10 January 2009

Mediterranean and French Country Food

Today's cookbook is a two-in-one volume by Elizabeth David, Mediterranean and French Country Food. David is one of my favorite writers, who just happens to write cookery books. I am not alone. When Italian Food was published late in 1954 it sold out in three weeks. Evelyn Waugh, the author of Brideshead Revisited, reviewed the book for the Sunday Times stating Italian Food was one of the two books he had most enjoyed that year.

David is an old fashioned recipe writer. She tells you how to put the recipe together. There are no long lists of ingredients in chronological order. No single recipes per page. Each recipe is taught to the reader in the same way one would learn to cook from a trusted friend.

Her recipe for for pesto shows David's style.


This is the garlic and basil butter added to soups and used as a sauce for pasta and for fish in the Nice district and in Genoa.
Two medium-sized cloves of garlic, 1 1/2 - 2 ozs. of butter, about six sprigs of fresh basil, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
Pound the garlic in a mortar, then add the basil, then the butter and the cheese.
It is also, of course, made with olive oil instead of butter with the addition of pine nuts and makes the sauce more like a thick puree.
To serve with spaghetti or lasagne, this version is better, but for gnocchi a la romaine it is better with butter.

I am fond of recipes that outline the instructions and give basic amounts. The rest is up to you! I especially like this recipe because here at Doe Run Farm, we make pesto in bulk.

So if you just need a tablespoon of pestou for a soup or a gallon of pesto for the winter, give Elizabeth David a try. Aside from being a fine writer, David is also a fascinating subject. Two fine biographies of David have been published. Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David by Artemis Cooper and Elizabeth David by Lisa Chaney.

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