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4.7 out of 5 stars32
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 September 2005
This is *the* definitive cookery bible, as far as I'm concerned. Every single page makes you drool. Recipes go from the very simple -- jam tarts to make with your kids -- to classics (poulet a la creme, which I made tonight, o yum), via some of her own personal favourites. I'm obsessed with cookery books and have shelves full of them, but I may have to stop my quest... I do believe this is The One, whether you're young or old, competent or not. Beautifully written, too. Better than Nigel Slater and better than Nigella, even. Buy it.
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on 20 September 2007
A cover quote from 'Sainsbury's Magazine', which well describes this weighty tome, in my opinion!

The dust-jacket flap goes on to say:

'This is a one-stop cookbook equally useful for the complete beginner or the experienced cook looking for inspiration.

There are 500 recipes covering every aspect of cooking at home - the simplest things, hearty budget dishes, the classics and new favourites...'I have to confess that the undertaking of a book such as this is bound to fill the writer with fears of inadequacy for the task ahead and dread of the sins of omission. For as much as I want people of all levels, ages and skills to be able to turn to these pages and cook up a storm, find the recipe they want, the dish they can't find anywhere else, the method they understand, it can't pretend to be all things to all people. I would rather people read these pages for inspiration, knowing that they might find something they'd never cooked, never heard of or never dared to try and just got cooking.
It is not meant to be a manual.
I start and finish with one principle where food and eating are concerned, the pleasure principle.
The rest is up to you in your kitchen.'

Tamasin explains things clearly other cookbooks tend to assume, including:

* how to cook eggs
* make scones,
* deal with fish,
* coordinate a roast,
* cook game,
* master mayonnaise and custard
* rescue a split sauce

often via informative sections known as `The Lowdown' and easily identified by turquoise blue text which aim for success, along with similarly laid out notes about, e.g.:

* Puddings and Dinner Party Lore, Couscous, Risotto and Béchamel Dishes

A useful 'disaster identification' section in 'Cakes' is particularly useful with indicators as to why a cake has turned out coarse-textured, damp and heavy, has sinking fruit, has sunk in the middle or created an unwanted peaked tip!
Yes, it is true to say that it has been done before, but this 'bible' does it with ... a little.....something extra and pays more attention to those details the less experienced cook might require to keep a steady hand in the kitchen.

Hardboard covers open to 511 shiny high quality pages split over main chapters:

(1) Easy Things
(2) Simple Skills
(3) Frugal Food
(4) Christmas Countdown
(5) Classic Recipes
(6) Fool-proof Favourites
(7) Serious Skills

sandwiched between an introduction and sections entitled:

* 'The Kitchen'
* 'Store Cupboard'
* 'Seasonal British Diary'
along with a list of suppliers and a concise index.

Each chapter title page has a list of the sub-sections, e.g.:

'Easy Things':

* Sweet Treats
* Scones
* Savoury Snacks
* Pancakes
* Easy Cakes

followed by a two-page spread of typical T.D-L narrative.

Each recipe is clearly laid out with the title, an opening text, the number of servings, the list of ingredients, sub-divided (if applicable), and the method.

A tiny taste of the other recipes contained within:

* Victoria Sponge
* Pasta Dishes
* Cauliflower Cheese
* Dressings
* Soups
* Fish and Chips
* Pot-Roast Brisket with Root Vegetables
* Confit of Duck with Potatoes Browned in Goose Fat
* Spare Ribs in Chinese-style Barbecue Sauce
* Sunday Roasts and all the trimmings
* Chocolate Marble Cake
* Welsh Rarebit
* Pilav
* Irish Stew
* Moules Marinière
* Boeuf Bourguignonne
* Belly of Pork and Beans
* Tasmanian Lemon Pie
* Batters
* Steak
* Toad in the Hole
* Baked Rice Pudding
* Gruyère Soufflé
* Pommes Dauphinois
* Ratatouille
* A Simple Flatbread
* Crab Apple Jelly
* Courgette Chutney
* Rumtopf
* Mince Pies

.........speaking of which, with Christmas just around the corner (at the time of writing), a 'dedicated chapter' is just the tonic one needs, before the panic really sets in! Spanning pages 196-249, it is split into sub-sections:

* 3-2-1 Days Before Christmas
* Christmas Eve
* Christmas Day
* The Vegetables
* Things to Cook over Christmas and New Year
* Soups
* Brunch
* Christmas and New Year Puddings
* Jelly and Ice Creams

I simply adore the recipe for 'Raspberry Christmas Trifle', page 245, which is described as 'a rich but softly delicious pudding that slips down surreptitiously, despite your misgivings on the calorific front.......
This is no mere trifle and it is full of hidden depths.'
And, the finished dish certainly is.....all of that!

