|The Bowler's spicy prawn balls with Vietnamese vegetable noodle soup|
I went through my vast collection of cookbooks and weeded out a core selection of the books that give me the most amount of pleasure, as well as inspiration. Those books that were frankly a bit pedestrian, whether writing or photography were evicted. Anything tied into some TV show (which I had very likely not watched to begin with) or by chefs I don't warm to (yes you, Gordon Ramsay, and you, Gary Rhodes) were out. My collection of books from the 50's and 60's which I had bought for amusement or bemusement were out too.
|the Bowler's uncooked spicy prawn ball mix |
with chilli, ginger and coriander
I took quite a clinical approach. If I had never cooked from the book, it was banished too. Obviously this doesn't include the books I regard as reference books such as Dorothy Hartley's Food in England, or books by food writers such as MFK Fisher. But everything else was sold or donated to charity. I was left with a hard core of cook books by my favourite authors, including the usual suspects - Jane Grigson, Nigel Slater, HFW, Rose Prince et al. The rest, as Nigel might say, was toast.
However, over the past few years, my food library has started to grow again, but this is because I have now fallen into the habit of try-before-you-buy. I borrow books from my local library for a good browse and a bit of a road-test, to see if they are genuine keepers.
So my library of books now contains about 10 library books at any given time of possible new inclusions. Dominic at Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipe challenge this month uses his new Random Recipe generator widget and was a bit of a curiosity, because as it turned out, I was forced (not unwillingly as it turns out) to try a recipe from one of my recent library acquisitions (book number 139 if you're interested, Dom!) the Bowler's Meatball Cookbook (Ballsy Food, Ballsy Flavours.)
Jez Felwick (aka The Meatball Magnate) and The Bowler has been one of the stars of the London street food scene and now he has a book out with a compilation of some of his favourite meatball recipes, together with dips, sauces and side dishes and some rather good spice mixes.
You would be forgiven for thinking that a book on meat-, fish- or veggie balls from someone who runs a food truck might be a little niche. But I think that is doing the book an injustice. There is something for everyone. Gorgeous side dishes and dip recipes as well as some great tips on how to make the perfect meatball, such as baking rather than frying them (which means they are less likely to fall apart while cooking!)
It's a great book although perhaps one for the boys, since there are rather too many ball jokes, that perhaps guys will find more appealing!
But apart from the awful jokes there are some great recipes - it is certainly a good book for the summer, as I would think that all of the ball recipes would make perfect party food - can you imagine a party out in the garden with 10 or so different meatballs laid out on a garden table with lots of dips and plenty of wine. My idea of heaven! Check out some of the recipes here.
Now Dom's challenge is that you should open the book randomly - which was fine - I got the prawn balls, with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, shallots and fish sauce . . . but they needed a little extra padding, so I added (hope you don't mind, Dom) another recipe from the book which was the Vietnamese noodle soup, a fragrant chicken stock braised with a cinnamon stick, chill and ginger, which Jez Felwick has with pork meatballs but I think worked beautifully with the prawns, which had been eked out with a little extra sausage meat. Sheesh, I am feeling positively south east Asian!