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BOOK REVIEW: Maggie Beer’s Autumn Harvest

| 29 February 2016 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Maggie Beer’s Autumn Harvest

February 2016
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

General Cooking


Maggie Beer's Autumn Harvest

No spring chicken herself, the venerable Maggie Beer keeps to the traditional European path with her latest collection of Autumn Harvest recipes, which means no ‘dude food’ or trend-du-jours on parade.

In this day when we find more cowboys in kitchens than trained chefs, and those that get trained are often woefully lacking in the basics, Ms Beer’s approach is a breath of fresh air and insurance against the loss of knowledge and techniques that were commonplace just a couple of decades ago.

Autumn Harvest tackles just 22 primary ingredients, with an essay on each covering provenance, uses, cooking methods and more. Before getting down to brass tacks with some beautiful recipes, the majority of which are grounded in either the French or Italian schools.

One of the highlights is finding that the recipes for each harvest item don’t always use that item as their central feature. Accordingly, for mushrooms, Beer gives us a mushroom soup, pigeon & field mushroom pie and risotto with mushrooms. Pears are described glazed with mascarpone, dried then poached in verjuice, in a filo tart and in a trifle. It’s an approach which allows the home cook to picture that ingredient as both the star of its own show, and as a supporting cast member – which is exactly the options any halfway decent chef has when contemplating a new dish.

Maggie Beer has excelled herself with a mixture of easily obtained produce, no matter where the reader is located, but also not shied away from more unusual items such as pheasant, pigeon and hare. Once again this should be seen as much more that trying to catch home cooks out: astute food lovers will quickly realise that these recipes – like all good recipes – can be used as guidelines, to then mix and match alternate ingredients with: chicken for pigeon, rabbit or pork for hare, or so on. What matters most is the combinations & balances of flavour, and, crucially, the methods.

Category: Book Reviews

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