Release Date: September 2016
Synopsis: 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 Moorland (game and herbs), Garden (tomatoes, salads, soft fruits), Farm (pork, dairy, honey), Field (rye, barley, wheat, oats), Seashore (crab, seaweed, oysters), Orchard (apples, pears, cherries), Harbour (fish and seafood), and Woodland (mushrooms, damsons, blackberries), Gill gently guides the reader through simple recipes, with no need for obscure ingredients or complicated cooking.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.
When it comes to rustic, real food, Gill Meller is hands-down one of the most knowledgable, inspiring, unassuming and respectful chefs out there. His dishes reach out from the TV screen or recipe book and make you realise just how gratifying it can be to cook with ingredients found, foraged, bought or otherwise derived from an ethical and sustainable source.
With the recent release of his new cookbook, ‘Gather’, Gill offers a plethora of new, exciting dishes to quite literally get our teeth into. Focusing on different environments (Farm, Orchard, Moor, Seashore, Field, Harbour, Garden & Woodland), Gill takes the reader on a culinary journey, using some of the ingredients you can find in that particular setting.
“Tracks and furrows in fields, stamped and shaped. Curved, swept stone forms make standing boundaries. Corrugated sheets on sheets make shelter. Lines in the earth run with water” – Gill’s opening paragraph for the ‘Farm’ section, which instantly immerses you into the environment.
Take the ‘Field’ section, for example; it is broken up into 5 sub-sections; Rye, Oats, Wheat, Barley and Corn – all of which you can find in the field that Gill then uses as the base for the recipes. From breads to cakes, biscuits, crackers and pasta, you’ll find new ways to take a simple ingredient and simply elevate it to a dish so much larger than its parts.
The ‘Chocolate rye brownies with bay & almonds’ recipe is a fine example of Gill’s rustic, slightly healthier take on a classic. Using a rye flour and having almonds with their skins on not only seems more natural, but it takes away that element of feeling like your food has had to undergo a seemingly unnecessary process. The ‘Oat plum breakfast cake’ is another winner – cake for breakfast! The cheesecake like filling is balanced by a healthy fruit and seed base and top, with the poppy seeds adding a satisfying crunch. “You might not make this delicious cake for breakfast every day” Gill writes… You know what? I just may!
The ‘Woodland’ section also deserves a spotlight as there are a number of dishes that will have you positively drooling over the pages. The ‘Cobnut & celeriac soup with kale, parsley & olive oil’ is among the finest soups I’ve ever eaten. It’s rich and earthy and the cobnuts are a real revelation, adding a meaty element.
Don’t let the (beautiful) photos of the finished dishes shake your confidence, every recipe we have tried so far is surprisingly easy to make, and pretty much all the ingredients are easy to obtain – no shavings of unicorn horn or chickens teeth to be found here at all!
Being totally honest, there are a couple of Gill’s recipes that include an ingredient that I would naturally not include due to preference; the bay leaf in the brownies for example, but through these recipes I’ve learned to throw some trust and credit his way, as the finished product tastes so good that you cannot imagine it without the element you had a hang-up about in the first place! The real lesson is to try things and give the recipes a go. Squirrel, for example, may not be your first meat of choice, but there are three recipes in ‘Gather’ that will have you a fully paid-up convert.
Without wishing to sound like a Marks And Spencer commercial, this is more than just a cookbook – in fact it feels like a piece of art; from the glorious photography, down to the almost poetic introductions to each section, ‘Gather’ is incredibly classy, whilst having its boots firmly in the soil.
Buy Gather on Amazon.co.uk from just £17.00.