I don’t have much affection for winter but I do love the sort of rib-sticking, soul-warming, stomach-filling food that the season heralds. Especially when it originates from a climate colder than our own.
If her new cookbook Winter Cabin Cooking is anything to go by, Lizzie Kamenetzky is evidently a woman after my own heart. A celebration of dishes from all over Europe, there are few among the one hundred and fifty recipes that fail to appeal.
The cover is as cosy as the contents, featuring all the emblems of a comforting night in: a roaring fire, a fur blanket, a sugar-dusted Gateau de Savoie. Inside, the Cakes, Pastries & Bakes chapter is as plump as the home cook who attempts all the recipes will soon be; from simple Madeleines to the multi-layered Esterházy Cake even the author admits is a ‘labour of love’.
But where this kind of cooking is concerned, any effort involved is an essential part of the slow, meditative process. You won’t resent a moment spent in the kitchen. And nor will your guests – not when you’re dishing them up a dinner comprising, perhaps, Heaven & Earth Pie, the Käsespätzle that’s sold as Austria’s answer to macaroni cheese, crumb-topped Cassoulet, Prune & Armagnac Soufflé and quite probably half-a-dozen other dishes you feel you can’t do without.
Kamenetzky’s introduction lays out her love for the world’s mountain cuisines, simultaneously compelling us to fall for them too. If her words weren’t enough, the book is filled with full-bleed images of snowy log cabins and windswept vistas. Almost every photograph tempts you to try the recipe.
And those recipes are as well-structured as one would hope from a Leiths’ graduate and former delicious. magazine Food Editor: logical, waffle-free, and with informative introductions that allow you to feast not only on food but a bit of new knowledge.
I can think of no chilly day more perfect than one which commences with Boozy Coffee and Beaver Tail pastries and culminates in a slice or several of Zuger Kirschtorte, taking in a Cheese Fondue and a big bowl of Goulash Soup along the way.
With dishes suited to all occasions and times of day, Winter Cabin Cooking would make a brilliant companion on a self-catering holiday, but it’s equally adept at bringing an Alpine accent into any home. Traditional items from Switzerland join recipes from the mountainous terrains of countries including – but not limited to – Italy, France, Germany and Austria, with a few hearty British-ish numbers such as Spaghetti Bolognese and Chicken Liver Paté thrown in.
Kamentzky’s enthusiasm for her subject is both evident and infectious, although she doesn’t have to do much to convince the reader of the joys of comfort cuisine. Let’s face it, most of us are readily seduced by the blip and sputter of a stew on the stovetop or the prospect of a nourishing, sustaining supper after work.
If you’re in need of something to take the edge off the day before you even enter the kitchen, dip into the Drinks chapter for a nip of Vin Chaud or a Maple Old Fashioned before rolling up your sleeves for a stress-busting cooking session.
The cookbook market is crowded, perhaps overly so, with the new and novel. Winter Cabin Cooking delivers much-needed soul by the spadeful – and that, to me, is a real comfort.
The details: Winter Cabin Cooking by Lizzie Kamenetzky is published by Ryland, Peters & Small, RRP £19.99
Find it: To order on Amazon, click here