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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've just discovered that I'm a peasant at heart... HURRAH!
After decades of being brainwashed by the food industrial complex to accept only within sell by date, excessively packaged, uniformly shaped tasteless produce, along comes the natural cook Tom Hunt to reprogramme my mind. I am now totally inspired to eat only locally sourced seasonal vegetables with thrifty cuts of meat. If it ain't gnarled and ugly, it doesn't go in...
Published 4 months ago by Calypsopiper

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Have veg box, now what?
There is no shortage of cookery books these days encouraging us to eat locally produced, organic veg, so anything new has to have a unique selling point to make an impact. This one is ingredient centred, which isn't unique (Sarah Raven has written a wonderful through-the-year cookbook) - and I'm not quite sure if Tom is aiming at the seasoned veg lover or the...
Published 4 months ago by Sensible Cat


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've just discovered that I'm a peasant at heart... HURRAH!, 18 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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After decades of being brainwashed by the food industrial complex to accept only within sell by date, excessively packaged, uniformly shaped tasteless produce, along comes the natural cook Tom Hunt to reprogramme my mind. I am now totally inspired to eat only locally sourced seasonal vegetables with thrifty cuts of meat. If it ain't gnarled and ugly, it doesn't go in the pot. Seriously, you'll provide healthy, nutritious fare for your family with style and save a fortune at the same time.

My personal wake up call to how we waste food came a couple of years ago when someone disposed of an elderly relative's canned food store, for no other reason than it being slightly out of date. Now, don't get me started on best before dates on tins of carrots - needless to say, a lot of good food with many years of shelf life ahead of it, was unceremoniously dumped in the bin.

If you don't consider upping your intake of offal, foraging... or even raiding a supermarket skip by the time you have finished this superb book... I'll eat my hat! (recipe not provided)

These are some of my favourite seasonal recipes and suggestions from the book: Stewed rhubarb with sultanas, rum and dark sugar; Rhubarb and pork tagine; Honity Pie; rejuvenating super-soup Pho Chay; Watercress with mechoui lamb and harissa; Radish leaf soup with caraway; Summer pudding; Broad bean and lamb pilaf; Apricot frangipane; Roast pork belly with fennel and turnip; Ox cheek and mushroom stew with chocolate and orange picada; Leek and potato pizza; Pureed cauliflower with poached chicken and vegetables... and Marmalade polenta cake.

I also thoroughly recommend Tom's website - tomsfeast.com.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, practical book that's a joy to cook from, 1 July 2014
By 
Dave C "Condyk" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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This is a beautiful, practical book that's a joy to cook from. The book splits the year into four. No surprise there maybe, but it's easy to forget that our food these days is 24-7 52 weeks in a year. But if you really want fresh and local you have to cook seasonal. This is what this book is all about.

For me the mark of a great cook book is whether I pick it up, flick through and find recipes I actually want to prepare. In this book it's easy. I had a dinner party and found my starter/main and desert here. I mixed sides of Roast Broccoli with Lemon Zest and Olive Oil, then Raw Spring Onions with Chilli and Lime and added a main of Shredded Chicken, Pine Nuts and Basil. I included a bowl of Wild Rice myself just to pad it out, but worked really nicely as a combo. For desert I made thew Marmalade Polenta Cake. I'm not a baker but it was still very nice.

A special mention should go to the photographer. The images are super crisp and bring the food to life. The design is lovely too. It feels like quality and for sure there has been much thought and care gone into it. A fantastic present.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cooking with fruit and veg all year round, 16 July 2014
By 
roses (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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This is a book with inspirational ideas on helping you make the most of your common fruit and veg all year round, and in doing so helps you eat well, waste nothing, save money and also as the author suggests encourages you to buy less meat to help save the environment.

The book is divided into the four seasons of the year focusing on 26 main ingredients that is a mixture of fruit and vegetables, but mostly consist of the latter. The recipes are well presented and accompanied with colourful photography. The instructions are easy to follow and introduces a multitude of ways to cook with the same ingredient, and how to resourcefully use up leftovers via short and easy recipes. A range of dishes are explored included soups, salads, bakes, roasts and smoothies to name a few.

It’s rustic home cooking for those wanting to be health conscious and economise. This is a great book on giving you the basic ideas on making your fruit and veg more exciting, and the simplicity of the recipes means that you are able to easily tweak them and substitute with fruit and vegetables that you prefer or have in your kitchen cupboard.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eat well, eat local, eat (and cook) in good time, 30 Jun 2014
By 
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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Tom Hunt's The Natural Cook is rather more than just another book of visual food porn, tempting you into your kitchen to try (and fail) to produce stunning results after a lot of time, heavy duty shopping and sourcing of rare ingredients shipped by rocket from Mars. Or at least air freight from across the world.

