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Cooking Without Recipes Paperback – 26 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: How To Books (26 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905862814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905862818
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 1.2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Philip Dundas was a BBC Producer until 2007, when he decided to follow two of his greatest passions: writing and cooking. Since then he has written a food blog called where he explores ideas about food and cooking.

Philip was brought up on a farm in Scotland by his adopted parents, where he preferred to snare rabbits and shoot pheasants with a catapult than learn his latin verbs.

His first book 'Cooking without Recipes' was inspired by teaching his elderly widowed father to cook his favourite dishes.

Philip runs a pop-up restaurant called PipsDish where he sources the best ingredients and serves up dinners in unusual venues - currently a disused car repair garage in London.

Philip is also the co-founder of a social enterprise called Agency East dedicated to helping young people facing unemployment and disadvantage. He campaigns against food inequality and poverty in the UK through the charities Magic Breakfast and FoodCycle, both of which seek to change the lives of people by getting access to nutritious food.

Product Description


'Cooking without Recipes liberates you from the tyranny of someone else's culinary imagination. Do your own thing, it says; listen to the food, listen to your stomach and your palate; let cooking become second nature. It is the book my grandmother would have written if she had known how to frame a sentence, which Philip Dundas certainly does. Read, inwardly digest, then throw the book away. This is the first day of the rest of your life in the kitchen.' --From the foreword by Simon Callow

From the Author

Cooking without Recipes is about helping people to achieve their simplest ambitions in the kitchen. The premise is to encourage the self-confidence to make the dishes you want with ingredients which have been a pleasure to buy. Having helped you think about what, when and how you eat, the book shows how it's possible to cook with both information and inspiration. By evaluating what to buy at the supermarket and when at the local market, we'll begin to apply the need to the right outlet, rather than resentfully lumbering home with a car boot full of the usual or a carrier bag of over-priced unusable delicacies from the market.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Marren on 16 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
At a time when obesity is reaching epic proportions and culinary expertise amounts to little more than ordering a take-away or piercing the plastic film on a ready meal this book offers up a solution to problems plaguing British culinary expertise and understanding of the simple basic foods we eat. What it does successfully is re-introduce and re-acquaint the reader with basic knowledge about simple foods and the different ways in which they can be adapted and utilised in creating wholesome healthy meals. It is exactly what it promises on the cover i.e. cooking without recipes as recipes are a bit like diets in that they function best as guidelines that the individual can then embellish or tailor to their own specifications. What really emerges from this book however is the necessary understanding of food in creating a successful, tasty and healthy diet.
Concentrating on the basics such as different types of vegetables, meat, fish, seafood, salads, pastas, rice and various fruits Dundas explains, confirms and debunks certain myths that surround each of these staples and ways to make them more interesting. A section on which potatoes are best for mashing, boiling, roasting or baking-skin on or peeled?- may initially seem unnecessary but proves itself informative about this most basic of foods. Who really knows which type of potato is best for each of these different methods really? Although I am no slouch in the kitchen myself I must admit I have always been slightly wary of artichokes and usually resort to buying them in jars and dripping in oil just to avoid any potential mishaps or culinary disasters. After reading Dundas' appraisal of them however I am now more than willing to try my hand at preparing them myself in future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Javier Leal Olivas on 6 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must say that I looked forward to receive and to read this book, I really did. My expectations were high - while I consider myself an amateur cook and a avid reader of food writing, I have grown tired of the average coffee table cookbook. Fancy photos, strange ingredients and pointless recipes that nobody ends up looking at and let alone cooking, just wasn't my thing. I definitely was excited about reading 'Cooking Without Recipes'.

The starting of the book sounds great, it promises to deliver the readers "the 'how' of cooking, the reactions of heat and taste", but it fails.

The book does go through a list of ingredients and culinary utensils. The author tries to describe them in short paragraphs aiming making us feel more comfortable using them, but he generally falls short on providing the information that us cooks would find interesting knowing. Sometimes I would spend lines reading random facts about an ingredient when I primarily just wanted to know how to cook it.

When I got to the cooking preparations I also felt that the author abused a bit too much of encouraging 'trial and error'. Don't misunderstand me, I believe in trial and error! but I just saw too many times that instead of explaining me how cooking works (which I believe is the topic of the book), he just says something like 'into your pan it goes', without explaining a single more word.
To be honest, I expected to learn a simple explanation of how cooking works. Besides, I think the iniciated cook might feel disencouraged when his or her first trials don't work because of the lack of a minimum knowledge.

Summarising, I did learn things with the book, perhaps random facts and science bits that I didn't know. But the book doesn't succesfully teach me what I need to know to: 1st.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. D. L. Cox on 12 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite other glowing reviews, I was dissapointed with this book.
The book makes repeated efforts to get us to just feel the ingredients and go with the flow. I actually got a bit cross with it.
Here is what I took away from the book...
1) Just experiment and play with ingredients (even if you haven't a clue what flavours go well-some are suggested)
2) Pick up speciality products: only the best rarest certain whatever, from a little village in somewhere will do. (I'm fed up of being told that only certain salt is ok....and who has an artisanal bakery and cheese shop locally?)
3) Never mind if your expensive meal messes up you can do it different next time.(I'm not going to experiment and play about with a meal that costs half of the wekly shopping budget-if a £30 leg of lamb ended in disaster I would cry)
4) hints at ingredients or methods that might go well together-a mish mash of "ooh this might be a good idea" But no actual solid instruction. Ladies and gentleman this is how marmite scrambled egg happens.
5) You should buy lots of foodie/celeb recipe books and read them-then try it yourself. :( I kid you not-this was an overwhelmingly dissapointing flavour throughout the book and why I was so dissapointed. I was after all trying to move away from recipe books-that's why I bought a book that claimed it could help me to cook without one.

What was I expecting? Well really some frameworks. Basic recipe types that could be endlessly adapted. This was hinted at by a mere suggestion of how to make a basic white sauce and other very vague recipe ideas.

My advice.
1) Buy beginner cookbooks or just a plethora of cookbooks. Look on youtube too for techniques and preparation of unfamiliar veg etc.
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