A slight criticism - but not enough to drop an entire star, in my opinion - the amount of photography contained in this 500 recipe volume is a little on the light side, but what is pictured is simply wonderful with full credit to David Loftus, as always!
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on 31 October 2005
I remember being given a copy of Delia's Complete Cookery by my Mum soon after I left home. Sadly, Delia never inspired me to get into the kitchen and cook in the way that Tamasin's Kitchen Bible has. Starting off easy with treats such as Jam Tarts and cookies this book takes you on the gentlest of learning curves until you realise that you are able to cook far more than you thought.. I loved realising that by following the Jam Tarts recipe you learn how to make a basic pastry (something I've always been nervous of) and by making Macaroni Cheese (the proper way!) you've learnt how to make a basic Bechamel sauce. Genius. I loved finding recipes for these childhood favorites and I'm now feeling confident enough to tackle the slightly harder things further on in the book.
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on 10 April 2006
I have a lot of cookery books but this one has quickly found a new and lasting place in my affections.
As I looked through it there were so many recipes that I instantly decided I have to cook. It's got the basics that you want to cook everyday - from cakes, pasta sauces, lasagne, chocolate mousse, coq au vin, irish stew, boeuf carbonnade, lamb with flageolet beans, chicken liver pate, gammon with fresh parsely sauce, lemon meringue pie, jams, fools, pannacotta, custards etc to more exciting recipes that are bit unusual but that still sound delicious and unfussy and would be great for cooking for friends - like yoghurt lemon and poppy cake, rose geranium cream, belly of pork with beans, cinnamon icecream, broad bean pilav, partridge with lentils and lardons, cod cakes with kaffir lime leaves or lemon risotto and dozens more.
I like Delia, Jamie, Simon Hopkinson, Claudia Roden, Hugh F-W and many more and was very pleasantly surprised by this book. Lots that I want to cook!
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on 8 November 2006
This book is just does not have the same snobby tones as other kitchen guides and simply shows that good ingredients are the starting point of any good meal.This is not a bossy guide of how to cook or how to be a hip foody......but a fabulous way to make real food,for real people.I adore Tamasin and her firm belief in using good quality produce,and organic if possible.

If you are like me and purchased the trendy cook books...only to find them full of food you and your friends dont want to eat..............this is for you..............5 STARS
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on 3 November 2006
An excellent book - beautifully written and a must for quality basic and the more involved recipes - her cornflake cakes are the best! This is a great book for cooks experienced or not, her drive for the best ingredients is inspiring and their use in unpretentious, good food makes eating a joy!
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on 16 September 2007
Bought this after watching some of TDL's programmes and found it was not only full of recipes that I would wish to try (or come back to) as a seasoned cook, but a great read as well. It went away to university with my first born, who was taught the rudiments at home - but used to mum doing the actual work! The book has been thoroughly and successfully used , not only by my offspring but his flat-mates as well. This has resulted in my purchase of a second copy for home. I think a third will be needed soon when number 2 flies the nest for the higher annals of learning.
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on 26 October 2005
This is an excellent family cookbook. When I received this book, I was sceptical in a small way, to see if it lived up to the hype that my friends had created!
It does, simple as that.
I have three young children and one way or another I would like to teach them to cook good, nutritious, seasonal food. This book does it completely and is a joy to have in the kitchen.
Any book that starts off with baking biscuits and cakes, especially jam tarts, should be recommended to any household! Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
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on 23 May 2009
I bought this book a couple of years ago, mainly as a result of reading the many glowing reviews on Amazon! While I think it is a decent cookbook and worth having as a reference guide for classic recipes, there aren't that many of her own recipes that I've been tempted to try, other than the tarts section which is excellent - it's certainly worth looking at her 'Art of the Tart'.

My main objection is her writing style, which I find very irritating - story after story of her rebellions against the institutional canteen food of her school and Cambridge college and how her children have done the same and won competitions, written books and so on get a little wearing. As other reviewers have pointed out, a lot of the book's hefty content is made up of prose rather than recipes. I don't mind this in Nigel Slater's books because I find his style appealing, so whether you like this depends on whether you like her style and tone, which often tends towards the magesterial - for example she launches a tirade against people who make hummus with tinned chickpeas, saying that 'any moron can make hummus' and hummus made with soaked and boiled chickpeas is incomparable. So I dutifully soaked chickpeas overnight and boiled them for a couple of hours to make something which normally takes five minutes - I couldn't taste any difference, it just took a damn sight longer! In this respect she is a little uncompromising, always exhorting the reader to make recipes the 'proper' way rather than the practical, quick or healthy way, e.g. only full fat milk in a bechamel, only soaked and boiled pulses rather than tinned, only a particular cut of meat or type of fish for a recipe, and she doesn't encourage experimentation in the way that Nigel Slater or Jamie Oliver do.

My other gripe about the book is that it is very heavy on desserts. Whereas a normal cookbook has a dessert section, this book has cakes and puddings in all of the chapters. I would estimate that a quarter to a third of the recipes are sweet. I don't make desserts that much, so this is wasted on me.

I would think this book would be good for someone learning to cook as the instructions are precise and quantities exact, but I don't find it particularly interesting or inspiring, so I use it as an occasional reference guide rather than a book I look at frequently.
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on 30 December 2005
This is an excellent book for all those people like me who are not very confident in the kitchen. Tamasin's advice is clear and straightforward and the recipes are easy to follow and delicious. It is obvious she has enjoyed writing the book and sharing her methods and recipes. This is a really good investment - definitely worth five stars.
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