Maggie's Harvest by Maggie Beer: Cookbook Review Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Maggie's Harvest by Maggie Beer HeartHeart

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: Australia

Maggie's Harvest by Maggie Beer is a major work by one of Australia's finest cooks and food commentators. It comprises over 350 recipes spread over some 700 pages of lucid, interesting and compelling descriptions of dishes that are designed for convivial enjoyment.
Maggie Beer is well known to Australians from the time when she ran the fabulous Pheasant Farm Restaurant in South Australia's Barossa Valley. It was voted as Australia's finest restaurant before she closed it to concentrate on making the many products that are found in gourmet shops throughout the world including her pates, verjuice, jams, chutneys and relishes. She also appears on national TV program called the The Cook and The Chef.
The Contents page speaks volumes about what you can expect in this great book. Instead of being divided along the normal entrée, vegetables, main course, dessert lines it is divided into seasons and then into produce. In one fell swoop Beer has telegraphed to the reader what is most important in her cooking, namely fresh, seasonal produce.
Summer sees a discussion of apricots, basil, beans, gooseberries, tomatoes and zucchini among many more. Autumn sees the emergence of fennel, figs, grapes, olives, rhubarb and her beloved verjuice. For winter we are treated to a discussion of methods of cooking cavolo nero, celeriac, onions, root vegetables and witlof. Spring sees the blooming of artichokes, beetroot, parsley, peas, potatoes, spring lamb and strawberries.
Every one of the produce sections commences with a two, three or four page introduction that sets the scene so that the reader understands why she likes the product and why she treats it in the way that she does in the recipes to follow. This is the very antithesis of many modern cookbooks that try to strip out everything except the minimal set of mechanical steps necessary to turn out the food. By reading this book you will increase your understanding of produce and your desire to cook good things with it.
Once you get to a recipe, however, it is clearly defined, the measurements have been accurately checked and the instructions are very clear. This is not a daunting book, this is an enjoyable book.
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