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Lavender Biscuits, for Lime Curd Ice Cream Sandwiches

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to head down to Cape Town to join in all the happy kitchen chaos that went into shooting the photos for my next book. And while I’m here, I should probably tell you that it has a name. So friends, meet ‘smitten.’ – I like to think of it as a slightly older and wiser sibling to ‘bitten.’, a little more grown up and sophisticated, but without being complicated or stuck-up.  A little magical but still practical. And as for the cover we finally picked, well you’ll have to wait and see.

I was over the moon when the wonderful team over at Struik offered me the chance to write a second book in around June last year, and so I spent the second half of 2012 in the now familiar routine of scribbling down recipe ideas in the middle of the night and cooking, and cooking, and cooking, testing up to 6 or 7 recipes a day solidly for a good few months. Aiming for each recipe to be at least triple tested, and then sent out into the world to amazing friends who also helped out with the testing and gave invaluable feedback.

And just like with ‘bitten.’ it was an enormous challenge, but I loved every minute of it and so, thankfully, it never felt like hard work. And hard work it most surely is let me tell you, there’s very little that’s glamorous about writing a cookbook, it’s pure hard slog and graft, but it’s worth every minute.

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.

Did I succeed? Well I guess you will be the judge of that. And you can take up the task any time from February 2014 onwards when ‘smitten.’ will hit shelves here in SA. A launch via Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. should follow a few months after that.

A few of my favourite things? Bacon Marmalade; Sweet Potato Smoorsnoek; Coconut Poached Chicken with Thai-style dressing; Smoked Salmon Mac n’ Cheese; Tomato and Goats Cheese Tarte Tatin; BBQ Pulled Pork; Brisket Ragu with Penne; Roasted Brandied Clementines; Lime Curd Ice Cream Sandwiches…

And as for the photos, here are the very special people who took my recipes from two dimensional words in black and white to something that has life and colour and character in abundance. And for that, I am hugely grateful.

Try the Linguini with Chorizo and Lemony Broad Bean Pesto and the Teacup Pancakes with Quick Pear Jam.

DSC_0213Clever clever Food Stylist Lisa Clark and Book designing wizard Beverly Dodd

DSC_0212Uber-photographer Warren Heath

LisaSarahLisa and I with my Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart

DSC_0210The cute and quirky location for the shoot – Plush Props at The Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town

DSC_0277Lisa’s assistant Sara Lohmaier and Warren’s assistant, Josh

DSC_0275Lisa and Sara
smitten-1 Springbok skewers and a bottle of cider never hurt anyone did they?
This was nearly our cover, but in the end it was ousted for another picture. You’ll have to wait and see.

This was also nearly our cover.

One of Warren’s collages


Warren and Bev having a quick ‘image conference’

DSC_0201Sara rocking her boots and scarlet red apron in the kitchen


Our very first image of the shoot, Teacup Pancakes with Quick Pear Jam

And that’s Bev’s hand. Thank goodness she has hands in things like this.