Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pipi at Home - Recipes by Alexandra Tylee/Photography by Richard Brimer

For anyone who's zipped through Havelock North, you'll know that Pipi café is a welcome distraction from the surrounding vineyards and farmer's markets.  Set in a Victorian style house that could well do with a lick of paint, with blankets for artworks and an overgrown English country garden out back it's shabby chic and Kiwi rustic is the main attraction - that and Tylee's also rustic but wholesome food.  This is not her first book but it's probably her most useful and accessible. 
With a brood of young whippersnappers herself there's a big emphasis on family food that can be produced quickly and will satisfy most palettes around the big scrubbed farm table.  Potato Hash cakes, for example are not very difficult (in fact, I made them up today for brunch with only half a glance at the ingredients and method). There's an old fashioned cornbread recipe that approximates the Southern version, with courgettes for added texture.  And there's a big emphasis on puddings.  Jamie Oliver will love this section, with references back to the meals our gran used to make.  Actually, the need to slow down and take time over a meal is inherent in many dishes here.  For those of us who spent way too much time in Ohakune, there's a carrot steamed pudding, and a blueberry tart (with cream of course), and an enticing chamomile panna cotta (which I NEED to try!).  The hazelnut roulade with chocolate mouse and cherries.  My Granma called that chocolate rolly-polly.  in fact there's an element of chic-granny in all Tylee's food.  The other theme is about using what's seasonal, like fruits and veges that are only available at certain times of the year.  Tylee mentions that Havelock North's abundant cornucopia of fresh is her inspiration.  One imagines she has suppliers lining up with pine boxes of apples, pears, grapes, nuts and other goodies.   And that's all well and good, but not all of us are so lucky.  I mean, in Wellington getting hold of a cheap, plentiful supply of figs, for example is nigh on impossible! 

Alexandra Tylee
What is accessible is the down to earth is her thought process.  For example, she's aware that not everyone is into fancy dining so like River Cottage Hugh, she trundles down to the local hall, in this case in Poukawa, to whzz up a 'Yoga Lunch' - a good excuse to road test some mostly gluten free, sugar free food like a Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw (very yummy), a Quinoa and Smoked fish salad with tahini and coconut cream (unusual) and a roast carrot and cashew nut salad.  The accompanying photos in this section suggest that the clientele to impress were not the standard ladies who lunch but the midweek blue rinse brigade.  At least they'd be no complaints about the honey cheese cake if the sausage rolls and cucumber sandwiches went missing in action! 

Pipi is famous for its unusual pizza toppings but there's only a couple here under the title 'Pipi Truck'.  This is the cafe's side venture that gets wheeled out during event like concerts at Mission Estate.  The two on offer here are so simple there's really no need for a recipe.  One is a mix of roast peaches, prosciutto, rocket and fresh mozzarella.  The other is Figs, blue cheese and bacon .  Vegos need not apply! At the back f the book are som very cool 'Extras' such as beef bone broth, cherry tomato relish, celery salt (for seasoning) and a herbed butter called Cafe' De Paris which is awesome on steak and steamed veges like peppers and courgettes.  There's also a few basic which are straight out f the Edmonds' and, I feel a bit pointless without a better description of what to expect.  There's pizza dough the way Pipi makes it - which is the way I've always made it.  So nothing learned here.  And Flaky Pastry.  Which I learned at school and now can't be arsed making, though if I did it would be like this.

Like Jamie Oliver's book, pictures tell stories about the food and the cook.  There are lots of close ups of Tylee's family and a smattering of daily chores like wood chopping plus the occasional scene of her with the kids baking up a storm.   On the whole, photographer Richard Brimer chose to avoid the usual 'chef and the kids' clichés because we all know that mostly the little blighters never stay in one place long enough to finish any one task s any photos that were take on them kneading dough or whisking mayo would be clearly contrived.

Overall, Pipi at Home is a book of new and old classics.  There's nothing really new in it - more some affirmation and a bit of love for anyone who's a halfway decent cook wanting a book that's not too 'chef-ish' but still shappy-chic enough to make the every day and ordinary fare feel like you've just nipped down to your local café.  And judging by some of the photos of half rotting sheds and un-weeded gardens with strewn blankets, scones on the patio with tea in old 'best china' porcelain, a secret excuse not to mow the lawns.

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