Book Review - BOUGHT, BORROWED & STOLEN, Recipes & Knives from a Travelling Chef

BOUGHT, BORROWED & STOLEN, Recipes & Knives from a Travelling Chef (Octopus, hardback ?25)Not a lot of people could claim an MBE for services to the hospitality industry on their CVs, but Allegra McEvedy is one who can – and the best-selling food writer, chef, broadcaster and culinary explorer’s unusual book BOUGHT, BORROWED & STOLEN, Recipes & Knives from a Travelling Chef (Octopus, hardback £25) illustrates perfectly what makes her stand out from the crowd.

Going back to a childhood of travelling around with her historian father, a treasure trove of culinary notes collected from 20 countries over a quarter of a century provides the foundation for the recipes – and, once she became a professional chef, the knife collection started so she now has knives that illustrate the foodie character of each country.

Thus, instead of just a recipe collection, ‘the tools they use to create their magic’ convey the essence of the food she experienced in each country, and the ‘taste memories’ that she describes in a highly individualistic style. A fascinating book.


(This recipe from Spain will look remarkably familiar to lovers of an Irish brunch – it makes a good post-Christmas feed!)

“The idea was a four-day romantic New Year's getaway, the reality was somewhat different...

Day 1 we met up with our great friend and bon viveur, Oli, and he and the wife went on a ten-hour bender that, given my state of pregnancy at the time, meant that the ensuing row ('It's my holiday too, you know') became a foregone conclusion.

Day 2 was New Year's Eve, and we got mugged (though Susi held on to her handbag for dear life, growling, for some reason, like a small dog, so they got away with nothing).

Day 3 was spent driving up to southern France to hook up with some friends, nice idea, but it happened to coincide with the one and only day in my pregnancy of gut-wrenching vomiting.

Day 4 we headed back to Barcelona for our evening flight, stopping for lunch in Girona, and came across this revelation of a dish - the highlight of the trip (though it has to be said, the competition was a bit thin).

Unfortunately there was also an unscheduled Day 5: stuck in the airport due to snow in Gatwick for thirty-six hours. Pregnant, with no fresh air and only airport food for a day and a half. Worst Trip Ever.”

Serves 2, and after you've soaked the cod only takes l5 minutes

100g/31/2 oz salt cod
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
75g/3oz black pudding (or one sausage of morcilla, the Spanish kind), sliced or diced
a small handful (6-ish) of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 eggs
a small handful of chives or spring onions, sliced

First you have to rehydrate the cod (put into a container under cold running water for 5 minutes, then soak for several hours, changing the water a couple of times), which, just to warn you, is easiest done overnight.

If the fish still has skin and bones, get rid of them, then cut it up into rough 1cm/1/2 inch dice.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/gas mark 31/2.

Using a pan that can go into the oven, heat the oil over a medium flame and fry the pieces of cod and the garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until it all begins to get golden and crunchy and starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, then
add the black pudding and the tomato halves.

After another 5 minutes, evenly distribute the contents around the pan, then crack the eggs in and tip it so that the whites run all around. Give it a few grinds of the peppermill and put the pan into the oven for about 3-ish minutes, until the eggs are set.

Sprinkle with chives and eat immediately - toast is good.

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