A Winter Harvest with Maggie Beer

Home cooks can finally rejoice as Maggie Beer has just re-released her landmark book “Maggie’s Harvest,” in four seasonal copies for the kitchen. Starting with Winter, this paperback version of Maggie’s Harvest focuses on a garden full of great root vegetables as well as citrus and game meat with special attention to living off the land, which in Maggie’s case is the beautiful Barossa.

A Winter Harvest with Maggie Beer

Winter Harvest is embossed with heavy symbolism true to Maggie’s heart; you can feel the raised leaves of the pear tree that bears golden fruit which stands at the bottom of her garden, as well as the pheasant on the end of the branch that dips its head to The Farm Maggie has made into a business as well as a home.

Lovers of the 2007 Maggie’s Harvest will see her live again through the pages of these seasonal collector’s item books, taking readers’ and cooks alike on the journey of her beloved ingredients, many of which she now grows herself. Cavolo Nero is the first ingredient she talks about; it’s also the first photograph you see at the start of Winter Harvest which entails a story of how she found ‘Italy’s Black Cabbage,’ in a small, but overly expensive stall in Florence’s San Lorenzo market in 1997. Maggie will take you on a journey of her past experiences, allowing you to appreciate her standing in the Australian culinary industry.

A Winter Harvest with Maggie Beer

Maggie Beer's Roast Pork Belly with Verjuice and Seville Marmalade Glaze, p. 126.

If you want to understand the basics as well as explore different flavour pairings along with a country lifestyle theme, then Maggie Beer’s Winter Harvest is certainly the book for you.

We were able to have a quick chat with Maggie about why she chose to release these books now along with talking about her love of the Winter season.

AGFG: Splitting your original Maggie’s Harvest into four seasons must have been a daunting task, where did the idea spring from and how did you go about it?

Maggie: The idea came from my publisher Julie Gibbs. Readers’ would loathe taking the beautifully embroidered Harvest into the Kitchen, so paperbacks will allow people to feel comfortable splattering the pages.

AGFG: What was the first dish you used verjuice in and how has it shaped the way you cook?

Maggie: Pan frying a chicken breast with the skin on in nut brown butter and deglazing it with verjuice. It’s certainly shaped the way I cook as verjuice is a gentle acid that lifts the flavour of the food, so when in doubt I pick up the bottle of verjuice to give that balance in the dish.

A Winter Harvest with Maggie Beer

Maggie Beer's Lemon Tart, p. 83

AGFG: Citrus seems to be a signature in the Winter Harvest, what’s your favourite way to use citrus (be it orange, lemon or lime)?

Maggie: Winter is all about citrus! From using my pink grapefruit in a smoothie in the morning, to making a lemon tart because the lemons are falling of the tree to a salad of blood oranges; or simply just the zest of citrus with parsley and garlic as a gremolata, or to add to a stew. I couldn’t live without it.

AGFG: What do you like most about being a part of Masterchef?

Maggie: Who wouldn’t love getting the reception I do from the contestants? It’s often overwhelming in a wonderful way and I love it because everyone is learning and growing.

AGFG: Are there any other cook books on the horizon?

Maggie: Yes! But they’ll take time.

AGFG: What has been your most popular Maggie Beer Ice-cream?

Maggie: Burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel has absolutely become a cult following.

Recipes and images from the book Maggie Beer's Winter Harvest Recipes with Photography by Mark Chew, Published by Lantern, RRP $29.99, it can be purchased online here.