Cook­ing is one of the plea­sures of win­ter­time and here are three books that in­spire you to take the time to learn to pre­pare de­li­cious fare from stews and roasts to Cata­lan dishes and Mid­dle Eastern desserts.

Chic & Country - - Contents -

Win­ter Cook­ing

As Christ­mas ap­proaches, our thoughts, for some strange rea­son, have turned to food, drink and par­ty­ing. We wanted to cel­e­brate the sea­son as well as find­ing out how the sea­son could be cel­e­brated in dif­fer­ent parts of the world. As Louise Franc ex­plains in her new com­pi­la­tion Win­ter, the sea­son is all about com­fort foods – “slow-cooked meats, rich soups and stews, hearty roasts and fiery cur­ries”. Her book fea­tures plenty of slow cook­ing recipes, which add a great depth of flavour and ten­der­ness to dishes. As she ex­plains, the beauty of these dishes is once you’ve started the cook­ing process, there’s not much more you’ll need to do – ex­cept re­lax and let time do all the work for you. For poul­try lovers, try the baked tar­ragon chicken or creamy cal­va­dos chicken. For some­thing a lit­tle spicier, ex­per­i­ment with Moroc­can style roast chicken with pre­served le­mon or push the boat out with Hun­gar­ian pork and beef goulash.

If all these dishes seem a lit­tle too heavy, then we sug­gest learn­ing to cook in The Cata­lan Kitchen, which is Emma Warren’s ver­bal shrine to Catalunya, the culi­nary heart of Spain. You should com­mence your gas­tro­nomic trav­els with Pica Pica (from the verb ‘to pick’) which are a se­lec­tion of small dishes – they can be as sim­ple as al­monds in rose­mary and gar­lic (100 types of al­monds are grown in Spain!), bread with tomato or olives with orange peel. Try the Cata­lan ar­ti­chokes, a favourite in the Barceloneta

neigh­bour­hood, or the Cata­lan pizza slice, which has no cheese! Of course, Catalunya is blessed with some of the best fish and shell­fish in the world, and so there are many tasty seafood recipes with clams, sar­dines, cala­mari and mus­sels.

A Cata­lan fish stew is a great way to use up any left­overs.

Which­ever cui­sine you choose, you are go­ing to need to end your meal with some­thing sug­ary and there is noth­ing bet­ter than re­ly­ing on the sweet tooth of the Mid­dle East. Greg and Lucy Malouf’s book Suqar sets out what is pos­si­ble, tempt­ing you with flaky, nut-stuffed pas­tries and del­i­cate milk pud­dings, ex­otic fruit sal­ads, silken sor­bets, syrup­soaked fritters and a de­lec­ta­ble range of spiced cakes and cook­ies. Many of the recipes they pro­vide re­flect the fact that sugar has been around for much longer in the Arab world than in Eu­rope. In many Mid­dle Eastern house­holds, bis­cuits and cook­ies hold a deep sig­nif­i­cance and mak­ing them is fre­quently a fam­ily or com­mu­nity ac­tiv­ity dur­ing re­li­gious hol­i­days, so try the se­same and pis­ta­chio– stud­ded bazarek bis­cuits and short­breads or the choco­late arabesque wafers.

These three books guar­an­tee that you will have a truly in­ter­na­tional hol­i­day sea­son, and we hope you en­joy the cre­ations – wher­ever you are in the world!

Louise Franc’s Win­ter and Emma Warren’s The Cata­lan Kitchen are pub­lished by Smith Street Books. Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Suqar is pub­lished by Hardie Grant Books.

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