The Free Range Cook

I first met Annabel Langbein when we were attending the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Provence where we were nominated for our cookbooks. When she invited me to visit her home in south New Zealand, I was determined to plan a trip, and Elliott and I had the good fortune to do so just a few years later. I have visited many countries, but I found New Zealand to be the most beautiful of all with the most amazing vistas (Lord of the Rings was filmed there.) Coincident to the name of Annabel's new book (her 22nd!) what stands out most in my memory were the muffins we enjoyed for breakfast. The color was so bright and sunny I asked Annabel if she added saffron. But no! It turns out the eggs were from her free range chickens. She explained that the yolks were so bright orange other visitors objected thinking there was something amiss. The Free Range Cook Simple Pleasures is a companion book to Annabel's tv show of the same name. Some of the recipes have QR codes which when scanned with a smart phone will take the reader to a video of Annabel making the recipe. (You can also access the videos at annabel-langbein.com.) The recipes in this book, from around the world, make me want to leap in and start cooking. I love Annabel's innovative ideas and combinations of flavor. Her lemon and candied ginger ice cream is a truly inspired flavor combination and best of all, it has a beautifully billowy and creamy texture without the need for an ice cream machine. Next up will be the Crispy Topped Cauliflower Cheese which is cooked in a cheddar cheese mustard sauce and topped with a Provençal crust of breadcrumbs, herbs and anchovies. I'm also eager to try her Ultimate Chocolate Brownie. She writes that her secret ingredient is dates and I can already imagine the deliciously chewy texture they will impart. Annabel bakes and cooks by measure rather than by weight but she offers a conversion chart, on page 313, where she lists all-purpose flour as 150 grams per cup measured by "scooping" which we in the US call the dip and sweep method. I was especially delighted when I received the book, as the stunning photos brought me back to the incredible beauty of New Zealand. Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook