Nicola Galloway is one of New Zealand’s most respected food writers and photographers, well known for her regular column in Stuff and her website Homegrown Kitchen, as well as her book of the same name. Beautifully illustrated, The Homemade Table is a comprehensive cookbook for those who love to cook with the seasons using quality ingredients and includes detailed chapters on preserves and fermentation, sourdough bread and homemade dairy-products.
Nicola talks to NZ Booklovers.
Congratulations on being shortlisted in the NZ Booklovers Awards 2023! Can you tell us a little about your shortlisted lifestyle book, The Homemade Table?
I am thrilled to have The Homemade Table shortlisted in the awards, thank you. It took me 3 years to write and photograph with over 170 recipes within 380 pages. It is a book of two parts, the first section contains seasonal recipes focusing on fresh produce. Chapters include; Breakfasts & Drinks, Vegetables, Dinner, and Baking & Desserts. These are my favourite recipes I make for my family and friends throughout the year. In the second part of the book, I share my extensive knowledge and recipes for making homemade staples such as sourdough bread, preserves, ferments and cultured dairy products. In these chapters, I share my ‘master recipes’ for sourdough bread, multi-purpose dough, pickles and sauerkraut, with multiple variations for each. These staples form the backbone of my kitchen. Drawing on 20 years of experience teaching cooking, my aim is to simplify these more complex techniques for the home kitchen.
What inspired you to create this book?
The Homemade Table came from the many requests to have a follow up to my previous book, Homegrown Kitchen. With 5 years between the books, and more experience behind me, it is the next stage in my cooking journey. In this book I continue my focus on seasonal everyday recipes, letting fresh produce being the starting point to a meal. I also dive deeper into some of the subjects I touched on in Homegrown Kitchen, with extensive chapters on preserving (including fermentation) and sourdough including breads and other recipes to use sourdough. I also include troubleshooting for these more complex techniques from the most asked questions at my cooking workshops.
What type of recipes should home cooks expect?
Lots of seasonal recipes for meal planning throughout the year. Plus recipes to make homemade basics including yogurt, oat milk, bread, buns and much more. Also how to preserve the harvest and avoid waste in the kitchen. One meal can become another with some simple additions.
What are your three favourite recipes in the book, and why?
That is a hard one to answer, with 170 recipes to choose from. So I am going to choose the ones I find myself making most often, because that makes them favourites, right? Homemade bread is one of my non-negotiable for me and the Rustic Sourdough Bread - Seeded Variation - is the one I make the most as the whole family love it. For something savoury, All-the-goodness Beetroot Salad, appears on our table year round. And the Chocolate, Prune & Beetroot Brownie is not too sweet but satisfies those chocolate cravings.
What was your routine or process when creating The Homemade Table?
Writing a book is a huge commitment so routine and discipline is essential. With regular recipe writing work for Stuff that I work on weekly I found I needed to get that out of the way first so Thursday and Friday became my writing days. I would often photograph the recipes as I tested them, often over the weekend and then edit the images on Monday's. With such a large scale book I had a clear book plan and would work on one chapter at a time with dates I had to have each completed by. It sounds good in theory but life can throw some curve balls (especially through Covid times) so there were quite a few evenings and weekends added into the mix to hand in the manuscript on time.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
Funny, the Beatles, come to mind. If I listen to music while cooking it is always something upbeat that I can sing along to. Here comes the sun, and Let it be are two songs that come to mind.
What did you enjoy the most about creating The Homemade Table?
The production stage once the writing and editing is done and getting to see it start to come together in design is always exciting. Then of-course the day you get to hold the first advance copy in your hand (about 6-8 weeks before it is released) is pretty special and emotional seeing all the work in a printed hard copy form.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
I read a lot of cookbooks. One I enjoyed recently is Japanese Home Cookery by Maori Murota as I love learning about different cuisines and how to use new ingredients. I particularly loved the gentle flow and images of this book, it sets the scene perfectly.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Consolidating. After a big few years working on The Homemade Table I am taking time to catch up on those things that got pushed aside, and enjoy a slower pace and spend time with my family. I will continue to write recipes for my editorial work and share recipes on my Homegrown Kitchen website and social media. I am planning more cooking workshops in the coming months, as it is nice to be back teaching again without restrictions. And also allowing some space to see what creativity comes next.