Lotte’s Country Kitchen by Lotte Duncan

If ever you require a large dose of comfort or perhaps a little something to nibble alongside your tipple of choice of an evening, look no further than ‘Lotte’s Country Kitchen’.  This cook book is a beautifully inspired collection of recipes by writer and broadcaster Lotte Duncan.  You may also wish to prepare yourself for a trip to the garden centre …

Lotte lives in a quaint cottage in the heart of the English countryside and runs a cookery school from her home.  Although she cooks with an Aga, her recipes are suitable for conventional ovens too.  Packed with flavour and bursting with energy and personality, Lotte dishes out the food that “has formed the backbone of her life” and that she has shared on countless occasions with her family and friends.  Having had the pleasure of meeting Lotte recently, it was lovely to see how her warmth and personality speak from every page in her book.  
As well as being very keen to use the produce from her own country garden, Lotte is also a big supporter of local suppliers and independent retailers.  She gives a few short tips on some of her favourite items and all of the ingredients in her book are easily and readily available.  In particular, Lotte talks about using Rapeseed oil, which is lower in saturated fat (less than half that of olive oil) and contains Vitamin E.  

Lotte has styled her own food throughout the book and it has been superbly captured by photographer Lara Holmes.  The design also deserves great credit, as Matt Inwood and Claire Siggery of Absolute Press bring together Lotte’s English country garden and her recipes with enchanting style.  Stunning flowers grace the pages, perfectly complementing the food, which brims with colour as well as flavour.Lotte takes you through her culinary year, month by month, starting (as she means to go on) with ‘cheeky olives’ to accompany a large glass of wine and a good chat with friends in the “dark, chilly month” of January.  For supper, Lotte serves ‘little cheesy salmon pots with marinated cucumber’ and for pudding the not-to-be-missed ‘nutty treacle tart’ – orange-infused pastry filled with sweet and gooey maple and golden syrup coated nuts.   I tried a slice of this made by Lotte’s own fair hand, served with a sharp crème fraiche and a crisp white wine and it was really delicious!  The recipe is easy to follow and the pastry can be whizzed up in a food processor in no time.

Further into spring, Lotte looks forward to her annual “seed packet frenzy” as she begins to bring the garden into her country kitchen with dishes, such as ‘wild garlic, sorrel and nettle tart with cheesy pastry’ and ‘potted salmon with sorrel’ served in a pretty china teacup. Don’t miss ‘Daisy’s banana cake’, which my kids now love having as a treat.

By early summer, as Lotte confesses she is an “herbaceous plant addict”, she adorns her delightful ‘fairy cakes with fruit icing and sparkles’ with rose petals and shares her versatile ‘English herb and flower salad’, also perfect with some English asparagus or local goats’ cheese.  I can’t wait to also try making my own ‘homemade butter’ to go with Lotte’s ‘dried berry scones’.

By late summer, Lotte is sitting in her hammock nibbling on ‘crunchy nutty chicken with chilli jam’ or ‘beer-battered alliums.’  Your own garden or a spot of berry-picking will, without doubt, inspire you to recreate Lotte’s ‘apple, blackberry and elderberry squidgy pudding’ or ‘plum and pistachio tart’.  Beautiful British plums could also be steeped in vodka or gin (they certainly will be in my house this year).

Lotte brings happiness and joy to the table with every bite of her mouth- watering and eye-catching food.  The recipes exude comfort and fun and they will certainly inspire you to look differently upon your garden, with flowers, fruits and herbs providing a wonderful twist to your cooking.  Recipes are easy to follow and are easily achievable by the home cook looking for welcoming British cooking.  Her funny and heart-warming head notes and recollections make this a truly special cook book for any home cook’s collection and would make a great foodie gift.

I am sending a copy of this book, very kindly signed by Lotte, to my sister in the mountains of northern Italy, who will love it, not only for its ‘English country garden’ themed recipes, but also for Lotte’s ability to evoke comfort on every level, bringing a touch of colour and sparkle to even the coldest of days! 

For more information about Lotte’s book or the country cookery school Lotte runs from her home see

Photos very kindly supplied by Lotte Duncan. Copy my own.

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