124 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Ditch your Ramsey and Oliver shelf ornaments..., 12 Jan 2009
...because this is one of only two cookbooks you need ever really buy, if indeed you are genuinely an enthusiastic cook. As opposed to most people who are either looking for glossy tomes to brighten up their bookshelves or who are simply difficult people to buy for at Christmas.
As a genuinely enthusiastic amateur cook, I'm far too busy in the kitchen to get properly wordy about this, but suffice to say that Gill Holcombe is exactly what a decent cookbook writer should be: unpretentious, honest and fearless of taking a make-do-and-mend approach in the kitchen. As a result, this book is full of "if you haven't got the herbs, it doesn't really matter" type advice. In stark contrast, then, to the absurdly humourless stuff being churned out by our Michelin-starred betters who consider any departure from their carefully-described hallowed 'jus' as an insult to their genius. (Heston Blumenthal: 'In Pursuit of Perfection'? Are you SERIOUS?)...
All the recipes I've tried from this book - and unlike ANY other cookbook in my house, ever, I had tried at least half a dozen within a week of buying it - were great, but the recipes for fish and for baking were particularly so. Some were basic, and shamelessly and entirely self-confidently so, but some were absolute gems that I raved about to friends for weeks, such as the apple cake that you can make in one bowl that looks a mangled mess when it goes in the oven and miraculously transforms itself into something quite beautiful within.
If you do nothing but cook every meal from this book for a year you will be very well fed.
And richer, to boot, because Gill isn't one to spend money where a store cupboard fall-back will do just as well.
The other book you need, by the way, which deserves its thoroughly well-thumbed position alongside this one, is Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. Our Nige is, like Gill Holcombe, not a professional chef, but simply a greedy amateur who understands food. All his writing is good, but Kitchen Diaries is the best of the lot.
That's enough, I'm off to do a bit of baking.