Annabel Langbein, the Free Range Cook

The other week, Boyfriend and I were lucky enough to get invited by Sally Burleigh PR to attend an intimate dinner at the home of Annabel Langbein.

When I told my friends about this, there was a mixed response of “who is Annabel Langbein?” and “OMG what?!”

Annabel is extremely well-known in New Zealand and is steadily making a huge name for herself internationally as well. So my friends who didn’t know who Annabel was, surely will soon.

Annabel is a cook with her own TV show (which she co-produces), a director of her own successful publishing company and the author of 19 cookbooks, including the bestselling The Free Range Cook and Simple Pleasures. Did I mention she is also a wife and mother of two? She’s also been the founder+owner of a successful catering business for film and TV, a successful food columnist and the founder+owner of a successful international food marketing consultancy. Way to make the rest of us feel like major underachievers…

Anyway, despite all this, Annabel is actually incredibly lovely and down to earth and we had the best night in her home.

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We arrived having no idea what to expect.

We left very full and very happy.

The evening was like spending the night at a relative’s or a friend’s place. We (being myself and Boyfriend as well as the girls from Sally Burleigh PR, the Spectacled Gentleman and Lucy from Mamamia (and their plus ones)), were treated to an evening of delicious food and wine by Annabel as well as her husband and son in their very beautiful Vaucluse home. We stood around watching Annabel cook while she talked to us about her journey and her cooking style all while giving us some useful tips.

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Annabel teaching us how to make mayonnaise. 

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The trick to making mayonnaise, according to Annabel, is speed. Not the drug. Actual speed. I.e. place all the ingredients in a jar/jug and whiz with a bar mix.

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Ingredients laid out ready to go.

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Annabel explained that how she loves to cook is to look at what fresh produce she has available, and then decide what she feels like. So, it seemed she made everything up as she went along, letting the food she had in front of her provide the inspiration.

We started with a selection of pre-dinner nibbles prepared in front of us in Annabel’s kitchen, which, by the way, is a kitchen any keen cook would kill for.

Toasted olive bread with zucchini, chilli and goats cheese. 

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Salmon and avocado bruschetta.

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Salmon rissoles with freshly made mayo. 

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After (and during) our wandering entrees, we continued watching Annabel cook our dinner. Watching her work was very impressive. She made it all look so effortless, even though I know if I attempted even half the stuff Annabel cooked for us I’d never pull it off as flawlessly.

Oven baked salmon with freshly made pesto

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Pea risotto 

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Beetroot (fresh AND roasted), haloumi and walnut salad 

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When dinner was ready, we all sat down to a big family dinner around Annabel’s table.

The gorgeous dining table.

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Dinner is served!

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Annabel must have known I was coming because for dessert we had pavlova – one of my most favourite things EVER. Annabel’s pavlova was so delicious I could have easily eaten more than one serving. Many more.

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We all scored a copy of Annabel’s cookbook Simple Pleasures. (Best day ever.)

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There are so many scrumptious-looking recipes in this book I can’t wait to cook from it. I’ll be sure to report back soon. This book, like her others, follows Annabel’s philosophy that good, fresh food is easy to prepare and that sharing good food is the key to a happy life.

Her show, Annabel Langbein the Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures, also focuses on this philosophy. Filmed in her large organic garden on Lake Wanaka in New Zealand, it’s in its second season and is aired on Lifestyle Food.

Find out more about Annabel, her show and cookbooks here.

All in all, the food was incredible and Annabel, her husband and son were the perfect hosts. If they ever invited me back I’d be there in a heartbeat.

 

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