It probably helps that, before I read this book, I had spent a considerable amount of time in England, the countryside in particular. There is no more beautiful place on earth than the English countryside. So, I had a suspicion, before I even read this book, that I was going to like it. Naturally, I did, but I think you will too, because you don't have to bring any particular knowledge of England along with you when you read it, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy. I use the word "read" here because, while this is technically a cookbook, it also reads like a wonderful tale of discovery.
The Cottage Kitchen, Cozy Cooking in the English Countryside is the product of writer, photographer, and blogger extraordinaire, Marte Marie Forsberg. Fosberg, who grew up in the countryside of Norway, spent childhood and teenage summers in France and Switzerland, as well as considerable time in Italy, now finds herself planted in the English countryside, with her faithful companion, an English Pointer named Mr. Whiskey. Together they wander, forage, photograph, and cook up a delightful companionable existence, and a toothsome one, too!
This charming book is a visual delight. Before I read a single word, I fell in love with it. The author is quite an accomplished photographer, and her love of England shines through in every photograph. Her stories are enchanting, her recipes delicious.
The book is charmingly divided by season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and, well, Afternoon Tea, not a season in itself, of course, but well worth covering.
There is an elegance to the simplicity of the recipes. Each delicious one, preceded by its own story of origin, thoughtfully presented, and completely doable. Simplicity, indeed, seems the key here, as well as fresh local ingredients and unique combinations, all of which yield comfort foods of a superior variety.
On a whim (and because I had a vegetable crisper full of it), I tried the recipe for Stuet Käl (Creamy Cabbage Stew), a simple cooked cabbage in white sauce recipe that I found as tasty as it was warm and soothing.
With still more cabbage remaining, I tried her recipe for Waldorf Salad, in which I found cabbage a rather surprising addition, finding it to be my new favorite version, and on my list for monthly, if not weekly consumption.
I'm not a baker, particularly, but so many recipes beckoned to me here, that I might just end up changing my status in that regard, No-Knead Pecan and Fig Bread high on my list of Recipes to Try. Doughnuts with Chocolate Sauce, Almond Rice Cream Pudding, and Prosecco Scones, all had me similarly sighing.
Carnivores will no doubt find themselves tempted by Steak and Cheese Pie, Partridges Baked with Figs and Olives, or Marie's Meatballs with Parsnip and Cardamom Purée.
Whether a cook or diner, all will find this book a delight. Some may find themselves booking passage to the heart of England. This is a delicious, inspiring volume, a must for the home cook's library, and sure to make a welcome gift.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.