One way to continue the memories of summer is to indulge in one of these relatively new cookbooks, all of which, with tempting recipes and lavish photographs, evoke the atmosphere of warm and relaxing Mediterranean days.
The Amalfi Coast: A Collection of Italian Recipes by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi
Just thinking of the Amalfi Coast conjures up images of a stunning (if perilously steep and winding!) coastline, and the amazingly vivid colours …the deep blue sea, the yellow of the abundant lemons and bottles of limoncello, the purple bougainvillea vines, green olive groves and white churches with blue and gold domes. Blessed with a long summer season, and mild mid-season, it is no wonder that it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe.
Katie Caldesi and her husband, Giancarlo, recreate the magic of the Amalfi Coast in their inspirational cookbook which, as well as giving a very informative introduction to the local cuisine, includes many amusing anecdotes about their experiences along the way, and some of the wonderfully authentic restaurants they found, making the book very readable on many levels.
It covers the area from Positano to Ravello and features a variety of dishes, all using the fresh local ingredients for which the area is renowned. As might be expected, seafood plays a large part in the diet here, along with fresh lemons, tomatoes, herbs and mozzarella. Try their pizza garnished with creamy mozzarella and fresh basil, delicious pastas , fresh seafood dishes, such as Pesce all’Acqua Pazza (mad water … in fact, sea water), and Strawberry and Lemon Tiramisu. The stunning photographs will only tempt you further, to both try the recipes and to visit this beautiful region of Italy.
For lovers of Italian cuisine, Katie and Giancarlo also have a new cookbook being published on 1st November, Venice: Lost and Found, which promises to be a real treat, and a wonderful gift, with its opulent Venetian cover and photographs.
Nina St Tropez: Recipes from the South of France by Nina Parker
St Tropez has the reputation for many as a millionaire’s playground, expensive, sophisticated and over-crowded, as it certainly can be during the summer months. However, you don’t need to travel very far out of the town to appreciate the countryside, which is undeniably typically Provençal with vineyards, olive groves, and picturesque hilltop towns such as Ramatuelle and Gassin, not to mention the three mile stretch of white sand at Pampelonne Beach. Out of high season, the picturesque town is a delight to visit, with its pretty harbour, and the quaint cobbled streets in the old town, with pale terracotta buildings and, of course, superb restaurants offering an abundance of tempting Provençal cuisine and atmosphere.
Nina Parker has written a wonderful recipe book including, but also showing another side of, the glamour that many people associate with St Tropez. She takes us back to the traditional south of France, and the traditional cooking which has been passed down through generations. Her recipes are inspired by locals, as well as places and stories from her childhood here; the authentic St Tropez with its beautiful scenic walks, lively markets, vineyards and local artists and fishermen.
With a background as a chef in London, her experience includes L’Anima, The Dorchester for Alain Ducasse, Tom Aikens, The Ledbury, and Bocca di Lupo’s Gelupo in Soho – and the famous Senequier Bakery in St Tropez. She now runs her own catering company, Nina, in London, sharing her love of Mediterranean cuisine….including home-made ratatouille, bouillabaisse, croissants and ice cream, all of which appear in this cookbook.
The Islands of Greece: Recipes from across the Greek Seas by Rebecca Seal
What is there not to like about the Greek islands as a summer holiday destination? This inspired cookbook has come from a love of the Greek Islands that many of us can identify with. The author, Rebecca Seal and photographer,Steven Joyce, have been travelling there for years, drawn by the attraction of the clear blue seas and skies, contrasting with the stark landscape and whitewashed houses of the Cyclades Islands, and of course the cuisine. The book concentrates on the Aegean islands from Crete to Mykonos to Alonissos, and Santorini to Rhodes.
Long gone are the days, many years ago now, when Greek cuisine was equated with not very exciting taramasalata, moussaka and second rate wines, This very user-friendly book will entice you with a range of delicious regional specialities, such as cheese pies, chargrilled aubergine salad, crispy squid or slow cooked lamb, or to experiment with more modern flavours, such as Rebecca s Volcanic Lamb or Drunken Chicken, or her polenta cake with figs and pinenuts.
Beautiful photographs complement the recipes and capture the magic of the islands. For anyone wanting to re-create a Greek summer holiday, close your eyes and savour the tastes, and you will feel as if you are back on an idyllic Greek island in the sunshine in a moment!
My Portugal by George Mendes
In another recently published book, My Portugal, George Mendes, chef and owner of the Michelin-starred Aldea, in New York City, introduces us to the world of Portuguese cuisine, offering 125 mouthwatering recipes that showcase the wide range of dishes that come from this coastal and mountainous country. For this book, he went on a road trip through his native Portugal to research, and the book includes excerpts from his trip, as well as stories of his childhood, including family recipes.
The collection balances Mendes’s popular restaurant recipes, such as his signature Duck Rice and Garlic Seared Shrimp, with his takes on classic Portuguese dishes, such as Salt, Cod, Potato, and Egg Casserole, Mozambique Shrimp and Okra with Piri Piri, Eggs Baked with Peas, Linguiça, and Bacon and much more.
With delicious recipes and stunning photographs, this book is both a homage to Mendes’ passion for his Portuguese culinary roots, but also with the modern and artistic interpretation for which he is renowned.
Roast Lamb in the Olive Groves: A Mediterranean Cookbook by Belinda Harley
Although Greece is already mentioned above, this charming and informative new cookbook by Belinda Harley, is irresistible! It focuses on the Mediterranean island of Paxos, a small island in the Ionian Sea, just south of Corfu, where the local people still follow old traditions, cooking simple dishes, from recipes handed down through the generations. Paxos can only be reached by ferry and therefore, has escaped being over-developed, and remains an idyllically peaceful and authentic destination with endless olive groves and clear blue sea, offering genuine Greek hospitality at its best.
The island also still bears a strong Italian influence, following the invasion by the Venetians in the 14th Century, when they planted many of the ancient olive trees still in evidence on Paxos. Venetian architecture can be seen along the harbour fronts, and the affinity with Italy is evident also in the cuisine. Many of the recipes included in this book combine the best of Greek and Italian cuisines; the simplicity and full flavours of local Greek ingredients, with the addition of some Italian style. Learn how to make real tzatziki, and prepare octopus Greek-style, or create fresh watermelon daiquiris to enjoy on a warm summer’s evening!
Belinda Harley began her career in publishing and has written a number best-selling cookbooks. She has spent over twenty years researching the food and recipes of the island of Paxos, and re-interpreting them for a modern generation.
Susie Marquis is Owner of The City Apartment Book Ltd.