LUCY HUB­BARD

Gizzi Ersk­ine’s new cook­book is all about in­vest­ing time in the kitchen and us­ing the best in­gre­di­ents. ELLA WALKER and find out more

Leicester Mercury - - Food & Drink -

GIZZI ERSK­INE is not into fast recipes, or ‘easy’ ones, for that mat­ter. Don’t ex­pect cor­ner-cut­ting tricks and 10-minute meals with this new recipe col­lec­tion.

In fact, she’s of the mind that, if you’re go­ing to eat a crab, you ought to know how to buy one fresh, crack it open prop­erly, and un­hook the creamy flesh your­self. It’s this style of cook­ing – in­vest­ing time, en­ergy, care, at­ten­tion – that is “how I gen­uinely get my thrills”, ex­plains the 39-year-old chef and TV pre­sen­ter.

So, if you’re al­ways in a hurry, the Lon­don-based food writer’s new cook­book, Slow, might not be on your ‘must-read’ list – although it ought to be.

Gizzi’s food is “tech­nique­based and in­gre­di­ents-led”, mean­ing Slow is laden with dishes that re­quire a lit­tle more ef­fort than hun­grily snatch­ing at the near­est avail­able sup­per.

“What I re­ally love to do is sit around a crock pot or a lovely roast – a dish that’s been in the oven for a re­ally long time,” she ex­plains. “Ev­ery­one sits to­gether, shoul­der-to-shoul­der, with glasses of wine, help­ing each other serve.”

Within the book, you’ll find a sticky ox­tail stew and salt-baked sea bass, Pol­ish go­labki (stuffed cab­bage leaves), pas­tries and cloud-like le­mon pud­dings, as well as hand-pulled noo­dles and a rich lamb hot­pot.

It’s struc­tured around process, the aim al­ways be­ing to cook meat so lux­u­ri­antly that it falls from the bone with barely a nudge.

“Yes, it might take you an af­ter­noon to learn how to make fresh pasta or fresh noo­dles, or to make a proper stock, but what you get out of that is some­thing that tastes so much bet­ter and is so much bet­ter for you,” says an un­apolo­getic Gizzi.

Slow­ing things down, she notes, is a way to bet­ter be­come “at one” with your in­gre­di­ents, their her­itage, their prop­er­ties and culi­nary pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Essen­tially, she’s not go­ing to dumb-down cook­ing for you, but that doesn’t mean her food is out of reach: “I want peo­ple to be chal­lenged. Of­ten, we’re told we’re not ca­pa­ble when we are, we are all ca­pa­ble to do any­thing we want.”

Gizzi is in­ter­ested in the slow grow­ing of foods, too. Not in­ter­fer­ing in terms of an­tibi­otics be­ing given to en­hance an­i­mals, or pes­ti­cides be­ing ap­plied to crops, as well as the cook­ing of them – prove­nance and qual­ity of in­gre­di­ents, she says, is cru­cial.

“I want peo­ple to un­der­stand that to make the best food, you have to have the best in­gre­di­ents,” she notes.

But Slow isn’t de­signed to be “wor­thy” or to make you feel bad.

“I’m very, very aware of the im­pli­ca­tions of money on (bet­ter qual­ity) food,”

Gizzi ad­mits, “but also, if we want to make a dif­fer­ence in the world, we all need to start cut­ting back on (in­dus­tri­ally farmed) meats.

“If we un­der­stand how food is grown,” she adds, “we might think dif­fer­ently about how we utilise it as an in­gre­di­ent.”

De­spite a stint as a pro­fes­sional body-piercer, Gizzi can­not re­mem­ber a time she didn’t cook (“There’s pic­tures of me as a baby with bowls in front of me, stir­ring things”), and spent a lot of her time in Asia as a child, due to her mother’s work in Bangkok, Thai­land.

“I got to eat as much Asian food as I could. That’s prob­a­bly where I learnt to cook,” she re­mem­bers.

Gizzi trained at Lei­ths Cook­ery School (it’s of­ten noted that she came top of her class) be­fore land­ing a BBC Good Food in­tern­ship, and go­ing on to host cook­ery pro­grammes like Cook Your­self Thin on Chan­nel 4.

She’s also worked in pro­fes­sional kitchens, such as St John Bread & Wine.

Hav­ing launched two new busi­nesses this year – her Mare Street Mar­ket res­tau­rant/deli and Pure Filth, her veg­gie burger joint – and writ­ten Slow, her plan now is to not “spread my­self too thin”.

“I want to get it all right: I want to be good at busi­ness, I want to get bet­ter as a cook­ery writer, I want to keep en­joy­ing my­self and do­ing what I love,” she says se­ri­ously. “I want to be re­ally good at my job.”

■ Slow (left) by Gizzi Ersk­ine, pho­tog­ra­phy Issy Cro­ker, is pub­lished by HQ, priced £25.

Chef and TV pre­sen­ter Gizzi Ersk­ine left, whose new book, Slow, is out now

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