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.
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
Large pinch of saffron threads
125ml cup white wine
1.25 litre chicken stock
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.
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.