Tuesday, December 16

Victoria Amory + Holiday Giveaway

Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a collector of cookbooks. I could spend hours flipping through the pages and daydreaming about dinner parties and trying to imagine the smells and flavors of interesting dishes. I am also very picky when it comes to cookbooks! I want for them to be beautiful, colorful, well written and simple—all traits of the new cookbook Delicious Flavors by Victoria Amory.

I am in love with my copy of Delicious Flavors and thrilled to be partnering with the beautiful and talented Victoria. As a holiday gift, two lucky All the Best readers will receive a copy of Delicious Flavors.

Simply subscribe to All the Best at the left of this post to enter. If you are a current subscriber, then reply to this email with ‘Delicious Flavors’ in the subject line. The two recipients will be announced on December 24, 2008.

Who has had the biggest influence on your style of cooking and entertaining?
From my father I learned the art of welcoming everyone at home and from my mother the ability of turning not much food into a grandiose feast in a matter of minutes.

From my sister-in-law, Chessy Rayner, I learned the timing of a dinner party. Once that first guest opened the door, she was ON, no matter what happened in the kitchen. Her menus reflected that rule, and they were always deliciously simple and elegantly presented.

What is your fondest food-related childhood memory?
As very young children, on holidays in the country, my father would take us on a picnic in the fields. We would start by collecting wood, building a bonfire and cooking for what seemed “hours”.

When you began working on your book what comes first - the recipes or the concept
The overall concept, criteria of recipes and parameters come first. Then I add my favorite stories and recipes.

What is your favorite comfort food
A dish from Madrid called “Huevos Estrellados” made with soft fried potatoes and just fried eggs. Really simple and totally delicious.

What is your all-time favorite cookbook
When I search for pure recipes and classic foods, I always refer to a book by the marquesa de Parabere, a Spanish aristocrat who wrote the guide in the late 1800’s filled with wonderful explanations of simple, elegant cooking.

If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would you invite and what would you serve?
How about King Arthur, Merlin and the knights of the Round Table. Can you imagine the stories? I would serve them Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables, Baby Potatoes with Herb Butter, Green Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Chocolate Cake. A hearty, elegant and simple menu made with really fresh ingredients.

What is your favorite way to spend the holidays?
I love sitting by the fireplace in our house in Southampton, with a mug of hot chocolate in my hand, playing Scrable with my children.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
I have just finished Nelson Demille’s latest “trashy” novel “The Gate House” which I mix with contemporary food writing like Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories.

Victoria Amory’s Squash & Chestnut Soup

4 tablespoons butter
1-tablespoon olive oil
4 bacon strips, cut into strips
1 stalk celery, diced
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
12 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
10 roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped
3-4 cups homemade broth*
Sea salt and ground pepper
Parmesan cheese to serve

In a large stockpot melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the bacon and celery and sauté until the bacon becomes crunchy and the celery is soft. Add the butternut squash, onion, garlic, sage leaves and chestnuts, stir and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20-30 minutes.

Using the back of a spoon or a potato masher, press into the soup to puree the squash and leave a chunky texture. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

*Homemade Broth
In a large stockpot, place the ends of the celery, onion and its skin, rinds of squash, a clove of garlic, sage leaves, a carrot and some mushrooms with a tablespoon of peppercorns. Fill the pot with at least 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the broth becomes fragrant and mahogany brown. Discard the solids and store the unused portion for up to a week.


Karena said...

Mmmm. the image of that soup in this wintry snow looks so good. I would love,love,love to win Victoria's new cookbook. Thank you Ronda, another escellent interview.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the two volumes of Marquesa de Parabere´s "Enciclopedia culinaria" (known as "el parabere" in my family) is a must.


Courtney said...

This soup looks incredible!! And I love the steamy, soupy photo!

So Ronda...What if we subscribe through Google reader??

ALL THE BEST said...

Google reader is fine...just send me a quick email too.

Anonymous said...

Oh that soup sounds so delicious! I want this cookbook!!!!

ALL THE BEST said...

Isn't that image of the soup so beautiful!?!

Leciawp said...

Great interview and the soup looks fabulous! I just sent you an email - thanks for the drawing.

Anonymous said...

Pick me, pick me, pick me ! :-)

Joyce said...

The photo of the soup looks mmmm...
I love cookbooks. We had to build shelves and still not enough room for all of them!!
Thank you for doing this giveaway!

pve design said...

"Delicious soup" yes please.