Cookbook Review: Gather

Gather is a cookbook that celebrates simplicity and nature, both in ingredients and cooking styles. Head Chef at River Cottage for 10 years, Gill Meller showcases 120 brand new recipes inspired by the landscapes in which he lives and works.

Featuring chapters on foods from the Farm (pork, dairy, honey), Seashore (crab, seaweed, oysters), Garden (tomatoes, salads, soft fruits), Orchard (apples, pears, quince), Field (rye, barley, wheat, oats), Woodland (mushrooms, damsons, blackberries), Moor (venison and trout), and Harbour (fish and seafood), Gather is a true celebration of British seasonal cooking at its best.

With great food at its heart, Gather is the most contemporary of cookbooks, with photography that captures a year of the best cooking and eating.

Gather: Everyday seasonal recipes from a year in our landscapes is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Chocolate Rye Brownies with Bay & Almonds

Photograph by Andrew Montgomery

Serves 8 to 10

Rye flour and good chocolate are extraordinarily delicious together. I often use rye in place of all-purpose flour in my baking—it brings its delicate roasted, nutty notes to chocolate cakes, fondants, and cookies, and plays off the bitter qualities of dark chocolate in a new and wonderful way. These rye brownies also contain aromatic bay, which accentuates and permeates the chocolate-and-rye marriage with its distinct perfume. A crunchy, sugary almond topping finishes off the brownies with an amazing extra texture.

 

7oz [200g] good-quality dark chocolate, at least 70 percent cocoa solids, broken into pieces

Heaping ¾ cup [180g] unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing

2 pinches of fine sea salt

4 eggs

½ cup [100g] golden superfine sugar

6½ Tbsp soft brown sugar

1½ cups [150g] light rye flour, plus extra for dusting

¾ cup [100g] whole, skinon almonds

Finely grated zest of ½ orange

¼ cup [50g] golden granulated sugar

6 to 8 bay leaves

 

Preheat the oven to 325°F [160°C].

 

Grease and lightly flour a medium baking pan (about 8-by-12-in [20-by-30-cm]). Melt the chocolate pieces and butter, with 1 pinch of the salt, in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of very gently simmering water for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the chocolate is smooth and delicious-looking. (Don’t let the bowl touch the water.) Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

Separate 1 egg. Divide the white in half as best you can. In a large bowl, use an electric whisk to beat the remaining eggs, as well as the yolk and ½ egg white of the separated egg, with the superfine and brown sugars until light, airy, pale, and fluffy. Reserve the remaining ½ egg white.

Beat the whisked egg mixture into the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the rye flour until the batter is fully combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

To make the topping, whisk the reserved egg white in a bowl until light and airy, then fold in the almonds, orange zest, granulated sugar, and remaining pinch of salt. Tumble together until the almonds are well-coated and the mixture is fully combined.

Spoon the almond topping evenly over the brownies, then dot the bay leaves over the top, pushing the base of each leaf a little way into the batter. Bake the brownies for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are cracked and firm on top, but gooey in the middle. Remove from the oven, and leave to cool completely in the pan, then cut into squares. Serve individually with cream, ice cream, or thick, plain yogurt; or as they are with a cup of tea or coffee.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Quadrille Publishing.

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