FRESH & I
f you have seen any of Annabel in a way that was subliminally healthy and
Langbein The Free Range Cook shows not have treats every day.”
on television, you will have a very good Annabel’s love of food and cooking
idea of Annabel Langbein’s stance on food can be traced to her mother’s inﬂuence.
and produce. In the ﬂesh, her passion is Annabel even says that her mother
no less keen; in fact, it is even more so as knew Annabel was a cook before she did.
her obviously strong feelings towards a “My mother was a fantastic cook,” she
The Free Range Cook simple approach are conveyed with every conﬁdes. “She was a Home Economist
Annabel Langbein word, every mannerism, every shot of
but chose to stay home. My dad had a
job in the city but he’d come home and
shares her food “This book [Annabel Langbein The Free get changed, then go out into his vegie
Range Cook] is very much a slice of my garden and my mother would make this
philosophy and talks life,” she explains. “It was shot at our little really gorgeous meal out of whatever he
cabin down at the lake [in New Zealand’s brought in.”
about her passion Central Otago] where we have a very Annabel says her mother was also very
for fresh produce simple set up — not a lot of technology.
What I love about being there is the very
artistic and would take the time to create
an atmosphere or ritual around dining. “It
with editor, simple rhythm of that life, being able to didn’t matter if it was a simple Spaghetti
connect with the community and grow Bolognese, my mother would light candles
Melanie Gardener much of our own food”. and set the table,” Annabel remembers.
Annabel explains that her goal in life “I started, as many kids do, with baking.
is “not to eat too many barcodes” which I’d always want to come and help because
is a fabulous way of saying that, by there was the chance to lick the beaters
preference, she uses the supermarket for or roll out the cookies or bake the cake. It
basic items but aims to grow and supply would come out of the oven and smell so
her own food much of the time. Married fabulous. It was such a simple way to feel
to a farmer, Annabel is also able to source successful as a child,” she adds.
meat from her husband’s farm. Annabel never originally considered
“I think it’s very easy to be wooed by cooking could be a career. Opportunities
the idea of convenience,” Annabel goes were limited and cooking wasn’t
on to explain. “But if you work with very fashionable at that time, so she took on a
fresh, very good ingredients, it’s easy to variety of other jobs until she realised that
be a good cook. Simple and satisfying she had a chance to do what she loved
ﬂavours that deliver on taste are my goal. and make a living from it.
It’s not about spending a lot of time or It was while she was busy running a
a lot of money. There is something very catering company that Annabel wrote
fulﬁlling about delivering on taste while to Julia Child to ask her advice. Julia
keeping it simple.” suggested that Annabel join a professional cooks. Annabel had strong ideas about
Annabel quickly realised that the organisation in America and attend its the design and layout of the kitchen but
philosophy she applied to their time in annual conference. “I met so many people was very aware that the kitchen had to
the cabin could also be applied to their who were involved in all di erent facets of suit the style of the old bungalow in which
everyday life in the city. “I’m a home cook, food,” she says. they live.
not a chef,” she states. “So I o en think In particular, Annabel remembers “We actually moved the kitchen,” she
I’m my own best audience because I’m a meeting a Frenchwoman, Danièle explains. “It was originally at the other end
busy, working mother and my focus is on Delpeuch, who became her mentor and of the house and was oriented so the cook
time spent around the table, not crying in dear friend. “She had previously been looked out the window into the garden.
the kitchen over risotto!” President Mitterrand’s private cook and But I wanted the kitchen to be in the
There is a lovely anecdote in Annabel’s we ended up ﬂatting together in New centre so I could look out into the room
book in which she refers to herself as York. I was an impoverished student and when I’m cooking.
having turned into “the Michelin man” as she had been through a messy divorce. “It is very functional and there isn’t
a result of sampling too many rich, fatty She would go to the market and buy much I would change. The only thing I
desserts while cooking in a restaurant something really simple like a leek, then haven’t quite managed well enough is
when she was 19. Annabel says this come home and make a marvellous meal that I’d make the bench ever so slightly
experience was actually a catalyst for out of it. longer to give me a little more room on
her to embark on training at the Culinary “It was that spirit of resourcefulness I either side, and I’d make better allowance
Institute of America where she completed really valued and I wanted to reﬂect that for composting and recycling.”
a course for chefs on nutrition. in the book,” Annabel says. Annabel’s other wish-list item is a
“The course was an epiphany and I Annabel’s kitchen at home is an walk-in refrigerator or cool room. She
came to understand why I was feeling so amalgamation of a few ideas which reﬂect loves the idea of easy access to produce
heavy,” Annabel laughs. “I learnt to cook how she uses the space and how she via open shelving and not having to
94 | THE GOURMET KITCHEN THE GOURMET KITCHEN | 95
Chocolate and Cranberry Slice
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 2 mins + 1 hour chilling
Makes approx 30 slices
350g best quality dark chocolate, chopped
cup sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract constantly open and close the door of a good knife and a wooden spoon.” o for another whirlwind interview and
cup icing sugar the refrigerator. Annabel’s next few months are going we part ways. But I’m le with a strong
1 cup dried cranberries It’s harder for Annabel to choose a to be taken up with pre-production then impression of Annabel’s passion for food
cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts favourite dish or meal to make. As she ﬁlming of the new Annabel Langbein T and produce and I can’t wait to get home
explains, “I’m more occasion-driven. To he Free Range Cook series for ABC TV in and try out some of her recipes.
1 Line a small 16 x 5cm loaf tin with baking paper. me, seafood is the biggest luxury but I Australia and TV ONE in New Zealand.
2 Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave also choose what to make based on what A new book is due for release in October
(microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds). Take it o produce is available. I’ll head out to the with a focus on bringing her free-range
the heat when nearly melted. If overheated it can ‘clump up’ and veggie garden and pick whatever items values to the city. “I want families to
go hard. The residual heat will be enough to fully melt it. go with what I have”. change their approach and make new DETAILS
3 Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir until evenly But when I ask about her most choices for healthier eating,” says The Free Range Cook is published by
combined, then stir in the vanilla, icing sugar, cranberries and indispensible item in the kitchen, Annabel. “I wanted to show busy families ABC Books and can be found in all
pistachio nuts. At this point the mixture will solidify. Annabel is fast with her answer. “My how easy it is to put good food on the good book retailers.
4 Press the mixture ﬁrmly into the prepared loaf tin. Chill until set, husband!” she chuckles, then adds table with just a bit of planning and Annabel Langbein’s website: www.
then slice and store in a cool place. This rich chocolate slice keeps seriously, “I love my Microplane system preparation.” annabel-langbein.com
for several weeks in an airtight container. so I don’t need much more than this, plus I bid goodbye to Annabel as she heads
THE GOURMET KITCHEN | 97