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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CAFE FOOD AT HOME (article first published : 2002-07-31)

With the vibrant cosmopolitan flair of a Capetonian chef, Gael Oberholzer has produced a winner cookbook in Café Food at Home. An experienced restaurateur and chef, Gael combines the tantalizing tastes of gourmet cooking with the simple ingredients of home-cooked favourites.

With her focus on simplicity, Gael shows one how to concoct innovative and delicious dishes using basic ingredients and fresh herbs. The ‘essentials’ section provides recipes for all her “basics” including flour tortillas, tomato sauce, home-made Thai sauce and fiery Moroccan paste.

Gael transforms an ordinary meal like bangers and mash into a gourmet treat tinged with complementary herbs and spices. Even a boring beef burger becomes the starting point for a number of tasty, inventive toppings and sauces. The selection of vegetarian recipes includes my favourite, chillied butternut wrapped in phyllo pastry on mushroom sauce.

A section is dedicated to a range of imaginative fillings for Gael’s trendy wraps and tortillas. These include tempting combinations of mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, olive pesto, roasted vegetables and creamed spinach.

The chef also includes a few pages of hints and tips to aid you in the kitchen.

Gael’s passion for good food is captured in the specially commissioned photography by Craig Fraser and Warren Heath. The full-colour and sepia images show Gael at work and enhance the emphasis she places on aesthetics and garnishing.

I found the recipes easy to follow and the ingredients were accessible. Gael prompts the reader to incorporate their own ideas, experiment with the recipes and make them their own. Café Food encourages even the most novice cook to tie those apron strings and start cooking.

Café Food is published by Struik and retails at R129.95 – Anita Ballantyne




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