Friends Food Family: Essential Recipes, Tips and Secrets for the Modern Hostess, from LibertyLondonGirl is a fun, tip-filled cookbook. The hardcover book by Sasha Wilkins is published by Quadrille and distributed in the US and Canada by Chronicle Books. It was released September 1, 2015 and is $24.95 ($18.60 at Amazon.com using the link below).
I found Friends Food Family to be an eclectic mix of recipes, entertaining tips for those who don’t have time to be Martha Stewart and travel tips for finding everything from great cafés to flea markets around the world. I think my favorite tip sections are “Wonderful Places to Drink Tea and Eat Cake” featuring cafés in New York, London, Berlin and San Francisco and “Utterly Addictive European Cheese” featuring five delicious cheeses.
According to Wilkins, who blogs online at LibertyLondonGirl.com, the book “has been written for the modern cook who doesn’t do pointless garnishes or napkin origami, and who likes nothing more than bringing people together around a table — or a picnic rug — preferring to enjoy guests’ company rather than sweat away in the kitchen.
That is exactly what I loved most about this book. The simplicity. Everything is easy to make and uses ingredients most of us have on hand, or that we can pick up with a quick trip to the grocery store. There’s everything from the perfect burger to salads in jars, buttermilk pancakes and French toast. The book is separated into nine categories:
- Breakfasts, Brunches, and Burgers
- Food to Eat when you Come in from the Cold
- Salads and Food for Hot Summer Days
- Kitchen Suppers
- Weekend Entertaining
- Food for the Great Outdoors
- Sweet Things
- Cakes and Afternoon Tea
Below are a couple of sample recipes from Friends Food Family by Sasha Wilkins. They are from the first section in the book, “Breakfasts, Brunches, and Burgers”.
Pomegranate, Plum, and Yogurt Parfaits
- 1 pomegranate
- 2¼ cups [500 g] natural yogurt
- 1 cup [100 g] rolled oats
- 3 TBSP sunflower seeds
- 4 ripe plums, chopped
- Pick 4 pretty water glasses.
- The quickest way to remove seeds from a pomegranate is to halve the fruit first. Then take a wooden spoon and bang the outside of each half over a bowl; the seeds will fall out.
- In each glass, place a layer of chopped plums, yogurt, oats, and sunflower seeds followed by more yogurt and plums, then top with more oats, sunflower seeds, and the pomegranate seeds. Done.
- Leave for 5 to 10 minutes (but overnight would be wonderful) if you can, to let the flavors mingle. If you like, add a drizzle of honey. Your call.
Wilkins highlights several burgers. In addition to a burger with ground meat, there are options with corn, mushrooms, vegetables and a gluten-free quinoa burger. Below are the Corn Fritter Burger and the Cauliflower and Quinoa Burger.
Corn Fritter Burger
- ¾ cup [100 g] all-purpose flour
- ½ cup [50 g] chickpea flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Large pinch of salt
- 1 grind black pepper
- 2 generous pinches of paprika (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup [150 ml] milk
- 1½ cups [280 g] corn kernels
- Small handful flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves, very finely chopped (optional)
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil, per 2 fritters
- Sift the flours and baking powder into a large bowl.
- Add the salt, pepper, and paprika, if using.
- Beat the eggs together with the milk, and add slowly to the flour, constantly beating to form a smooth batter.
- Add the corn, and the parsley or cilantro.
- Set a large frying pan over medium-high heat, adding 1 TBSP vegetable oil.
- Once hot, add 2 TBSP mixture to the pan for each fritter. (Cook 2 at a time)
- Smooth the mixture out, and after about 2 minutes, when the edges are bubbling, flip over to cook the other side. (The top should still be west when flipped.)
- Press down on the cooked top side with a spatula to ensure the inside of the fritter cooks, otherwise, you will end up with a crispy outside and raw middle.
- Check the underside, and if necessary, flip again until crisp on each side.
- Remove from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels. It’s best served with caramelized onions, yogurt, and lettuce in a soft roll.
Cauliflower and Quinoa Burger (Gluten-Free)
Makes 6 to 8
- 1 cup [175 g] quinoa
- ½ head of cauliflower (9 oz [250 g]), cut into florets
- White and green parts of 4 scallions, chopped
- Handful flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup [50 g] grated Parmesan cheese
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaping cup [100 g] chickpea flour, plus extra for dusting
- 4 eggs, beaten together
- Plenty of sunflower oil, for frying
- Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions, drain, and leave to cool.
- Roughly chop the cauliflower and reduce to fine rubble in a food processor, using the pulse button.
- Pour the cauliflower rubble into a large mixing bowl and add the chopped scallions, herbs, Parmesan, and lemon zest.
- Generously season with salt and black pepper.
- Sift in the chickpea flour and mix it all together with your hands.
- Add the cooled quinoa to the mixture and mix again.
- Pour over the beaten eggs and really thoroughly combine. You will end up with a very, very wet mixture, but do not be disheartened. The egg is necessary to bind the mixture: as it cooks, the proteins solidify, and stop the cake falling apart.
- Pour a generous amount of flour onto a dinner or shallow soup plate.
- Take a handful of the wet mixture, form into a patty in your hands and place in the flour.
- Very gently lift and turn it over, so that both sides are thickly covered in flour.
- Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and add 1 TBSP oil.
- When it is smoking, slide your first 2 patties into the oil. Do not be tempted to cook more than 2 at a time, as they will lower the temperature of the oil.
- Press down gently with the back of a spatula.
- Flip over very carefully after about 2 to 3 minutes to cook the other sides. You may need to flip again to ensure an even browning.
- When cooked, remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Each pair takes about 4 minutes to cook.
These are wonderful with a poached egg on top, with a fresh tomato chutney; but best of all I like them sandwiched in a bread roll with some red onion, guacamole, and cherry tomatoes.
About Sasha Wilkins
Most fashion editors don’t have eight years as a silver service waitress under their (stylish) belt, but Sasha Wilkins, who started her publishing career at Condé Nast as a junior assistant before ending up as executive style editor at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ magazine in New York, has never been drawn to a linear career path. Which is why she gave it all up to launch the lifestyle, fashion and food blog, LibertyLondonGirl.com. Nine years later, it’s read in 138 countries.
Meanwhile, Wilkins’ journalism has appeared in publications around the world including Harper’s Bazaar, The Sunday Times, The Wall Street Journal, Elle, and Condé Nast Traveller, and she continues to post on LibertyLondonGirl every day. She lives in London with a grumpy sausage dog.