One of my greatest inspirations in the kitchen is the Greens Cook Book.
I’ve just made a kale, potato and chilli soup from it for lunch.
My sister, Deb, gave it to me many years ago and I think she came across it when she was living in San Francisco where the Greens Restaurant is to be found.
I was so inspired I went there for lunch when I travelled to the West coast 20 years ago and I was not disappointed.
I remember the crisp white table linen, the sparkling wine glasses, the view across the bay to Sausalito and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge nearby.
The food was pretty good too!
Black bean and fresh corn chilli followed by a delightfully wobbly pannacotta, I seem to remember.
After the trip the book enabled me to recreate dishes like that back at home.
It was only on closer inspection that I realised one of the authors, Ed Espe Brown had written another of my cookery bibles, The Tassajara Cook Book.
It’s more of a manual than a conventional cook book.
It described the alchemy of cooking and taught me how to trust my taste and intuition and to use what was to hand.
Ed also showed me there was more than one way to chop a carrot!
Other books that have inspired me are those passed down by my mother.
Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David’s slightly academic, scholarly tomes adorn our bookshelves alongside newcomers like Yotam Ottolenghi, Dennis Cotter (owner of Cork’s Paradiso restaurant) and Rebecca Wood who wrote The Splendid Grain recommended to me by my late friend, John Mixer VII.
I also treasure my copy of Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, given to me by fellow Sacred Harp Singer Lin James.
Marcella Hazan’s Italian cook books and Fuschia Dunlop’s books about Szechuan cookery also rate highly in my pantheon of cookbook writer greats.
And I can’t leave out Madhur Jaffrey and Stephanie Alexander.
They’ve become like old friends and during this pandemic are even more important windows to other worlds.
Who’s inspired you in the kitchen?
I’d love to know more about your influences.