Lavender and Lovage

Stuart Forster reviews the cookbook Lavender and Lovage by Karen Burns-Booth.

Disclosure: Stuart Forster, the author of this post, was sent a review copy of ‘Lavender and Lovage’. Neither the book’s author nor its publisher reviewed or approved this article.

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Lavender and Lovage book

Lavender and Lovage, subtitled ‘A Culinary Notebook of Memories and Recipes from Home and Abroad’, is a cookbook written by Karen Burns-Booth.

The title of the book is also the name of Karen Burns-Booth’s long-established and widely read blog.

Karen has a large social media following and regularly posts recipes that she has developed. They are accompanied by food photographs that Karen styles.

Unsurprisingly, the Lavender and Lovage book also features the author’s own images.

Delicious food photography

You’ll see photos of tempting homestyle food in the book; appealing dishes that look as if they could have been photographed shortly before a family sat down to a meal together.

The images are indicative that recipes in Lavender and Lovage are of the type that even modestly talented cookery enthusiasts can follow and cook.

The recipes are for what you might term ‘real food’ rather than fancy, artful dishes which might satisfy aesthetics but not a hungry people with healthy appetites.

Hardback recipe book

Lavender and Lovage is a hardback book that runs to 396 pages.

The introduction conveys the author’s passion for tasty, no-nonsense food made with quality, fresh ingredients. It also hints at the global influences that have influenced Burns-Booth’s palette and style of cooking. She has lived in South Africa, Hong Kong, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, France and North Wales.

As a food and travel blogger, Karen has had opportunities to traverse the globe. The dishes she has tasted have inspired some of the 160 recipes in this book.

Front cover of Lavender and Lovage: A Culinary Notebook of Memories and Recipes from Home and Abroad by Karen Burns-Booth
Front cover of Lavender and Lovage: A Culinary Notebook of Memories and Recipes from Home and Abroad by Karen Burns-Booth.

Stories about life and food

Anecdotes, titled memory snippets or taste snippets, intersperse chapters of Lavender and Lovage. These are written in the present tense and convey food-related thoughts.

The recipes are grouped into breakfasts and brunches, starters and snacks, main courses, salads and accompaniments. Then come pies, pasties and tarts, followed by puddings then scones, cakes and biscuits.

The final sections hold recipes for preserves and sundry gems. The latter includes an opportunity to include the likes of the chilli chicken pasta with chorizo that’s a signature dish of the author’s daughter. Frying pan pizza and poutine, the comfort food often enjoyed after boozy nights out in Montreal, also feature.

The mains are termed ‘middlings’ by Burns-Booth. They are subdivided into seafood recipes, poultry and game dishes, meat-based ideas then vegetarian recipes.

The introduction to Ah Yeung’s sweet and sour fish explains that it was one of Karen’s family’s favourite dishes when in Hong Kong (Ah Yeung was her Amah).

Recipes throughout Lavender and Lovage include a few lines that explain where the author first encountered them, her personal attachment to dishes and aspects of their heritage.

Easy to follow recipes

The methods for cooking the dishes are lucidly broken down and look easy to follow.

I’ve already earmarked a handful that I look forward to cooking. The list includes BBQ pulled pork and First Nations’ ‘Indian tacos’.

There’s also a handful recipes from North East England. They include stotty cake (flat bread) and fat rascals (a type of indulgent scone), that I may be tempted to try.

Lavender and Lovage is a proper cookbook. Reading it made me want to head into the kitchen and cook.

Further information

Lavender and Lovage: A Culinary Notebook of Memories and Recipes from Home and Abroad was published by Passageway Press and is available via Amazon:


Stuart Forster, the author of this book review, has been published by the Daily Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and The Melbourne Age.

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A version of this review was initially published on Go Eat Do on 2 December 2018.

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