Cook at home with care and patience

By Review By Myrna Robins Time of article published Sep 17, 2012

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Scrumptious: Food For Family And Friends

Jane-Anne Hobbs

(Struik Lifestyle)


At a time when most cookbooks focus on meals in minutes and shortcuts to feeding the family, this title is both refreshing and reassuring: there are young food writers out there who are spreading the word, along with plenty of butter, that the creation of memorable meals requires time, basic skills and enthusiasm.

Hobbs is a Hout Bay-based editor, journalist and a busy mother of three, who will always make time to cater for a special occasion dinner. She points out that while celebrity cooks create an interest in matters culinary, their television shows – which produce glistening dishes in minutes – can mislead, as the cooking processes are not screened.

Readers of both her independent food blog Scrumptious and recipes developed for Woolworths are guaranteed professional presentations, augmented with careful instructions and handy tips, characteristics which apply to every recipe in this hardback. They are designed for home entertaining, combine modern and updated classics, and there’s plenty to suit grand occasions and family get-togethers.

Among the “flourish of trumpets”, as she describes the starters, are trendy smoked venison with cream cheese and horseradish, topped with pomegranate syrup and seeds, followed by old-fashioned tuna paté updated with green peppercorns and white anchovy fillets. Hobbs also revives those 70s salads that contain a wealth of ingredients, as in her herbed rice salad with feta, walnuts and broccoli crumbs.

In her chapter on soups she stresses the importance of good homemade stock, and finishes them in grand style – her white gazpacho with tomato granita could make a fine start to summery festive meals. A hot Caprese tart is a vegetarian dish that tempts, and her lentil and butternut bobotie is a meatless version that sings with flavour.

Middle-Eastern and Med influences are apparent in the seafood section, and Gallic notes prevail in the chicken recipes, while most of the meat dishes require long, slow cooking, ideal for preparing in advance.

The desserts also fall into this category, including five recipes for icecream, along with a revival of that old sensation, baked Alaska. A couple of sweet and savoury fruit and cheese combos make delectable alternatives.

Nearly every dish has been beautifully photographed by Michael le Grange, making a stunning complement to the treasury of gastronomic ideas. Prolific cookbook writer Lynn Bedford Hall, who wrote the foreword, sums up Scrumptious as “a book which encourages home cooks to cook with care and patience, to focus on flavour, pay attention to detail… taste, here, is paramount.” - Weekend Argus

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