New Voices in Food - Alice Hart. (Quadrille Publishing)

I am a keen collector of cookbooks. My collection runs into the

hundreds, and dates back nearly a century. However, I can say with some

degree of confidence that I have never read in any of them that the use

of a camper van is recommended by way of a cooking utensil. Never.

I used to own a camper van just like Alice, so I am on her wave length

(or band width for the younger reader). When she refers to it as “the

ultimate in mobile kitchens” she scores a culinary hole in one with me.

As a camper van girl hers is not the kitchen scattered with a dozen

dirty bowls, a sink full of washing up and four burners and the oven

firing flat out. A camper van kitchen is compact, utilitarian and

compels the chef to cook in a minimalist way. If you saw the size of the

sink inside them, you would understand – it is barely big enough to set

a jelly in.

It stands to reason then that camper tucker is going to have a pretty

easy ride to the table. Like picnics and play away barbecues, she

prepares things in advance to cut out unnecessary fussing when out and

about. Indeed she bravely attempts damper bread cooked on a stick over

an open fire, and suggests dry mixing the ingredients into a plastic bag

at home. Also cakes to be baked at home to bring along too. All such

sensible advice.

Exotica such as grilled corn and sweet potato with lime dressing,

rosemary farinata and Saigon salad rolls are effortlessly put together

like ham and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea. No prizes for working

out which tastes better.

Alice does operate from inside her house and domestic kitchen too. She

extols the delights of a traditional family Sunday lunch, offering

pleasant twists on the usual fare and arranges the recipes here as

elsewhere into orderly menus to provide a complete and complimentary


Breakfast , lunch and parties all have their own chapters, and

throughout the book she constantly offers sensible short cuts to avoid

the last minute crush before the food arrives at table, leaving the cook

to enjoy the meal along with others , be it family or friends, few or


So, if you want to make lamb cigars, boozy lollies or learn how to cover

your tracks after a camp fire, Alice’s Cook Book is the one to buy.