Limoncello and Linen Water, Tessa Kiros

by Catherine Jones - Friday November 9, 2012 9:11 am

If Jamie Oliver’s the cheeky Essex lad, Nigella’s the sultry temptress and Heston’s the mad scientist, Tessa Kiros is like the Kath Kidston of the culinary world – turning twee into trendy.

In her book Limoncello and Linen Water Kiros has delivered an ‘ode to the matriarchal figures’ in her life especially her Sicilian mother-in-law Wilma. Born in London and raised in South Africa but married to a Sicilian, Kiros’ aim is to capture the spirit of the women in her adopted Tuscan homeland who’ve passed recipes and advice down from generation to generation. So classic Italian dishes like Collo Ripieno or Pasta Al Forno Siciliana are presented alongside tips – ‘use milk as a shoe polish’, ‘pour potato water on weeds to kill them’ – and old wives’ tales like ‘keep a wild chestnut in your pocket to prevent colds.’

The book opens, rather oddly, with a ‘recipe’ on how to fold sheets and make lavender-scented linen water. Aimed at women (the book’s even got a pink, velvet book mark) some might find this all a bit patronising but the book’s rescued from being quaint or old-fashioned by the gorgeous photography. You don’t just want to eat the food – Golden focaccia studded with strawberries like rubies, a creamy prawn risotto crowned with a sprig of lavender – you end up lusting after the vintage glassware, floral teapots and standing bath filled with rose petals. Like Kath Kidston, famous for her floral prints, in this book Kiros has transformed nostalgia into on-trend.

Ordered by the rooms where you’d store your ingredients (the pantry, snack box, veg patch and dining room), Tessa jumps on the bandwagon of being a spending-savvy chef, offering tips on what to do with the leftovers. So egg whites from the mascarpone lavender ice-cream can be used in Nonna’s cake, the broth from the trout with tarragon salsa verde can be used in her fish risotto.

And along with the classics, because Kiros has borrowed recipes from her friends and family, she serves up a few unusual gems, like the radiccio cake (a variation on carrot cake) and the Torta Mimosa, a yolk-yellow cake topped with flowers that represent women’s strength. She even waxes lyrical about a lemon cake recipe that came off the back of a condensed milk tin!

The recipes have easy to follow instructions and, with the exception of an ice-cream maker, don’t require any technical wizardry. Kiros’ enthusiasm for each dish is infectious and the book lives up to its subtitle – a trousseau of treasures. I can’t wait to get started on one of her recipes and following Kiros’ advice even the threat of a cold won’t stop me – thanks to the wild chestnut in my apron pocket!

ISBN: 174266878X

Buy now at Amazon

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