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My mother is vegetarian. I am very definitely not. However I would call myself a meat reducer as for more than a decade I have subscribed to the Riverford Organic Vegbox scheme and so am always on the hunt for ways to include more vegetables into our meals.
When my mum comes to visit, a weekends worth of vegetarian gluten free meals often proves to be a tricky combination. Until now…
Anna Jones’s new book A Modern Way to Eat truly solves this problem. But more than this, her cooking style and approach to creating simple, quick meals has me truly hooked. As I have mentioned before, I have a LOT of cookbooks. Even more now that I am curating the Free From Library for GF Gathering. So it takes a lot to win me over and using them for more than the odd ‘I have some time on my hands’ cooking.
A personal journey through food resulting in eating vegetarian called for Anna to rethink how to cook. Underpinning everything she makes considering taste, texture and beauty on the plate, has brought her to create some of the best recipes I have cooked for a very long time. Probably since I discovered Nigel Slaters simple seasonal style of cooking.
So far I have cooked Blueberry and Pecan Pancakes every weekend since I had the book. It has reinvented the way I look at Kale which appears on my doorstep via Riverford every week at the moment. Especially the Kale Chips. The Four O’clock Hot Chocolate is a divine pick me up a far cry from the powdered form. The Mint, Pistachio and Courgette Polpette – even my husband took the leftovers to work! I could go on… I have cooked so much from this book.
Her background as a food stylist, including many adventures in the world of Jamie Oliver has led her to really consider the food she makes, and wants to eat after dealing with food all day. As an ex Product Developer, I know that feeling… But I think what sets this book apart from anything else I have ever seen, is her attention to texture and what she calls ‘top notes‘. A spoonful of spiked yoghurt on top of the chilli. A scattering of hazlenuts over the salad for a real flavour boost and finishing touch to the dish. The other thing is, you kind of forget that you are eating vegetarian food. The Mushroom Byriani was so meaty you didn’t miss it. Which is great, as my mum is coming to visit for a long weekend, so we won’t even notice the lack of steak on the plate.
Please note that whilst this is very definitely a gluten free friendly book, not all of it is suitable. However there is a handy index of gluten free recipes at the back, and many of them can be adapted.