Courtyard Kitchen an inspiring book by Natalie Boog »

Provides plenty of recipes and growing tips for herbs and potted fruits

By Sara Schwarz
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Courtyard Kitchen by Natalie Boog

Courtyard Kitchen by Natalie Boog

 

One of the first things anyone in my family does when moving to a new home is to plant a few herbs. Whether it be a bit of mint in an old pot or a new rosemary bush, there is just something irresistible about having herbs around that makes anywhere new feel a little more like a home.

There is also something special in being able to pop out the backdoor for a sprig of thyme, a chilli or lemon, thus making even the most basic meal just a little tastier.

Natalie Boog is a professional photographer with a love of growing herbs and cooking with them.  In her book, Courtyard Kitchen, she combines these loves, the result being a very bright and stylish cookbook choc-full of tantalising recipes.

Ms Boog has cleverly selected six popular and versatile herbs, along with lemons, chilli and strawberries, and each has a chapter dedicated to it as the hero ingredient.

It is obvious that a lot of care, thought and love has gone into this book’s design and layout. As you would expect from a book by a photographer, Courtyard Kitchen is full of luscious photos of potted herbs and mouth-watering meals. She even makes a group of empty glass jars look enticing! I don’t think any other recipe book has quite managed to capture the feeling of spring and summer as this one does (a tempting thing in winter!).

I really enjoyed browsing each chapter and discovering new and exciting uses for the plethora of parsley, mint, thyme and rosemary that inhabits my garden. The recipes themselves are a delightfully approachable mix of fresh and flavoursome. Alongside traditional favourites such as Basil Pesto and Mint Sauce, sit more exciting recipes including a Chocolate Basil Cake, Lemon Thyme Biscuits and Beetroot Sorbet with Mint.

I’m also very keen to try the Tabouleh with Pomegranate in warmer months.

I’m often very disappointed by commercial curry pastes and sauces as I find the sodium, sugar and preservative content to often be unpalatable. As such I was delighted to discover some excellent recipes for home made pastes and sauces including green and red curry and korma curry pastes, chilli, sweet chilli and tomato sauces.

I also enjoyed the introductory chapter ‘Getting Started’, that entails some friendly advice about how to plan your garden and get the best out of your plants. This includes a brief overview of what each likes and dislikes in regards to sun, water, fertilising etc. So handy.

It then goes on to describe best storage and preserving methods, which is also very useful when you discover a forest of herbs has overtaken your courtyard in the warm months.

No matter the size of someone’s garden or balcony, Courtyard Kitchen would be a lovely housewarming gift for any age and stage. Having read it through twice now, I can’t wait for my new lemon tree to flourish and have already made plans to include room for strawberries, new chilli plants and of course, lots of basil in spring.

 

Courtyard Kitchen by Natalie Boog is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, NSW, 2015; hc 240pp) and retails in Australia for A$39.99.

Available at good bookshops, online and via the publisher here »

About the author: Natalie Boog is self-taught home cook, her recipes are tried and tested, simple and full of flavour. She is an experienced food photographer who has shot a range of cookbooks, and freelances for Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living. Running a fruit and vegetable co-op prompted her to write a food blog and from that the idea for this book was born.

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June 11th, 2015
 
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