Annabel Langbein: We Meet Our Favourite Free Range Cook

Celebrate Summer with Annabel Langbein!

Would you like to know what Annabel Langbein’s cooking tips are for the kitchen? Work out who inspires her and what her fave fashion finds are on EziBuy?

If you haven’t heard of who Annabel Langbein is, then let’s catch up! With many fingers in the pie (get it?) she’s a celebrity cook, food writer and publisher. I sat down with Annabel Langbein to get to know her a little bit better…

What can readers expect from your latest book?

My new summer annual Celebrate Summer is packed full of lots of exciting new ideas and recipes that are simple to prepare yet deliver the WOW factor. Everyone wants to relax in summer and not be slaving in the kitchen, so I’ve come up with a toolkit of fun new recipes that work for any occasion that might arise over the summer – from an impromptu picnic, to drinks and nibbles with friends, to a casual barbecue or the kids’ last-minute shared class lunch.

A sneak peek of what to see inside Annabel Langbein's new Spring/Summer bookazine

Who inspires your cooking/baking?

I have the most wonderful memories of sitting up at the kitchen bench as a child while my mother cooked. She was an amazing cook, and would often get me to help – especially if she was baking. Even from way back then I can recall feeling an incredible sense of achievement and pride from baking something delicious – people thought you were so clever. Though my Mum sadly isn’t around anymore I feel so lucky to have had her nourish this sense of connection and belonging through cooking.

Do you have any cooking tips you’d like to share?

People love being cooked for and it’s not about having to do culinary gymnastics or show-off food, it’s about bringing people together. Cook food that you like to eat, and if you’re entertaining it’s best not to try something new – it’s important to feel confident. Be prepared, do as much as you can ahead of time, and make sure you give yourself some time before people arrive to get out of the cooking zone and into entertaining mode. Put on something that makes you feel fabulous – dressing up a bit just always makes you feel in the mood for a party! My mother also had one piece of useful advice – too many chardonnays ruin the cook! In other words, don’t get plastered before you have served up dinner.

What is your favourite dish to cook at Christmas time? 

I love the ritual and tradition of Christmas. Sometimes life can be so busy but I find to get into the mood of Christmas I start to bake Christmas goodies. On Christmas Day it’s all about that gargantuan amazing Christmas feast. Luckily now everyone brings something – so it’s a share the love affair. My fave thing to cook is roast duck with all the trimmings, all the new season’s vegetables from the garden, and then meringues and berries and cream and homemade ice-cream. It’s so old-fashioned in a way but that’s part of what I love – just keeping the tradition that I grew up with going in my own family. 

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of:

ChocolatePeanut slabs – building a boat with friends in our teens, these were our revival snack.

PotatoesMy dad, in the kitchen, mashing potatoes. He was the master – he always got them really finely broken up with a fork before adding butter and milk and then mashing. Legendary!

ChickenBirthdays. Chicken was a treat when we were growing up. It was way more expensive than lamb or beef, and on our birthdays we would nag mum for her roast chicken. It was so crisp skinned and tender and moist. To this day a good roast chicken always makes me feel celebratory, but in fact it’s such a simple thing to make. 

What is one ingredient that you’ll never use in your cooking?

Margarine is one, coke is probably another. I like real food that is connected to the food chain, not industrial food.

Annabel on A Free Range Life: Celebrate Summer “So much to celebrate! The sun’s shining, the surf’s up – any excuse is a good excuse to enjoy simple seasonal food with friends and family. I’ve created more than 100 fresh new recipes to fuel your festivities this summer.”

What do you wear when you are in the kitchen?

You know I never wear an apron! I don’t like tight fitting clothes when I cook – it stops me from thinking or being creative – so a nice shirt and a pair of jeans is my go-to cooking outfit. I’m not really a messy cook so often if I’m having people for dinner I’ll cook in whatever outfit I’ve decided to wear for the occasion. That said, I now know NOT to wear that special silk shirt if I know I’m going to be pan-frying something or cutting up beetroot!

What would you wear to a Summer Dinner Party?

I’m a great believer in layering, so if the night cools down I can add another layer or two as needed, or take it back if it’s toasty. I love a good dress – they make you feel a bit dressed up and sexy for very little effort.

What are you favourite pieces from our summer collection?

There are so many great things in the Summer and Christmas catalogues! I love lace and white, so the Grace Hill Lace Shifts in the Christmas catalogue really spins my wheels, especially the white three-quarter sleeve shiftAnd I think the Grace Hill Beaded Tunic with the pretty tulip pattern is just the go for summer barbecues, especially with a pair of white chinos. That and the Emerge Broderie Lace Up TunicSuch simple relaxed styles that let you feel elegant and summery. Love it! And the pull-on sneakers in all those great metallic colours in the Summer collection are my idea of style and comfort! 

Annabel Langbein’s new spring / summer annual A Free Range Life: Celebrate Summer! (Annabel Langbein Media, $24.95) is available from EziBuy from October 2016.