Alex Elliott-Howery is the co-founder of what started as a neighbourhood café in inner Sydney and has grown to become a thriving food community where Sabine Spindler is the head chef. Cornersmith’s focus is on making everything from scratch using local, in-season produce and, at the same time, reducing food waste.
The authors explain that the book’s emphasis on vegetables arises from their belief that the future of food lies in this direction with protein – which is expensive in both monetary and environmental terms – playing a lesser role. In working towards this goal, the recipes in the book provide many ideas on how to enhance the flavour of local, perhaps even homegrown, vegetables in interesting salads and to preserve abundant harvests by preserving and pickling them to enable us to enjoy them out of season. The book is very well styled with each recipe having a picture on the facing page of the finished dish or its preparation.
The chapters of the book are divided into the four seasons reflecting their focus on using what is in season as it is tastier, more abundant and thus cheaper. Looking at the Winter section, I found a recipe for Barbecued Cauliflower served with topped with breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon zest toasted in butter, almonds and slivers of red onion. One can see that this would be a hearty meal, not just a vegetable side dish. Also in the Winter chapter is a recipe for the perennial favourite of Pickled Onions which will be just right in time for a springtime ploughman’s platter.
The cookbook also includes details on making herbed vinegars and concludes with lots of ideas on salad dressings and general pickling information. At Cornersmith they work hard to reduce waste, using perfectly good food that doesn’t meet the ridiculous cosmetic standards of the big 2 supermarkets such as rescuing 130kg of organic strawberries destined for landfill.
The book provides lots of information on how to reduce waste in our own kitchens through seasonal cooking, pickling and preserving. There is even a recipe for Quick Kitchen‑Scrap Pickle using whatever’s left over in the crisper draw as well as the stems of veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli or kale which will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks and can be used to add flavour and variety to other cooked veggies and salads.
I decided to try out an unusual recipe for Pickled Rhubarb using red wine vinegar, ginger, peppercorns and orange peel. At the top of the page the book sets out the cooking time, preparation time, number of serves or jars, and how long the food can be stored as relevant. Ingredients are clearly listed with metric, imperial and cup measures with the method in a separate column. The recipe was clearly written and easy to follow but I can’t comment on the flavour as it takes at least 2 weeks to develop. It’s suggested as an accompaniment to ham.
Speaking of Christmas, Cornersmith Salads & Pickles would make a great present for any foodies on your gift list.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 9
Released by: Murdoch Books
Release Date: October 2017