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The Gentle Art of Cookery (Classic Voices in Food) [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Mrs C.F. Leyel , Miss Olga Hartley
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Sep 2011 Classic Voices in Food
Part of a striking upheaval in attitudes to food and cooking between the wars, The Gentle Art of Cookery was published to immediate success in 1921, providing a level of detail that was unusual amongst its contemporaries, while inspiring its readers with its daring recipe selection. With chapters entitled 'Dishes from the Arabian Nights', 'The Alchemist's Cupboard', and a collection of startlingly original 'Flower Recipes', in which renowned herbalist Hilda Leyel and her assistant Olga Hartley revive the medieval use of flowers for food with recipes such as Rose Ice Cream, Nasturtium Salad, and Marmalade of Violets, this book can't help but capture the imagination of even the most jaded of recipe readers. With its intensely modern focus on vegetables - six chapters devoted to vegetables, pulses, nuts and grains - revival of old tastes and suggestions of new ones, this book points towards the sophisticated work of modern molecular gastronomy and demonstrates how elegant and innovative British food can be. Classic Voices in Food is a significant new series bringing you a fascinating perspective on the tastes of times gone by, as well as delicious recipes, engaging text and original illustrations that will draw you in and leave you hungry for more. Reproduced unabridged from the finest texts on food in English from the 19th to the mid-20th century, each voice conveys the unique flavour of its times, while still being astonishingly relevant to today's cook. Filled with passion, enthusiasm and, above all else, a timeless understanding of good food, the Classic Voices in Food series is an essential new source of reference and inspiration for all food lovers.

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The Gentle Art of Cookery (Classic Voices in Food) + Modern Cookery for Private Families (Classic Voices in Food) + Simple French Cooking for English Homes (Classic Voices in Food)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Quadrille Publishing Ltd (5 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844009823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844009824
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Hilda Leyel (1880-1957), who wrote under the name Mrs. C. F. Leyel, was an expert on herbalism and founded the Society of Herbalists (later the Herb Society) in England in 1927, as well as opening the Culpeper Shops chain of herbalist stores. Author of a book on herbalism, called Elixirs of Life, Leyel was also a fellow of the Royal Institution, and an officer of the Academie Francaise. Suffragist, journalist and author of the post-war novel Anne, Miss Olga Hartley was Hilda Leyel's assistant, and helped her with the writing of The Gentle Art of Cooking.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully matter of fact! 17 Nov 2011
By Urvashi
This book is based on menus Mrs Leyel served to friends as well as an excellent section at the end called The Alchemist's Cupboard which suggests ingredients to have in every kitchen store cupboard. There are recipes from across the UK, such as Daisy Wine from Yorkshire, as well as simple ones from Europe such as Keesel from Russia - a thick apricot curd-like pudding served with cream.

There is a conversion chart at the beginning of the book which is much needed because some of the recipes use measures I had never heard of such as 'a peck', and 'a gill'. The former being equal to 9 litres and the latter 150ml. It also outlines oven temperatures based on a conventional oven as all the recipes in the book use Cool, Low, Hot etc.

I love the way this book is chaptered. It starts with Sauces and a bold statement in the introduction that 'in England sauces are often badly made, badly mixed or not flavoured at all'. The range of sauces that is then presented must have been quite mind blowing for readers. One that I did try was Garlic Sauce which is simply olive oil with pounded almonds and garlic. I had it drizzled over some steamed fish and it was delicious!

The next chapter focuses on vegetables which she describes as 'the dividing line between good and indifferent cooking'. So true. Mrs Leyel berates the English 'method of stewing vegetables in water and then throwing away the water containing the most valuable properties' and calls this 'stupid and not economical'. It would have been great to see her telling Downtown Abbey's cook this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely period feel to this pretty book 23 April 2012
This is one of the Classic Voices in Food series re-issued by Quadrille in wonderful tactile cloth bindings that make you appreciate that these are books as much for reading as for cooking from.

