Ossu Bucco (Snowflakes and Schnapps)

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There are two types of cook books, those that are butter and oil spattered and well dog eared from use and those that are glossy tomes for display on the book shelf. Snowflakes and Schnapps falls into the display category. This probably is the most beautifully presented cookbooks that I have ever seen. The photography is lush and inspirational and the sheer heft of the book itself is impressive. However, it is unlikely to become the “go to” cookbook in anyones collection.
Snowflake and Schnapps is written by Jane Lawson, an Australian author, however the recipes are from “the snow-cloaked regions of Northern Europe”, an area that Lawson says has always held a fascination for her. The problem is that Lawson does not show any connection to the cuisines she covers. The recipes are presented in themed chapters with rather cringe worthy names like “Baby it’s cold outside” and “Diamonds and fur”. Besides a general introduction at the beginning of the book there is no real explanation for why particular recipes have been included or the story behind the recipes.
 
The recipes themselves are quite complex but clear and well written. They are not the type of thing that you can just whip up for a week night dinner, but more the sort of recipes that you need to spend some time on over the weekend. To test out the book I tried the recipe for osso bucco which was relatively time consuming and expensive to make (£22 alone for the veal). That said, the recipe pairs the ossu bucco with a saffron risotto which is an unusual combination but works really well. Once cooked, the ossu bucco is so tender that it melts off the fork and is the perfect meal for an autumn night.
 
Ingredients
Ossu Bucco
4 tb olive oil
1 tb butter
1 onion finely chopped
1 carrot diced
1 celery stalk chopped
1 bay leaf
8 x 3 cm thick pieces of veal shank
100g plain flour, seasoned
250ml white wine
60ml lemon juice
1 large strip of lemon rind
500ml veal or chicken stock
1 large thyme sprig chopped
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Risotto
Large pinch of saffron threads
125ml cup white wine
1.25 litre chicken stock
125g butter
1 onion finely chopped
330g risotto rice
50g grated parmesan cheese
 
1. Heat half the oil and butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf and cook for 15 – 20 mins, stirring often, until lightly golden. Remove the vegetables from the dish and set aside.
 
2. Lightly coat the veal shank in the seasoned flour. Add a little more oil and the remaining butter to the dish. Working in batches, brown the veal pieces well on each side, adding a little more oil if needed. Remove from the dish and set aside.
 
3. Add the wine, lemon juice and zest, stock, thyme and nutmeg to the dish. Return the veal pieces to the dish along with the vegetables and stir well to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for a further 35-45 mins, or until the veal is very tender and almost falling off the bone. Discard the lemon zest.
 
4. Carefully remove the meat from the dish, cover, and keep warm. Increase the heat and cook the sauce for a further 15 mins, or until thickened. Return the meat to the dish and carefully turn to coat in the sauce. Season to taste.
 
5. Meanwhile, to make the risotto, combine the saffron threads with the wine and set aside. Put the stock and 375ml of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
 
6. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onion for 5 mins or until softened. Add the rice and cook for 2 mins, stirring constantly, until the rice becomes translucent. Add the saffron and wine to the stock. Ladle in 1/2 cup of the stock at a time, ensuring the liquid is absorbed before adding more, until all the stock has been used and the rice is creamy and tender – this will take about 25 mins. Remove from the heat and stir through the remaining parmesan once done. Season to taste.
 
7. Serve by spooning the risotto into shallow bowls and topping with the ossu bucco.
 
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in teaming it with this recipe for easy apple crumble or you might be interested in posts on one of the “Northern European” climes featured in Snowflakes and Schapps, Austria.
 
Gourmet Chick received a copy of Snowflakes and Schnapps to review from Murdoch books.

9 comments

  1. I’ve read another review on this book (Dan from Essex Eating) and he says a very similar thing in that there is no information on the origins of dishes which would be nice. Passion and food go arm in arm to me and this book seems a little… chilly.

    This is on my list to go into a book shop and have a drool over the print production but not really gagging to cook from it really.

    That said the osso bucco dish there looks lovely – perfect for this weather!

  2. I agree: “Baby it’s cold outside” is definitely a cringe-worth chapter title.

    I’ve seen a couple of recipes that pair osso bucco with something saffrony, actually. And in any event, how is osso bucco a ‘Northern European’ dish? Northern Italy is still a far cry from those wintry bits I picture as Northern Europe. [So I see what you mean about how it’s a pretty book, but not a smart or useful one.]

  3. Osso buco is indeed quite pricey… but I had never thought of pairing it with saffron risotto… and it seems to be a genius idea!

  4. Now write up GC.
    Rather an expensive dish to try out (£22 for the veal alone!!?) but nice results. Completely agree, it’s a lovely book with some interesting recipes but the lack of background info on the dishes and the naff chapter titles lets it down. But never mind all that – feel the ‘bobbly’ dustcover…..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  5. Do you have any suggestions for better cookbooks that cover ‘Northern Europe’? As far as I can see it’s pretty under-represented in the constantly expanding cookbook literature.

  6. Graphic Foodie – it is certainly worth a drool

    American in London – the Ossu Bucco did work really well with the saffron so I am not surprised it has been used before but have to say it is not something I had seen before.

    Karine – I agree it is a flavour combination that you could use in a few different ways.

    Dan – it is beautiful and I agree the dust cover is a work of art!

    King – Falling cloudberries includes some recipes from that region and is another beautiful book. It also gives much more background on the recipes.

  7. We talked about this yesterday! I reviewed S & S a while back and while I thought it was a stunningly beautiful book, the recipes lacked context and background. I had to guess where most of them came from. It’s still sitting on my shelf looking gorgeous!

  8. Totally disagree.

    I actual hate how every cooks book now needs a personal and often contrived personal back story. Mrs B didn’t need it, neither does the legendary Savoy cocktail book. A good cook should understand these dishes and the context in which they are prepared and enjoyed.

    Contrary to this review, this is absolutely one of my go to cookbooks with food that is seriously enjoyed. I cannot recommend this enough and wish more British and American cooks produced something like this than the self absorbed nonsense they usually put out every Xmas.

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