Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
on 29 December 2012
I was disappointed in the amount of "learning" in the first 140 odd pages. The first actual recipe, gazpacho, is on page 143. I would agree that the budding chef(ette) needs to know the stuff at the front of this book but just throwing it at them all in one go with no enjoyable bits (like actually cooking something) may put the keen eager chef-to-be right off and I do think most of it will be forgotten by the next page turn. I think it would have been much better to introduce the techniques at the time they are needed for any particular recipe.
In a similar vein the section on wine at the beginning of the book is very comprehensive and maybe it would just be better to name a certain type of wine in the ingredients list for a recipe and have just a simple note explaining why that wine is best used in the cooking of that dish. Choosing wine to drink with any particular dish is so subjective that I feel it is out of place in a cookery book and anyway if you want to drink a dainty Chablis with a Tindaloo/Vindaloo then that is your choice.
Anyway onto the recipes and straightaway I don't much like the style. For example that first recipe calls for a "mild" Spanish onion. Is this an ordinary Spanish onion as they are mostly all milder than standard brown onions or am I to look for a Spanish onion that is milder than most other Spanish onions. Does it matter? I would suspect that as long as you use an ordinary Spanish onion you will be OK and there is no need to complicate matters and thus possibly confusing a novice by stating mild.
Then as we progress through more soups we come across glossy pictures of food that is in no way related to the soup section. Why?
In the ingredients for scrambled eggs on toast, p538, the ingredients list calls for 1 slice of crustless buttered toast but the recipe requires bread. Yes this is a small point but it was the first recipe I looked at when idly flicking through the book and I wonder how many other inconsistencies there are.
The tips on cooking eggs on page 536 do not work for me. I much prefer the Delia method and timings and always get great results. Three minutes in simmering water gave me an uncooked egg with runny white. I have found that the yellow green rim to the yolk of a hardboiled egg can be avoided if the egg is cooled immediately under cold running water.
Next I looked at the steaks and here we are informed of the chefs trick to press the meat to ascertain the doneness. I am sure professional chefs with years of experience can do this but I can't. This is despite all the advice (other books etc) stating that it is similar to pressing the side of a clenched fist. I would prefer to follow the advice of Americas Test Kitchen and use a instant read thermometer.
I moved Delia off my shelf to make way for this book but I am bringing Delia back. I honestly do not think I will bother with this book again which is so disappointing as I was really looking forward to this book.