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Posts Tagged ‘Tamasin Day-Lewis’

A tale of two cookbooks

In behavior, culture, domestic life, family, food, life on December 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

By Caitlin Kelly

I love cooking, and cookbooks and folders filled with recipes clipped from everywhere.

I knew Jose, my husband, was a potential keeper when he had the same 1989 cookbook I’ve used for years, and love, written by American ex-pat Patricia Wells, “Bistro Cooking.”

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We once had friends over for dinner and the recipe — flambeed chicken with mushrooms — contained the unforgettable phrase “Avert your gaze” for the moment when you ignite the bird. (Or singe your eyelashes and eyebrows.)

Two cookbooks I’m getting to know and enjoy are so utterly different. Even their covers and photos are as unalike — as the British would say — as chalk and cheese.

One, Tamasin’s Weekend Food, is written by Tamasin Day-Lewis, sister of the British actor Daniel Day-Lewis. I have no idea where I bought it — probably on a visit home to Canada, where it’s much easier to find books by British publishers than here in New York.

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I love everything about this book, from its silver end-papers to the way it’s structured: Friday Night, Saturday morning, Saturday lunch, Tea time, Saturday supper and Sunday lunch.

I love her elegant assumption, (so not true for us), that one has fled the craziness of city life for a weekend spent with kids and dogs in some crumbling 16th century rectory with muddy Wellies in the entryway.

It has a soft red ribbon with which to mark your place.

I love the photos of her — no make-up, lean-limbed, clutching a bunch of carrots in her blue jeans like some Celtic Scarlett O’Hara, long hair askew. Even on the cover, she’s looking down, not smiling and looks tired.

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The recipes, each quirky enough to be interesting, are a mix of humble — home-made bread — and vaguely exotic, like pan bagnat., one of my favorite French things to eat.

I recently — on a weeknight even! — when it was rainy and windy and the night air smelled of woodsmoke, tackled her salmon fishcakes with creme fraiche tartare sauce. All of it made from scratch. She insisted on wild salmon — and, indeed it had a wholly different consistency than the filets we usually buy. The tartar sauce, as promised was “moreish, the sort of thing you have to dip your finger into.” Indeed! It was light, creamy, tart and unlike any gummy, nasty bottled tartar sauce I’ve eaten.

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The other book, “The barefoot contessa back to basics” is very American, from its cover image of jolly, not-thin Ina Garten looking into the camera with its perky lime-green lettering, spine and end-papers to the photo of her gorgeous country house — a mansion in the Hamptons and super-elegant kitchen. It was a wedding gift to us from friends who, like us, love to entertain guests.

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I like that she includes recipes for cocktails, one of which we served at a brunch for friends — mango banana daiquiris.

I like her list of 10 things not to serve at a dinner party, including garlic and raw onions, nuts and two fish courses. (We now make sure to ask every guest if there is any food they loathe, having once made a fantastic salmon dish at which my friend J [sigh] sniffed: “I don’t eat fish.”)

Not the right answer!

The recipes offer a nice range of choices and the color photos are terrific. I’m looking forward to exploring it further even as, (yes, somehow), I try to shed 30+ pounds over the next few months.

Here is a review of 14 cookbooks that came out in 2013, from Time Out New York, and 12 more from The New York Times. (Several books made both lists.) The one I’m most intrigued by is “Ottolenghi”, by the owner of the London restaurant that bears his last name.

Do you have a favorite cookbook or two to recommend?

Filling The 'Hungry Gap' With Tamasin Day-Lewis, Cookbook Author And Sister Of You Know Who

In food, women on March 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm
out of the frying pan

Image by waferboard via Flickr

The month of March — the wind howling today, crocuses and daffodils up here in New York — is called the ‘hungry gap” says Tamasin Day-Lewis, the shaggy-haired, un-Botoxed British cookbook author featured in this month’s U.S. edition of Elle magazine:

England has a trinity of famous food personalities: Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, and Tamasin Day-Lewis. While the first two have become successful U.S. imports, the latter, despite being the sister of actor Daniel Day-Lewis and a close friend of celebs such as Julia Roberts (who you might recall was linked to the There Will Be Blood actor back in the ’90s), is known here mainly to insiders.

This might have something to do with the fact that, although Day-Lewis’ ethos is similar to Lawson and Oliver’s—we ought to mostly eat delicious food using fresh, humanely sourced ingredients—her delivery is not as user-friendly as Nigella’s (you too can be a domestic goddess) or the Naked Chef’s (throw some arugula in, mate—that’s the secret, innit?). The demystification of cooking is not her primary concern; the poetry of the palate is.

But her latest book, Supper for a Song, may be what expands her U.S. reputation. The title alludes both to getting something for nothing and to the always-out-of-pocket bohemian who pays her way by providing good conversation.

I have one of her cookbooks, Tamasin’s Weekend Food, and love it. It’s one of her eight cookbooks, and her tone — breezy, elegant, relaxed, veddy British — is a lovely breath of fresh country air. It assumes — sigh — one has a big old country house and you need to cook for hungry kids and/or multiple weekend guests. (She lives, lucky thing, in a 15th. century house in Somerset, three hours from London, writes for the Daily Telegraph and has a television show.)

I have none of these but still love the book, its photos and its recipes. It even has the classic red ribbon with which to mark your place.

In it, she writes:

“The weekend defines one’s style of cooking and eating more than any other time of the week…You have no time — you are tired. You have invited more people than you meant or or you have nowhere to go and nobody to come — YET. You have more time to cook than at any other time of the week, but you don’t want to feel you’ve got to do it — that stops the pleasure of the planning, the mulling, the weekend being the weekend.”

Who else, in a recipe for leeks vinaigrette (p. 88) commands: “Irrigate the leeks, which you have laid regimental style”? Or, (p. 106) “There has been much written about syllabub”?

From a review of her memoir, from The Independent:

Despite her zeal about healthy, sustainable food, Day-Lewis is pessimistic that attitudes will change. “You have to start with people who care a bit,” she adds with a shrug. The English, she says, are more eager to watch cooking on the telly than to care about what they cook and eat. ” I can’t make people buy the ingredients. I can’t make them sit down together. We want to eat food that takes no time at all and is made of mechanically recovered slurry.”

As for Jamie Oliver’s attempts to force children to eat decent school dinners, the plan is fundamentally flawed. “It will never work. You have to get them into the kitchen as part of the curriculum and make them cook,” she says. It was a lesson she learned in the kitchen of Elizabeth Jane Howard as she chopped vegetables and tried to forget her father’s illness. “No child ever didn’t eat what they cooked for themselves. That is what life is all about.” *

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