If you are my vintage, then there’s a good chance the first cookbook you ever owned was the Australian Women’s Weekly Original Cookbook. First published in 1970, my edition was published in 1977 with my book being a 1988 reprint. So half my lifetime ago I bought my first cookbook. After that I bought quite a few of the Women’s Weekly cookbooks, you know the ones, Thai Food Made Easy, Indian, French, et al. These are now all all gone courtesy of a recent trip to the Salvos but I couldn’t let go of the original.
The first non Women’s Weekly cookbook I bought was Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This came out in 1992 and is a compilation of two previous works. No photos, a few sparse sketches, this remains one of my favourite cookbooks, if not my favourite. It covers all elements of Italian cooking and the instructions for each dish are very thorough.
Last night’s dinner was a recipe from each, both very simple, both quite delicious. First up was roast chicken with lemons from Marcella. This essentially a chook with 2 small lemons placed in the cavity. That’s it. There is a full page of instructions for this recipe – an indication of the attention to detail in this book. I served this with roast pumpkin and onions, potatoes roasted in duck fat and peas.
After that, lemon delicious from the Weekly. Beat 3 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until light and creamy. Beat in 1 cup milk, 1 tbsp self raising flour, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp lemon rind and a pinch of salt. Beat 3 egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 1tbsp of sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved. Fold this into the lemon mixture. Pour into an appropriate oven proof dish, stand in a shallow pan of water and bake in a moderate oven for 50 to 60 mins.