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Monday, December 2, 2013


Food for the emotions. A pleasure to pick up and read as well as to use regularly. (Review by Cherry MacIldowie)

Following on from Alida Ryder’s first book Simple and Delicious, Cook From the Heart encompasses her abilities as a cook (foremost), food stylist, photographer, award-winning blogger and the mother of twins.

All the photography in the book, barring the front cover taken by Albie Bredenhann, is Ryder’s own and I found the straightforward portrayal of the dishes refreshingly “under-styled”. A case in point is the picture of the Beer and Bacon Mac which looks to be slightly burnt on top. The recipes, however, look like real food should.

Unusually, this cookbook is divided into eight chapters with each focusing on specific emotions. For example: Happy, Melancholy, Anger, etc. Starters, light meals, mains, sides and sweet treats are included in each chapter. Ryder’s cooking style is influenced by her emotions. She states in the Introduction that food can fix almost anything. You are comforted by food, healed, rewarded - and even bribed - and it is enjoyed if you are celebrating. Or thrown together if you are being lazy.

By and large, the list of ingredients in each recipe is uncomplicated and the method of cooking is easy and quick to follow. Each recipe has its own page and accompanying picture as well as Ryder’s informative comments or anecdote.

Her portions are very generous and I enjoyed the risotto I made the other night, although plenty of time is required when making risotto.

The Anger chapter includes some really hectic use of chillies, but also a sinful Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Nostalgia.  Being of a certain age, it recalled memories of my own childhood and even today, I produce similar dishes that my children and grandchildren have grown up with and have in turn become their favourites. Such as the classic Avocado Ritz and cucumber sandwiches which I have brought up to date by adding my own “twists”.

The last chapter is entitled Lazy with a picture of a gorgeous sleeping tabby cat. Ryder says she would win an award for being the “Best Lazy Person”. For her, leftovers are perfect ingredients for making lazy food. What rather surprises me, though, is that she has so much in the way of leftovers!  I mean 4-6 cups of Bolognese Sauce?  No doubt she makes double the amount so that she can have all that extra ‘left over’.  Maybe that is a good hint for the upcoming Festive Season – cook lots in one go so you can enjoy the Lazy Days.

Cook From the Heart is jam-packed with everything from Apple Pie with Salted Caramel to Yellowtail Ceviche with Radish and Cucumber, and is one of those recipe books that is a pleasure to pick up and read as well as being able to be used regularly.

Cook From the Heart by Alida Ryder is published in paperback by Penguin ISBN 978-0-1435-3844-8 Recommended Price R250.00. – Cherry MacIldowie