As good at cooking as she is good looking
On The Table At Home
When you've written as many books as I have—around 30 and counting—it's sometimes easy to forget the exhilaration of being a first-time author. I'm currently dragging my feet on the final chapters of my new book, and dreading the deadline that's already frantically flashing in panic button mode, and that's why it's been so cathartic to see a new author hit her stride and cross the finishing line with aplomb. And unless you've been sequestered under a rock somewhere far, far away, you'll know that I'm referring to the lovely Danielle Graham, whose accomplishments as an international model are perhaps about to be eclipsed by her new triumph as cookbook author. Titled On The Table At Home, the book is as much a collection of her favourite recipes as it is an intimate chronicle of Danielle's culinary journey.
"I've always been passionate about food and it's something that was instilled in me by my parents. It was very important for them that we ate right and ate together as a family, and I think that's a huge reason why cooking is such a big part of my life. I love to read and write, and doing this book—an incredible journey from which I learned so much and which was a few years in the making—has been a dream since I was a teenager," Danielle said. Launched last week to great fanfare in Hong Kong, and with a KL launch imminent, the book is the culmination of a lifetime's worth of cooking for friends, family and her children. More importantly—and this is something you will comprehend if you, like Danielle, derive pleasure from the joy your cooking yields in others—it represents an exhaustive journey traversed, one that's variously been rich with rewards, and rife with trial and error. This gift of food is Danielle's offering, as it were, to the world. And if you ask me, the gift of sharing the food you love is quite possibly the most authentic and sincere gift of all.
A girl after my own heart, Danielle is a big fan of comfort food, and why not? Comfort food nourishes, warms, and satiates in a way that trendy cuisine just cannot, and so the book is a treasure trove of such familiar recipes as ABC soup, steamed fish with soy, ginger and shiitake, and beef rendang. It's a big nod to the multicultural society that we as Malaysians are so fortunate to be a part of, but there are also recipes that serve as succinct bookmarks of a life partly lived abroad, such as the miso soup with salmon and shimeji mushrooms, a throwback to a sojourn in Japan, where an enduring love for this hearty broth developed. And, like so many children who inherited their love of cooking from their caregivers, Danielle owes much of her gastronomic passion to her mother and grandmother, both powerhouses in the kitchen, whose heirloom recipes have made their way into pride of place in the book. One that I particularly look forward to trying is granny's chicken rice, purportedly a "legendary" dish in Danielle's family, and one that is regularly requested for by her children.
Until you become an author yourself, you may not realise that writing a book is not unlike getting disrobed and sharing your bits in all their perfect imperfection with the world. A novelist may write fiction, but therein are contained anecdotes that owe their provenance to the author's life experience. A cookbook does much the same, saying, "There, this is all I know, and more, and it's now yours for the taking". Taken in that spirit, On The Table At Home is a heartfelt, honest, and generous compendium encompassing what promises to be intensely soul-satisfying recipes, and for this I congratulate Danielle for rising to the extremely difficult challenge of making this lifelong dream a reality. Now go, and avail yourselves to a copy or three at the local bookstores.
Watch the video below of Danielle Graham and her friends cooking two recipes from On The Table At Home.