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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2008
An attractively presented, pleasantly written book that does what it claims to: namely, offering a limited selection of basic recipes and tips and ideas on how to adapt them. It is not a comprehensive beginner's guide, but nor was the not-entirely dissimilar 'Appetite' by Nigel Slater, which was extremely well-received. Of the two, I personally prefer this. The principally Anglo-French selection of recipes is more to my taste and I find the recipes to be better written, offering solid advice without being dictatorial.

There are a few typos, notably in the baking section, but nothing that the application of common sense won't sort out.

I must take objection to the reviewer who objected to the given cooking temperatures: maybe it's just my (admittedly dubious) oven, but 325 F for a sponge cake is accurate in my opinion.

Overall, then, a highly useable, comprehensible book. It may not be the flashiest or most exciting on the shelf but for basic technique and some useful recipes, it's excellent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2008
I don't buy a lot of cook books, and so I can't speak with as much authority as some of the other reviewers.

However, having heard the piece on Radio 4 some time ago, I bought two copies - one for my sister and one for my boyfriend for Christmas. As people who don't cook regularly they both absolutely love it and find it full of useful information, including a summary of meat cooking times. I also found it useful to re-affirm some of the recipes I thought I knew!

The style is easy to read without being patronising, and her approach (suggesting what can be added to basic recipes to make other dishes) makes cooking seem much more accessible than a book full of individual and convoluted recipes.

There may well be other books on the market that do something similar, however I would highly recommend this book for either a beginner, or for someone wanting to build up their confidence in the kitchen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2008
An excellent book , just like Xanthe Clay's previous books of readers recipes where her introductions and advice were as useful as the recipes themselves.

Now she has had a chance to show her true cooking colours so to speak and does so adopting a practical and confidence inducing approach yet with delicious results rather than through glossy nonsense and cheffy twaddle .

I agree with the previous reviewer that her Anglo French approach is much more my thing than Appetite was and her style much more ingratiating than Slater's rather coy and arch writing.

Five stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2012
This is only my third book review on Amazon (one of the others is Ten Minutes to Table), but I couldn't believe how few reviews there were for Xanthe's books, so I thought I'd do something about it! My mum bought me this one for Christmas a couple years ago. I had hardly ever cooked anything beyond the basics, despite doing a lot of baking, so this book was great. It gives you enough of a structure to start experimenting with your cooking, even if you haven't been doing it for years. I have a lot of cookbooks now, but the two Xanthe Clay ones are the two I use most!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2010
Heard Xanthe on radio as part of book promotion. Pleased with recipes, layout makes access easy. explains the how to, what to look for, errors you might make, all in all a good buy. I wanted to be able to cook from memory instead of always referring to a recipe. you could use this as a first time cook book as it is simple enough to follow. The recipes are successful- good variety. You will be complimented on results.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2009
This wonderful book has replaced other cook books on my kitchen shelf because I don't need them anymore. These recipes are simple and easily understood. Having described the basics, Xanthe takes the reader onto more interesting recipes with scope for new ideas. It is perfect for those of us who are put off by long lists of ingredients and complicated instructions. The photos are very good, but there aren't enough. A great book for those of us who aren't professional cooks but need to know basic quantities and times and want to experiment further.
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on 25 January 2014
Half of the mystique of cooking is knowing what to cook and this book lays out the recipes clearly. All the hard work has been done and you can always add your ingredients once you have the basic.
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on 3 April 2014
Brought this for my sis in law....she needs some help in the kitchen!!
It's got loads of great tips and recipes.
Definitely would recommend
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on 24 June 2013
If you are looking for basic recipes that you can learn and then adapt this is the book you need. My sister-in-law saw this and ordered one herself.
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on 25 February 2014
It is the only cook book you need, full of suggestions to make every recipe your own. Simple and easy to work with.
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