TheLuvvie.com’s ESTELLE SINKINS talks to Nicky Stubbs about her fabulous new recipe book, For Friends & Family.
“GOOD food is easy to make”, says Nicky Stubbs, author of the new recipe book, For Friends & Family.
The book, which is packed full of her favourite recipes, is a true celebration of food and cooking, from the simplest meals and childhood favourites, through to Sunday lunches and festive feasts. She also shares heirloom recipes, offers modern twists on old-fashioned classics, and gives invaluable tips for preparing delicious meals at home.
“Anyone can use this book,” Stubbs, who lives in Cape Town, says. “My editor asked me why I didn’t include recipes for sushi or macaroons but I just feel these dishes are too expensive to go wrong and I don’t want to be the one responsible for them going wrong.’
That said, there are a couple of recipes which offer a challenge – her Chicken Marbella and bernaise sauce among them – but Stubbs is keen to stress that she has tested each and every dish, cake and sauce to make them as fool-proof as possible.
“What I am trying to get across to people is that this is good food that is easy to make,” she says.
The book also celebrates making every meal an occasion – even if it’s just cheese on toast before you head out to the theatre. It’s something her mum, Diana Stubbs, believed in and a tradition she’s keen to continue and to encourage.
“Setting the table and lighting a few candles doesn’t take a lot of time and it has the added benefit of making it easier for my family to get together at the same time,” says Stubbs. “Sitting down at the table to eat a meal gives everyone the chance to talk and to say what kind of a day they have had. It’s all about taking responsibility for the conversation. Too much time is now taken up by social media and a lot of what gets said on these platforms is said without a feeling of responsibility.”
The idea for For Friends & Family was born when Stubbs was sitting at a table at her home in Rondesbosch. “I was missing my parents and I suddenly felt that I needed to bring them back in some way,” she explains. “My recipes were all over the place, so I got them altogether and the idea to make a book was born.”
Every recipe in the book is a favourite says Stubbs, who shares wonderful stories and thoughts within the book’s beautifully designed and illustrated pages. When pressed, however, she admits that her milk tart recipe instantly takes her back to her childhood on an East Griqualand dairy farm.
“My dad, Jeremy, was a dairy farmer and my mum had to do something with all the extra milk. What could be better than a milk tart? Every time I make this I feel that my mom is very present,” she says.
Another dish with more than a touch of poignancy is a decadent looking chocolate mousse, which she says reminds her of her father.
“When we moved to Johannesburg my dad would often take us to the Alhambra Theatre and as a treat we would go to the Anton van Wouw restaurant,” Stubbs said. “They made the most amazing chocolate mousse and iIt took me years to find anyone who could make it quite like they did. Then Judy England, owner of the Hedge House guesthouse in Newlands, served it to me again, and I almost cried with relief, joy and a nostalgic longing for those precious family outings. I really do feel that honest food brings back the best memories.”
In styling For Friends & Family Stubbs was determined that everything should looked homemade. Reading this book it is clear she has succeeded, thanks to a mix of images of her dishes that get the taste-buds going, candid family photos and warm, homely pictures taken by her sister, Pippa Hetherington.
The book also contains a photo of a painting by English landscape artist Roy Petley, which she inherited from a favourite uncle, Peter Siddons.
“My uncle had a larger than life personality and when he died he left this amazing collection of beautiful things. I took his paintings. They went into storage and only came out this year because I needed to decorate a room for a nephew who was coming to stay with us,” she says.
“My sister was taking photos for the book and she picked up this photo and put it on a chair to take a photo. When we decided we wanted to use it in the book I was asked to find out who had the copyright.
“I did some research and discovered that Roy Petley’s work is in Queen Elizabeth II’s collection, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s collection and is considered to be one of the best landscape artists living in the United Kingdom today. I got in touch with him and told him what I wanted to do and he was happy for me to do so. Without my uncle, however, that would never ever have happened.”
- For Friends & Family by Nicky Stubbs is published by Human & Rousseau.
DID YOU KNOW?
- In Nicky Stubbs’ long and interesting career, she has completed a Cordon Bleu cooking course, cooked in London and France, run restaurants, catered, given cooking classes and written for magazines.
- She is currently the sales and marketing manager of NB Publishers.