I cannot contain my excitement any longer. For several weeks I have been in the possession of an advance copy of my new cookbook Homegrown Kitchen – Everyday Recipes for Eating Well, and I can’t wait any longer to share it with you all. I can honestly say I am incredibly proud of this book and all that it contains within the pages. Almost daily I find myself cooking from it (although I know many of the recipes by heart), and to have my very own cookbook sitting open on the kitchen bench is such a buzz! Each time I flick through the pages I get butterflies from seeing it in real life, and I suspect that feeling will continue for quite some time yet.
Homegrown Kitchen will be officially launched and available in retail stores around New Zealand from the Monday 10th April 2017. Today I wanted to give you a little preview into the 316 pages and let you know I now have pre-orders available – many of you have been asking! Closer to the release date I will share more in-depth details of the book contents and recipes, and for those in Nelson I will have a book signing event early April (date to be confirmed). I will personally sign every book ordered (please include a special note if required), and the first 100 orders will receive an organic cotton cheesecloth* as a small thank-you gift for supporting my work and passion (the cloth will come in handy for some of the recipes in the book!). *UPDATE: this gift has now finished, the cheesecloth’s were all snapped up within hours!
I sincerely hope you will enjoy cooking from my new cookbook and refer to it often. It feels like a big leap to reveal the book after 2 1/2 years of writing, photographing and production. The book is full of recipes I cook regularly combined with the knowledge I have gained from 18 years studying, researching, cooking and teaching others how to eat well. I would love your help spreading the word, please share with your family and friends. Thank-you!
To celebrate I made a humble pie. A simple blackberry pie made from freshly harvested berries encased in a tender spelt and walnut pastry – simple is how I cook most of the time so it seemed right to share this pie today. I know I mentioned this before, but one of the best moves I made in the garden was to plant 3 thorn-less blackberry vines. They are low maintenance, easy to harvest (no thorns in sight!), and an incredibly heavy producer. Most years I harvest around 6-8kg berries and what we can’t eat fresh are frozen for winter baking and smoothies. In late autumn, once they have stopped producing, I cut back the fruited runners and tie the non-fruited branches (which will fruit next season) to the training wires. If you are looking for a low-maintenance berry then keep an eye out for thornless-blackberry, you won’t be sorry! Let’s celebrate with pie…
I used freshly cracked walnuts for the pie crust, however, any ground nuts would be fine. We buy a large bag of walnuts in their shell to last the year. Left un-cracked they stay fresh for many months stored in a cool cupboard (check out how I crush them here). I used spelt flour for the flour component, which I love to use for baking, although it is little more fiddly to roll and lattice with a lower gluten-content than wheat. I have also made this pastry recipe successfully with gluten-free flour and have included the substitutions below.
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup white wheat or spelt flour
1/2 cup wholemeal wheat or spelt flour
OR for gluten-free use 1 cup gluten-free flour (or 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 cup buckwheat flour + 1/4 cup tapioca flour)
1 tablespoon sugar (I used rapadura)
100g cold butter, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 free-range egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons iced water
approx. 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
milk for brushing the pastry
- Grind the walnuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the flour until finely ground. Add the remaining flour and sugar and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse 6 times until the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces. Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of iced water and pulse another 6 times. If the mixture holds together when pressed it ready. If not, add another 1-2 teaspoons of iced water and pulse to combine. Tip the pastry into a bowl and quickly shape into a flat disk. Cover and chill for 1 hour to firm up.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 25cm pie dish.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge. Dust the bench and rolling pin with flour and roll the pastry out until 4mm thick. Cut out a large circle to fit into the dish and gently lift, using the rolling pin, into the pie dish. Carefully press the pastry into the dish, if it tears a little simply press together again. Trim the edges and gather the off-cuts in a ball and chill. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Blind bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven.
- Evenly spread the blackberries over the crust and sprinkle with sugar if the berries are tart (this is optional). Roll the remaining pastry and cut into long strips to drape over the berries in a crisscross lattice. Brush with milk (any milk will do). Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden. Cool a little before serving warm with yogurt or cream.