Leiths Cookery Bible
is an old-fashioned cook book in the best possible sense. It's not that the recipes are out of date--though the traditional favourites such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding are present and correct--but that this isn't a volume written around gorgeous colour photographs so perfect they actually put the average home chef off even attempting the dishes for fear of failure. That said, there are 64 pages of very nice pictures.
Leiths concentrates on information: a 100-page primer covering conversion tables, cookery terms, menu planning, calculating quantities, presentation, serving, healthy eating, nutrition, food safety, storage, leftovers, freezing food, equipment and wine, and a further 740 large pages of very detailed recipes that are unambiguous, precise and easy to follow. Especially helpful is the fact that all measurements are given in imperial and metric, and all temperatures in Fahrenheit as well as Celsius.
Written in a practical, straightforward style, Leiths doesn't try to entertain and the recipes are as free from gimmicks and pretension as the prose: you won't learn here how to prepare anything which looks more suited to a contemporary art gallery than a dining table. Instead there are hundreds of recipes for every occasion from a quick and easy family meal to an upscale dinner party, all of which have been tested repeatedly during 27 years of the Leiths School of Food and Wine.
The result in this third edition is the inclusion of dozens of "new classics"--the fresh, imaginative cooking that has been such an inspiration for today's chefs. It has meant that Oriental, Indian, South American and vegetarian dishes have come into their own. It has meant due regard for healthy eating, alongside the "haute cuisine" of rich butter sauces and high-cholesterol puddings and the hearty, homely cooking of the modern brasserie.
Also included are useful sections on the preparation of all the main types of meat and fish, though for more detailed coverage of kitchen craft Leiths Techniques Bible is the place to go. Otherwise, this is the perfect one-stop shop for anyone wanting a practical, functional guide on how to cook just about anything. --Gary S Dalkin
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