Her simple, scratch-made recipes are bringing us back to the kitchen as the season changes. Recently, we spoke with Yvette about her book, Home Made, and what she's up to in the kitchen.
terrain: Where did the idea for Home Made come from? The premise seems steeped in tradition - did you grow up preparing food this way with your family, or was it something you came to later in life?
Yvette: Yes, well I grew up in Ireland in the 70's, there wasn't much to buy in the shops at that time, so I think I was brought up that way. I was always fond of cooking, so from a very young age I made and drew little cookbooks of recipes I learnt from my mum and her friends.
I've always wanted to make a huge cookbook, but never had the time to do it. I've been saving up recipes all my life, but was looking for a reason to make a book from scratch, something similar all the recipes had in common. It turned out that my cooking was about finding out how to make things in a simple way, from scratch, and doing it yourself. This is the way we cook in our restaurant, this is the way I cook at home. If I had an olive tree, I would even make my own olive oil.
So I took a year off and started on it, I've never had more fun in my whole life.
terrain: Your book seems like a true labor of love. It amazes us that in addition to writing all of the recipes, you prepared all of the food in the photos, illustrated the recipes and designed the book yourself. What inspired you to take on every step of the process?
Yvette: Well I think that comes from being a teeny bit stubborn, always wanting to do things my way. I work as a food stylist, chef, recipe writer and illustrator, in the past I had a design office with my sister and I'm married to a photographer. I just thought, "Well, why wouldn't I combine everything we do into one big thing?" It's actually great to work like that. One day I feel more like designing, the other I like to cook.
terrain: What bit of advice would you give to the busy home cook who wants to incorporate a more scratch-made approach to the kitchen?
Yvette: If you enjoy cooking, but you don't a lot of time during the week, why not make some preserves on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? I always make far too much jam or pickles, but it saves me time during the week. Then you can use some canned food, infused oils, or home dried tea from your own shelf and you know it's good, you made it yourself!
terrain: What does dinner look like on a typical night in your kitchen?
Yvette: Oh that depends, we actually both like to cook! Because we both work hard, long days, we like to sit down and eat something nice together. We're always late, but we always eat something nice. And far too much! Sometimes I cook from other cookbooks, sometimes I see what's in the fridge and try to be creative with the things we have.
Above image from Home Made, by Yvette van Boven. Photography by Oof Verschuren. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $40