Monday, January 18, 2010

My inspiration Mondays - Annabel Langbein

Celebrity chef Annabel Langbein is my biggest cooking inspiration, so I think she deserves the honour of being the first subject for My inspiration Mondays.
I'm so grateful to Shelley Patrick for introducing me to Annabel's recipes. Paul and I were staying the night at Shelley and Andy's home in London after honeymooning in France, when Shelley showed me her favourite cookbook - The Best of Annabel Langbein. I was immediately hooked, and instead of going out site-seeing on our last day in London, we stayed home so I could copy out recipes. Well worth it! (I hope Paul thinks so too.)

What I love about Annabel

Her simple-to-follow recipes result in mouth-watering, gourmet meals. I get so many compliments when I cook an Annabel recipe that I feel like a kitchen goddess, although it's Annabel that deserves that title.

Not just a chef, but also a gardener, Annabel uses fresh ingredients and her cookbooks are scattered with helpful tips placed exactly where you want to find them. Annabel's self-proclaimed aim is to be a guide - sharing her knowledge, skills and experience so others can find cooking more rewarding and fun. I'd say she achieves that aim hands down.

If you decide to invest in an Annabel Langbein cookbook (which I recommend you do), start with The Best of Annabel Langbein - New Edition: Great Food for Busy LivesBetter than the Edmonds - this cookbook covers everything you can think of and has beautiful pictures to boot.

If, like me, you've got a garden full of veges you want to eat up,
Eat Fresh is another treasure trove. Divided into sections by season, and photographed entirely in Annabel's garden, Eat Fresh gives lots of ideas for using up your seasonal plenty.

Cooking to Impress Without Stress
is another winner. I've made the one-step chocolate cake recipe dozens of times because it's so simple, yet incredibly moist and rich.

Annabel's website is an experience in itself and worth delving into. It offers a selection of recipes, menu plans and cooking tips. 

Because she's such a favourite of mine, you will see I've already posted a few of her recipes on this site - and more are sure to follow.

Check out my reviews of Anyone can Cook and Anyone Can Bake.

Annabel's background 

Wife to Ted Hewetson and mother to two teenagers, Sean and Rose, Annabel actually trained in horticulture and first made her living trapping possums and jumping out of helicopters to catch wild deer for New Zealand's venison-farming industry. She stumbled into cooking when a friend asked her to chef for his small Gisborne restaurant. From there she started up her own Auckland catering business and has been in the business of food ever since.

Annabel admits that when she first got into cooking, she put on tonnes of weight and had to work hard to lose it. Because of this, she has put effort into creating recipes with lots of flavour, but not lots of fat.

A passionate cook, Annabel finds it difficult to be out of the kitchen - so much so that she asked if she could experiment with recipes in the hotel kitchen on one of her recent holidays. (Of course they said yes. Who wouldn't?)

Annabel has written twelve cookbooks, selling over a million copies and winning numerous awards. She is often featured on television and writes a regular column for
NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.

These days Annabel is a fr
equent traveler; inspirations from her trips often end up in her recipes and help her find new ways to use some of the produce she grows in her Auckland potager and Wanaka orchard.

Annabel is an active campaigner against the entry of GM (genetically engineered or modified organisms) into our food chain and sits on the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, which is committed to keep New Zealand food, fibre and native ecosystems free of genetically modified organisms.

One day I would love to meet Annabel and have a good yarn about all that inspires her.


  1. I like her website! We were given "free range cook", which has beautiful photos and I have tried a few recipes (pork belly in particular as we have a pig to use up). I didn't get to see the accompanying TV series, so maybe that would help, but I was a bit disappointed to read at the start of the book that many of the veges weren't actually from the garden, because the garden was established for the book/series and it didn't really work out that good! This is fair enough, gardens take time, I just felt a bit ripped off that it wasn't as free range as I was expecting. I think it would have had more credibility if they used a long-established garden and showed what you can really cook from your own that's a cook book I'd like to see!

  2. Hey Liz, Annabel's new book - Free Range in the City - uses vegetables from her Auckland garden, which she's had for years. Also, her book - Eat Fresh - was entirely photographed with produce from her garden and it's got lots of great recipes for home gardeners.


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