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Book review – Kitchen Garden Companion

05 November 2010 by

Kitchen Garden Companion
By Stephanie Alexander
Quadrille, £30
ISBN 978-1-84400-878-0

With an ever-increasing demand upon chefs to use ingredients with the fewest food miles, the Kitchen Garden Companion from the doyenne of Australian cookery, Stephanie Alexander, is bang on the moment.

Having run Stephanie's Restaurant in Melbourne to great acclaim for 21 years and then been a partner in the city's Richmond Hill Café & Larder for eight years, Alexander more recently has immersed herself in food writing.

In 2000 she also became involved in initiating and promoting a primary school kitchen garden programme in the belief that the earlier children learn about food through example and positive experience, the better their food choices will be through life.

Now as a director of the not-for-profit Stephanie Alexander Garden Foundation, she is the perfect person to write this book, which is packed full of useful tips for growing your own produce and enticing dishes to cook from a bountiful harvest.

While the inspiration originally came from growing, harvesting and cooking with children, there is much here that will be of enormous value to chefs and cooks at all levels.

Divided into chapters on specific ingredients, there is much practical advice on how and where to grow your fruit, vegetables and herbs. No matter if you don't have acres of land; advice is also provided on how to get the most out of container planting. And despite being written by an Australian chef-gardener, all the information is from the point of view of the British growing seasons.

But where this book really wins is with its selection of approachable recipes, which sing of their ingredients. The dishes will appeal to an audience that demands freshness and taste over anything that is fancy and unachievable.

Prawn, pork and garlic chive won ton soup; leek, ham and goat's cheese gratin; and sweet and sour pumpkin with mint are just a small sample of some of the vegetable dishes.

Meanwhile, rhubarb and strawberry freeform tart, baked peaches with Amaretti biscuits, and orange crème caramels give an idea of some of the fruit recipes found in this weighty 730-page tome.

Illustrated with colour photography of the ingredients and some of the dishes, this is an informative and attractive book that the author intends its readers to use.

If you liked this, you'll love these:

Delia's Kitchen Garden: A Beginners' Guide to Growing and Cooking Fruit and Vegetables Gay Search and Delia Smith

â- Fork to Fork Journal Monty Don and Sarah Don

â- Garden Feast: Cooking with Fresh, Homegrown Produce Melissa King

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