Having said that, there is much of practical note to relish here. The chapters are grouped roughly by food group, and seem to be practical and easy to follow. They assume a knowledge of cookery that some modern cookbooks may not, so you will be told to "make a white roux" and add to milk to make a sauce. No detailed quantities of butter and flour are given, so it is obvious that the cook is supposed to be experienced enough to know how much he or she might need for the amount of liquid given.

But this is typical of cookbooks of this period (The Gentle Art of Cookery was first published in 1925) when most households with an income sufficient to merit an interest in their food, would have had a cook. It strikes me that this book is aimed at the genteel lady of the house who may want to dabble a little when cook had her day off. This isn't a criticism by the way, I love cookery books like this that evoke the time and feeling of an age now gone and unlikely ever to return. You just need a little more thought and understanding of your craft than you will find in a modern step-by-step recipe book.

Hilda Leyel was unusual in her time for her use of flowers, spices and herbs, and the chapter on the use of flowers in cookery is fascinating.

A useful and interesting book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is one of a series of books published by Quadrille in the Classic Voices in Food series, reflecting recipe books of years gone by, this one from the series covers the gentle art of cookery. The chapters are divided up by sauces, vegetables, chestnuts (a whole chapter!), mushrooms, fish, eggs, meat, cold supper dishes, dishes from the arabian nights, rice, poultry and game, fruit, almonds, creams custards and jellies, sandwiches and savouries, wines and cups, cooking with children, flower recipes, cakes and finally the alchemists cupboard.

This is quite a decent size book with some 400+ pages. There are no photographs or pictorial illustrations as it is wholly text. It is reproduced to reflect the way recipes were written at the time. The recipes are remarkably simple (as the title infers) and easy to follow, and consist of just a few sentences in many cases. It's intriguing to compare books like this to current food/drink books from modern chefs, this book was first published in 1925 and little has changed in some respects, for example, a soup recipe then is not that dissimilar to now.

Some of the quantities in this book are huge, and though the recipes are perfectly doable and seem relatively easy to make they require a little bit of judgement both in execution and being able to translate some of the cake recipes into more family sized amounts (any ginger cake with 3lbs flour at its heart is going to be one really big cake no matter how tasty it is!).

If you are a novice cook, I think you would find a good number of these recipes more easy to follow than those of current TV chefs, which may surprise you. If you are a cook that relies heavily on seeing the finished dishes illustrated with photographs, then this book may not suit your style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Bound and Historically Interesting 21 Sep 2011
These books look amazing. If you like to own books, feel them, sniff them, display them on your shelves and slightly drool over the quality of the paper and feel a bit pleased when there is a little satin bookmark.....these are just the books you are looking for. They are from a new series called Classic Voices in Food. They are re-published 19th-mid 20th century forgotten classic cookery tomes.

The binding of The Gentle Art of Cookery is beautiful: a deep green cover embossed with a silver dandelion and contrasting scarlet edged thick pages. I'm won over already. Originally published in 1925, one of the authors, Mrs C F Leyel, was a bit ahead of her time in the use of herbs and spices and includes quite a few Arabic dishes that would have been seen as very modern at the time. I particularly love The Alchemist's Cupboard section at the end of the book where she tells you all the best London shops where you should buy your Mushroom Ketchup, Parisian Essence (qu'est-ce que c'est?) and Cream of Hominy (dried maize kernels).

There's a hilarious recipe, The Ostrich Egg, that had me creased up. It is suggested that children will be enchanted if you get a pig's bladder and via a convoluted method, cook 12 eggs inside it so that you end up with one enormous giant boiled egg. My children would certainly be surprised if I made this and might think their mother had gone bananas.

The recipes are simple, a couple of lines long and don't specify quantities of ingredients. It's all far more free form than our modern recipe books. I love the old-fashioned-ness of recipes such as Prune Soup, Devilled Lobster, Green Foie Gras Sandwich (foie gras, slices of chicken and lettuce dipped in French dressing in between bread).
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