Friday, 29 August 2014

Recipes to change the world

Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Barbara Broccoli have contributed recipes to an inspring charity project - here, Meryl Streep explains why

A book of joy – Women For Women International began with a commitment on the part of a single individual to contribute in some way to the global community. The underlying message of this cookbook, which celebrates the work of the charity, is exactly that simple: for all our apparent diversity – as individuals, societies, and nations – our actions, however small, have an exponential infl uence in the world through our shared humanity.

Nothing more beautifully conveys our interdependence than the food we eat. Access to wholesome food is critical to whether we merely survive… or thrive. Food builds our physical resilience, brings us joy, and strengthens our bonds with friends and family. It maintains our connection to the seasons, and generates employment, wealth and economic stability. What we choose to eat and how we choose to prepare it reflect our ancestral traditions and cultural heritage, as well as our abundant creativity. Food unites us globally.

The individuals whose recipes are featured in this cookbook are all actively engaged in a range of humanitarian causes. Their contribution and yours, through purchasing this book, directly support Women For Women International in its work with women in war-torn countries around the world. It is their focus on women’s inner strength and resourcefulness that has drawn me to their work. As a mother and wife, I believe in the critical role women play in our family’s stability and future.

This book includes dishes from world-class chefs and infl uential humanitarians, as well as lesser-known heroes and the women whose lives have been improved by the charity. The recipes draw on the freshest of ingredients to produce simple yet delicious food, and the chapters reflect the importance of caring for our personal wellbeing, nurturing our loved ones, supporting our community by developing fair and sustainable trade and, last but not least, uniting in celebration.

Take time to enjoy the food and read the stories. Welcome friends and family to your table. Join me – in celebration of our shared humanity. Bon appetit!

Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity, edited by Alison Oakervee and with a foreword by Meryl Streep (Kyle Books, £25).

Meryl Streep's Wheatberry Salad


Serves 4-6 as a side dish

  • 175g wheatberries
  • 4-6 pepperoncini, or pickled green peppers
  • 4-5 spring onions, green parts only, sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 25g mint leaves, chopped
  • 110g pomegranate seeds
  • 100g feta cheese, cubed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the wheatberries according to the packet instructions. Set aside to cool completely, then tip into a bowl. Add the pepperoncini or pickled green peppers, spring onions and olive oil and toss to combine.

Stir in the mint and pomegranate seeds and toss in the cheese. Season to taste. This salad is great served at room temperature or chilled.

Emma Thompson's Sausage and Cabbage Bake


Serves 4-6

12 Toulouse sausages
1-2 large Savoy cabbages
75-100g butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Squeeze the sausage meat from the skins and set aside. Remove the leaves from the cabbages, discarding the outer leaves and the stalk. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then plunge into cold water. Drain and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper.

Arrange a layer of cabbage leaves in the bottom of a large casserole with a tight-†fitting lid. Dot with butter and follow with a layer of sausage meat and seasoning. Repeat to form 3-4 tightly packed layers, ending with the thicker cabbage leaves on top, which will act as a lid.

Cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours or until it’s all gone soft and gooey. Serve with baked potatoes.

Barbara Broccoli's Fabulous Chocolate Celebration Cake


Serves 6-8

  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • chocolate shavings and/or shapes of your choice, to decorate
For the ganache:
  • 275ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease 2 x 20cm round, loose-bottomed sandwich tins and line their bases with baking parchment. Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with the milk. Rest the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and leave until melted, stirring frequently.

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in the eggs, flour, baking powder and almonds. Add the melted chocolate and stir until evenly combined. Divide between the prepared tins, level the surfaces and bake in the oven for 25-30 mins or until just firm. Remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

For the ganache, heat the cream in a small heavy-based pan until steam rises and bubbles appear around the edge, then stir in the chopped chocolate. Leave until melted, turn into a bowl and chill in the fridge for 1½-2 hours, until the mixture is just thick enough to hold its shape.

Now assemble the cake. Place one of the layers of sponge on a plate and spread with about a third of the chocolate ganache. Top with the second sponge. Tip the remaining ganache over the cake and spread it over the top and sides, swirling with a palette knife. Decorate with chocolate shavings and/or chocolate shapes of your choice. Keep the cake in a cool place until ready to serve.

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