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November 28, 2021


#AusReadingMonth 2021 Cookbook nr 4

by N@ncy

  • Author: Danielle Alvarez
  • Title: Always Add Lemon
  • Published: 2020
  • Trivia: Danielle Alvarez is the chef behind Sydney restaurant Fred’s.
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #NonFicNov 2021
  • #AusReadingMonth2021 @bronasbooks
  • #AWW 2021


Quick Scan:

  • Of all the cookbooks I review for #AusReadingMonth 2021
  • Danielle Alvarex is the chef with the most impressive credentials!
  • Born to a food-loving Cuban family in Miami.
  • She trained at some of the most prestigious restaurants in California:
  • The French Laundry, then Boulettes Larder and finally Chez Panisse.
  • She brought these culinary talents with her to Sydney in 2016.
  • Ms Alvarez asked her to head up and design the kitchen the new  restaurant, Fred’s.



  • Ms Alvarez sets the cooking bar very high!
  • I thought I would dip into her book and select a recipe and have
  • ….a meal quickly on the table.
  • Little did I know, the author expects the reader to be a bit more serious!
  • The book is full of beautiful, culinary inspiration,
  • …but I found the recipes somewhat unapproachable.
  • I became anxious just thinking of cooking Ms Alvarez’s suggestions.
  • There are so many ways to go wrong.
  • Funny, I am the only one in the kitchen…and eating my food
  • …but still I feel judged (by myself) when I create a disaster.
  • Looking at the photo’s of perfect food….by a master chef
  • …intimidates me.


Personal Challenge:

  • At first glance ….these recipes look  a little too time-consuming.
  • They feel more suited for a restaurant professional.
  • The language felt complicated, ingredients that I had to look
  • up in the culinary dictionary!
  • Every time I decided to cook
  • something I was discouraged halfway reading the instructions!
  • I put the book away for weeks….just postponing the inevitable.



  • Section: salads (17 recipes) I’m making the first 7 salads.
  • As you can see many ingredients are not available for this mere mortal
  • …and that is what makes many delicious recipes feel “unapproachable”
  • I will improvise and do my best!


  1. Beetroot (yellow)persimmons (not available)  – feta, honey, pistachio nuts and
  2. Aleppo chili flakes ( not available..use ordinary flakes)


  1. Update: 
  2. Best replacement or persimmon is a peach or nectarine.
  3. It is Autumn and…these fruits are NOT is season.
  4. I just used thinly sliced oranges.
  5. Yellow beets..who would have thought!
  6. My first attempt at Danielle Alvarez’s (top-chef) starters in
  7. …her book Always Add Lemon.
  8. No persimmon in my neck of the woods
  9. …so I just used thinly sliced oranges.
  10. This salad takes planning but is delicious.
  11. You would easily pay 12-15 euro for this starter in a restaurant


  1. Fig and goat’s curd salad – smokey paprika vinaigrette
  2. (ingredient for dressing pimentón de La Vera dulce….not available)
  3. Tomato salad with sumac, onions, tahini yoghurt (not avaliable...
  4. I’ll make it with yogurt and sesame paste) – fennel
  5. Tomato and fried crouton salad with olive oil packed tinned tuna – capers
  6. Cucumbers with mustard vinaigrette and dille
  7. Belgian Endive (…radicchio (not available) with bagna cuda
  8. (Ms Alvarez raves about this dipping sauce) and walnut oil
  9. Zucchini with mint, lemon and bottarga
  10. (not available…and it is just as well, sounds vile, see Google)


Strong point:

  • The book is a well-made beautiful book
  • …feels luxurious with high quality paper.
  • So impressed the images that I’ll add the links to the
  • photographer Benito Martin
  • stylist Jessica Johnson
  • …just take a look at their portfolio’s ….creative genius!



Pg 16:  How to dress a salad – Chardonnay and honey vinaigrette

  1. I have NO chardonnay or sherry vinegar.
  2. Substitute:  balsamic vinagar
  3. Substitute: Listau Sherry ….made with grapes grown in the Jerez area of Spain.
  4. Lustau sherry is the industry’s gold standard
  5. a sweet sherry from Pedro Ximenz grapes.
  6. Jury:  unanimous vote…this is a keeper!
  7. Lessons learned: 
  8. I did not know that a salad dressing should marinate 15 min before using!
  9. Always use just-washed hands (not tongs)…you need to feel the dressing coating the leaves!
  10. Taste….more salt? ….more honey?….more vinegar?
  11. Different salad leaves require different amounts of dressing
  12. …bitter radiicchio needs more dressing/salt
  13. …delicate leaf like arugula (rucloa) wants smallest amount of dressing
  14. …gentle touch just to coat them.



  1. Ms Alvarez challenges me again on pg 17 “Salsa Verde”.
  2. Original recipe was too salty for me (capers and anchovies).
  3. If I make this again I would reduce the acid (vinagar or lemon juice) and oil by half!
  4. I would use 1/2 amount of  the “salty elements”
  5. ..and drain the shallots of vinegar and only
  6. add the shallots to the condiment.
  7. I froze  1 TB portions to be thawed in the fridge…worked perfectly.
  8. I TB is thawed within 5 mi…and I used it mixed
  9. into my mashed potatoes!
  10. Jury: Lovely burst of flavor, dille, chives, honey and parsely.


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 29 2021

    I confess I thought the same as you when I looked through this book at work.
    I thought the tricky ingredients might be ones only available in Australia, but I didn’t recognise most of them either! Sounds like one would need a trip to a specialist food shop.

    But then I was like that the first few times I tried an Ottolenghi recipe. I now have most of the basic ingredients he likes to use in my pantry and he & I are best friends 🙂


    • Nov 29 2021

      Some cookbooks should be a challenge…
      I enjoy stocking up on new ingredients (Bill Granger’s Asian theme)
      …and Danielle is just such a professional…she bring my cooking level up a notch!
      I have Ottolenghi’s PLENTY and SWEET..I should have a look at them again.
      Another one of my favorites is by Zoe Francois from Minneapolis, Minnesota and is an expert on baking and cake-making recipes. I wonder if her book “Zoe Bakes Cakes” in Australian bookstores? I made my birthday cake following Zoe’s recipe on page 77!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 29 2021

        No Zoe here, lots of Aussie cake makers to fill out shelves!!


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