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The Original 'DELIA - HOW TO CHEAT AT COOKING' book!
on 25 March 2008
n.b. - this review is for the 1980 paperback version, 11th impression - Coronet Books - Hodder and Stoughton/0340168765.
(for information - © Delia Smith 1971. First published 1971/Ebury Press)
From the back cover:
'Have you always wanted to be a good cook but never had the time?
Do modern convenience foods set you free from the kitchen? Or do you find them dull and tasteless? Delia Smith, cookery writer for the 'Evening Standard', believes that you can easily have the best of two worlds. She shows you how to escape long hours of kitchen drudgery by a little clever 'cheating'.
Basing her recipes on quick convenience foods - canned, frozen, dehydrated and pre-cooked - the cookery author shows how to add your own special touches to delight family and friends. Meal-times come around all too often.
If you have better things to do than slave over a hot stove, this is the book for you.'
Paperback covers open to 176 pages, split into main chapters:
♦ The Cheat's Charter
♦ The Cheat's Kitchen:
~ (i) Equipment
~ (ii) Store-cupboard
~ (iii) Herbs and Spices
~ (iv) Entertaining Hints
♦ Chicken and Duck
♦ Meat, Stews and Casseroles
♦ Menu Suggestions
along with an introduction, a selective list of mail order shops (at the time) and miscellaneous tips/hints sections, plus a full index.
From the introduction:
'If you're one of those dedicated cooks who is a keen early-morning mushroom gatherer and wouldn't dream of concocting a salad without using the 'just-picked' variety, then this book is not for you.
The following pages are for those who like to eat and entertain, who want to cook, but simply don't have the will or the time to spend hours shopping, preparing or cooking. The recipes are aimed at helping you to use fresh and convenience foods to prepare meals reasonably quickly...'
Each chapter opens with a charming black and white line drawing, from Ivan Ripley, which heads up the list of recipes. Then follows general narrative written in typical Delia fashion, e.g. SOUPS:
'This chapter is, with no apologies, an exercise in disguising. The one thing that any cheat has to come to terms with straight away is the fact that the majority of packet and canned soups on their own taste like packet and canned soups.
And more than that, the better a canned soup is, the more widely it will be used and the quicker your family and guests will recognise it.
Now your truly dedicated soup-maker spends hours in the kitchen with bones, stockpots, endless simmerings and strainings. And, of course, the result is invariably excellent.
What we cheats have to do is get as good a result as they do with the minimum of effort. The simple fact for us to grasp, then, is that `somebody has already done all this hard work for us,' when we use cans and packets. We come into our own by making 'their' efforts taste like homemade soup.
In other words we go straight to the creative part...'
Recipes are in a fairly small text, with more than one to a page.
Having said that, they are clearly laid out and easy to follow, with the title, list of ingredients, and method along with the number of servings. This book is further enhanced by a recipe 'key' which indicates, via a 3-symbol system, whether the recipe requires:
♦ Cooking Ahead
♦ Up to 30 mins. Prep/Cooking time
♦ Over 30 mins. Prep/Cooking time
* Italian Bean and Pasta Soup
* Cream of Vegetable Soup
* Blender Gazpacho
* Kipper Pâté
* Spiced Grapefruit
* Egg Mayonnaise
* Cod Baked in Foil
* Baked Salmon with Cucumber Sauce
* Supermarket Paella
* Chicken Casserole
* Chicken Chasseur
* Cold Duck with Orange Salad
* Pork Chops Baked with Cream and Mushrooms
* Mustard Glazed Lamb Chops
* Beef Pot Roast
* Kidneys in Jacket Potatoes
* Lancashire Hotpot
* Beef Goulash
* Spaghetti Bolognaise
* Onion Rice
* Ratatouille Provençale
* Cherry Sauce
* Tartare Sauce
* Banana Butterscotch Pudding
* Mont Blanc
* Apple Crumble Cake
* Fresh Strawberry Fool
* Farmhouse Treacle Tart
* Black Forest Gateau
* Shortcut Icing
Typical of a book of this era, there are no glossy photographs - just the line drawings, as previously mentioned.