Firstly, it would probably be the polite thing to do to wish you all a Happy New Year. And truly, sincerely, I hope that it has been so far and will be a good year for you all, filled with exciting adventures and happy hearts.
I’m terribly embarrassed that it’s mid-February and I am only now writing my first blog post. And, apologies if this whinging about busyness sounds not unlike one of my final posts of 2014, when I mentioned that I was in the final stages of editing for my new book. The thing is, it’s wonderful, bizarre, surreal busyness, as we’re now close to the finished product, thanks to the wizardy of Bev (uber designer), Warren (photo guru), Lisa and Andrea (blooming brilliant food stylists) who have toiled endlessly for the past two weeks cooking, styling, shooting, editing and making pretty all the pictures. They’re also the same crew who I have been lucky enough to work with on my two previous books, and I couldn’t be more thankful for how much love and effort they pour into making it all amazing. Hugest, most heartfelt thanks to you guys.
The whole process, unsurprisingly, wasn’t very different to that for Bitten or Smitten and it’s one that I’ve come to love. The midnight madness of writing down all my ideas and inspirations; the merry kitchen chaos of testing the recipes; the rather numbing editing process (no offense, Joy Clack, editor extraordinaire); and then the very happy picture-making and picture-taking stage, when I see all my food come to life on a plate. Now it’s off to the printers we go, and into the shops from July 2015 onwards.
I also have to thank the wonderful Minnaar family in Cape Town, who so kindly agreed for us to shoot the photos in their beautiful home. You have no idea the kind of organised disorder that goes with getting through an average of 10 shots a day. There is a ridiculous amount of work and time and effort that goes into the simple-sounding rotation of ‘shop – prep – cook – style – shoot – clear, repeat’. The Minnaars were endlessly patient and hospitable to all of us and for that, and for such a happy home to photograph in, I am so grateful.
And #Book 3 now has a name (!) – HOME, has a special place in my heart. Well, they all do of course, and being asked to choose between them is like being asked to choose between my own children. What I mean is that many of the recipes are ones that inspire memories of growing up on our farm, with long lazy weekend lunches around full and happy tables; smiling hearts and empty plates. There are also a lot of old South African favourites that I have given a new twist.
Here are a few of my favourite things
Pain perdu (French Toast) with sticky spiced quinces | Lamb and lentil bobotie pots | Spanish roast chicken | Prawn bunny chows | Sweetcorn pot bread with blistered tomato jam | Linguini with chorizo and chilli calamari | Honey spiced roast figs with amaretti crumble | Mocha pistachio affogato
When I introduced you all to Smitten, I said this, and it’s so true right here and now for Home as well…
It’s hard to say which book was more difficult to write. With ‘bitten.’ I was inspired, caught up in the momentum of novelty, but clueless – how on earth does one go about writing a cookbook? Not even Google has answers for that, believe me I checked. You can have a head and a heart full of ideas, but that doesn’t always easily translate to paper and accurate measurements. I was also pregnant and still working when I wrote ‘bitten.’ and the timeline was extremely tight, only 3 months. For ‘smitten.’ I no longer had the distraction of a full-time job, and I had the distinct advantage of hindsight, and knew so much more clearly how to go about doing what I needed to do. But, I also had the added pressure that I put on myself that this needed to be different, to be special in its own way, to have it’s own character, and to have the ability to inspire people all over again.
And I hope it will inspire you all over again, I hope you’ll love it, and that it too will be a companion of convenience for you in the kitchen.
PS Here are a few behind-the-scenes shots of all the merrimentMe with Bev (uber designer from Penguin-RandomHouse,
clever clever stylist Lisa Clark & her ever-able assistant Andrea
Lisa, oh-so-talented, styling way more than just food. And also, just plain styling.
Five minutes into Day 1 of our shoot, I realised that I’d left my aprons behind.
Luckily, the legends at Yuppiechef agreed to lend us some from their stash. Nice hey?
(You can find this particular one right here.)
Speedy Smoked Trout Tartlets
Spicy Chorizo and Lentil Soup
Lisa and Andrea.
Food styling parahpernalia.
What you don’t see through the lens.
Meg Minnaar and I.
Thanks to the Minnaars for letting us take over their amazing kitchen.
Baked Brie in Phyllo Pastry with Quick Fig Jam
Warren. The one behind the camera.
A Blistered Nectarine Salad, and a couple of cheesy grins (well, mine in particular).
Warren, trying his own version of the forced-smile.
Man at work.
Grapefruit and Star Anise Lemonade.
Cheese. It’s all about cropping and shopping in the right places.
Spanish Roast Chicken.