-weather vacations and possibly (although not in my case) to sporty pursuits. There will be expectations of snowy vistas, the smell of pine and tables groaning with comforting food.
The Chalet Cookbook by the Abinger Cookery School in association with Fish and Pips have produced a book that will be a perfect inspiration for winter foods at home or in that cabin in the mountains, which will hopefully have a well-stocked supermarket within easy sledging distance.
This book takes a step away from cheese fondue and presents dishes that work well on self-catering winter holidays. But there is not a hint of instant packet mixes or corner-cutting. This is a proper adult cookbook which offers suggestions on appropriate dishes to make every chalet meal a feast, but without the need for the primary chefs to miss out on sloping off.
The Chalet Cookbook is a combination of traditional and thoroughly contemporary creations that have an international flavour, reflecting how most of us actually eat these days – or would like to. The recipes are divided by course, starting with breakfast and continuing with afternoon tea and then on to a full dinner spread. There is something here for every taste and indeed every level of cheffy skill.
The authors have been mindful of different eating habits. They provide wholesome and healthy items as well as those of a more hearty nature for people who have spent the day in open-air activities. Some dishes are fun and others rather avant garde but all will be appealing, not only to the chalet chef but also to those who are staying home. Some are for a crowd of 8 – 10 people and others are for 4 – 6 diners, making this a great cookbook for anyone who enjoys giving sizeable dinner parties.
Second helpings are on the cards
I wouldn’t pass up on eating any of the foods here but I do have favourites. Lemon Tart with Gin and Tonic Granita serves 8 to 10 people, or more likely four to five people twice, as second helpings are on the cards with this one. Yes, delicious when both the tart and granita are served together, but they could just as easily be enjoyed separately. That sorbet would be a refreshing palate-reviver between courses of a lavish dinner; and the tart as part of an afternoon tea spread. A timeless classic.
Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Crispy Polenta is a must-try and falls into the aforementioned category of comfort food. The lamb is spicy, rich and flavourful with a crunchy texture from the polenta. I think this lamb would also work well with soft polenta or even a heaping bowl of old-fashioned mash. Talking of polenta, there is a to-die-for Lemon Polenta Cake which will become a staple chez nous.
This isn’t a hefty tome but it’s full of inspiration. The only slight criticism is that I would have liked a little background or explanation for each recipe. It’s a delightful book and will be well-received this Yuletide by any enthusiastic cook.
To learn to cook like a Chalet pro visit www.abingercookeryschool.com
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018