Cook Book Review - Downtime by Nadine Levy Redzepi
Happy New Year CIBARE readers! Now that the obligatory Christmas and New Year indulgence has ended followed by the January detox -ahem!, we’re all ready to ease into 2018 with a little comfort food. Downtime by Nadine Levy Redzepi, should tick this box. By bringing her chef skills into the home she’s ensured that both kids and adults enjoy the same food and perhaps the occasional unexpected guest. Visually, the book is gorgeous, feminine, effortless and inviting. It’s what I’d expect from a lady who’s worked at two-Michelin-star Danish restaurant Noma and is the wife of its chef patron. But don’t expect a book just of Danish cuisine, over several years Nadine has compiled an eclectic mix of personal recipes from her childhood in Portugal and her travels around the world.
As always, I’ll be cooking a three course meal for six people and all dishes are taken from the book - Four friends, one boyfriend and me, so whats on the menu?
Crisps with Salmon Tartare - “This? All day long!” expressed my guest as he scooped tartare onto a potato crisp (followed by a lot more). A clever little dish especially for those guests who don’t know they like raw fish. Mixing the raw with the cooked salmon gives this so much depth and flavour, the cucumber gives an added texture and the fresh herbs and creme fraiche elevate it. This was a hit.
Turmeric-Fried Bread with Herbed Aubergine - Fried turmeric bread?! It’s the future! Why have I not done this before? Thanks Nadine, my weekend breakfasts are getting a face lift. The bitter earthy flavour mellows once its fried with lashings of melted salted butter and all soaked up by chunky slices of ciabatta. The bread was the highlight and I can’t help wonder if the aubergine and herbs were missing an extra flavour, I think I’ll add a squeeze of lemon next time.
Leeks with Vinaigrette, Bacon and Pine Nuts - A classic combo with the salty crispy bacon against the lovely, sweet subtle flavour of the leeks. I found the foot note on how to change up your vinaigrette dressing helpful and added a dash of maple syrup as suggested. Although Nadine suggests that this can be served at room temperature, I cooked this dish twice (on separate days…), served warm is the way I’d go.
Danny’s Fried Chicken with Spiced Rice - Walk past that fried chicken shop, buy the simple ingredients for this dish and make it instead. The crispy coating seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper is the key to making the chicken finger licking good! (see what I did there?). The rice doesn’t have a spicy heat running through it as its only mildly flavoured with Madras curry powder, but paired with the sharp raisins and creamy banana slices it makes a little bit of everything taste great on a fork.
Danish Apple Dessert - It’s well worth taking the time to make the cookies, the consistency is somewhere between cookie and meringue, crispy on the outside, light and chewy on the inside. These taste incredibly sweet, but I suspect the block of marzipan AND sugar might have something to do with that! The portion size is generous and maybe if it hadn’t been for the the starters and main, we would have all managed to polish our bowls off. As the recipe suggests, you will have an awful lot of extra cookies so it might be worth halving the ingredients. Or to hell with it, you might want a lot of left over cookies!
One minor criticism is with the page layout. Stylish as it is, I found that with all the recipes the ingredients were on one page, but I had to turn the page to see the method. Its a small criticism but becomes a little irksome when your hands are covered in a mixture of egg and flour. Let me tell you, those pages aren’t looking so pretty now. Nadine’s food is uncomplicated and her methods are easy to follow, which makes this a perfect book if you’re a novice in the kitchen and keen to get stuck into some classic dishes. Everything is structured with explanations and tips, with words of encouragement given at the end of a recipe to congratulate you when you have successfully made it. If you’re more experienced, its a perfect starting point to layer up the flavours and experiment. Oh, and I literally want to try my hand at every single dessert - I’ll keep you posted!