Book review: A Table Full of Love by Skye McAlpine
Cookery writer Skye McAlpine's third cookbook is made to be pored over
When faced with a dreary outlook on the world, curling up with the comforting weight of a cookery book on your lap is the first port of call for many food obsessives. Cookery writer Skye McAlpine's third cookbook is made to be pored over and enjoyed in exactly that manner. A Table Full of Love is bursting at the seams with, well, love. And right now, we could all do with a little bit more love, if you ask me.
Chapters are split into comfort, seduce, nourish, spoil and cocoon, interspersed with McAlpine's musings on romance, friends and heartbreak. She suggests roast duck legs and winter citrus for date nights, or baked fennel and burrata gratin to cheer up a friend when they're low, or baked eggs with spinach and Gorgonzola for an indulgent solo week-night supper.
Recipes are elegant, such as the "sherbet-y" rhubarb syllabub with a glug of brandy, or a lemony chickpea and walnut salad. ‘Petra's creamy saffron chicken pie' has warming yellow hues and is adorned with crispy filo pastry, while the rocket, almond and date salad takes the reader to sunnier climes.
McAlpine divides her time between London and Venice and has previously published a book of recipes from the floating city in A Table in Venice. This Venetian influence continues into A Table Full of Love with saffron-infused cream served with penne and a saffron and lemon risotto. Her recipe for torta alla meringata –her "labour of love" – graces the cover of the book and would act as a stunning centrepiece. The inspiration comes from a dessert served at Harry's Dolci in Venice. McAlpine's version has vanilla-scented whipped cream layered with sponge and encased in soft Italian meringue, all of which "seems almost structurally improbable, but tastes like a bite of heaven".
Chefs and home cooks alike are feeders. There's an inherent joy in producing food to be enjoyed by someone else. And while this book won't necessarily set any menu inspiration alight, leafing through these comforting pages will nourish your soul and remind yourself why you started out in the kitchen in the first place.
A Table Full of Love by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury, £26)