Hunt's mission is to help us save our money, save our time, delight our eyes, taste-buds and tums, at a price which doesn't cost the earth for future generations.

Although this is not a vegetarian cookbook (which will probably delight many) the star performers here are players from the vegetable, rather than animal, kingdom.

Divided initially into four quarters, to mark the four seasons, Hunt picks a few plant `stars' typical of the season, and then gives a good 8 to 10 recipes with that star player as main ingredient. He offers 3 methods of preparation for each, and then sundry recipes involving that method. Advice is also given on the storage of left-overs from each recipe and indeed where it would be advisable to make extra in order to have freezer food for later.

A full list of the `players' available in their right season is also given

His aim is to reduce food waste to a minimum, so ways of using left-overs are also included, making them part of other dishes.

This is all high end, easy prep (for the most part) gourmet, healthy, delicious and stylish food - designed to make the cook and the diner feel equally good and delighted, without sacrificing hedonic pleasure to dutiful , healthy, but rather dull eating.

As mentioned earlier, it is not a vegetarian cookbook, I guess a good quarter of the recipes involve inexpensive cuts of meat or fish, but certainly some of the meaty or fishy numbers could I think be adapted by the vegetarian cook, using tofu or pulses, as for the most part the flesh food is more Eastern and Mediterranean in quantity - if a recipe includes meat it is in smaller amounts, not groaning trenchers of severed limbs and the like - hence the possibility of replacing, for example, a recipe of asparagus and mackerel sashimi with pickled ginger, orange and soy dressing with smoked tofu in place of the fish.

In a sense, though undoubtedly delivered with style and panache, Hunt's recipes invitingly call out to the home cook to adapt and experiment with what you have to hand in YOUR cupboard - it is easy to see these are recipes designed to release your creativity in the kitchen, not stifle it into nervous following of rigid instruction.

I particularly like Hunt's using up everything possible from the cooking process in interesting ways - a lovely example, from our current `apricot season' is, having poached your fresh apricots, perhaps for an apricot melba, reserve the poaching liquid to add to white rum, lime juice and sugar and, hey presto, a daiquiri!

This is a cookery book with a lot of heart, joy, compassion and passion, as well as stuff to make the diner drool with anticipatory pleasure, and the cook happy in that fine dining can be produced without spending a life-time turning a lettuce leaf into something to be submitted for the Turner prize

The look inside lets you see some recipes, so its easy to try `is this my kind of food; do the recipes work; are they do-able or just faff' etc, and the index also gives a fair idea of the recipes.

Hunt, as I think is explained in the look inside section, has based his cooking on excellence in home and traditional dishes - `regional cooking' where the regions take in other countries as well, but this is not about cooking as art form or cooking using fashionably rare and highly exotic ingredients, and you won't need to purchase arcane equipment in order to achieve fabulous results. No foams, no jus, no blowtorches.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational seasonal cooking, 18 Sep 2014
By 
Uncle Barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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I like to cope with plain and simple seasonal, if possible homegrown, ingredients -- so this book seemed right up my street. The recipes are extremely straightforward and each one is beautifully photographed. I like the way that it is sectioned into Seasons, then into things I'm actually growing in the garden and what I can do with them. Featured ingredients are courgettes, broad beans, aubergines, apricots, tomatoes, beetroots, fennel, sweetcorn, apples, mushrooms, carrots, celeriac, pumpkins, leeks, winter greens, turnips, cauliflowers, oranges, asparagus, rhubarb, new potatoes, broccoli, spring onions, watercress, radishes and strawberries. So basically, you can pick the food from your garden or source from your local market and lookIn this book for inspiration.

Many of the recipes are vegetarian or include fish and seafood such as squid or crab. There are only five or so that include meat: lamb shoulder, shoulder of pork, pork belly, chicken and bavette steak. I didn't find this mattered as a non-vegetarian though, because some of the recipes I just paired up with a roast chicken.

It's not low-calorie including ingredients like Greek yoghurt and mascarpone cheese but, from my point of view, high calorie natural ingredients are fine once in a while. That said, I didn't really fancy the Spanish inspired ox cheek and mushroom stew with chocolate and orange picarda. That's probably an acquired taste

My only slight criticism is if you do happen to have a lamb shoulderYou have to flick through the book in the hope of finding a recipe for it. That said it is included in the index

This book has a lovely feel to it – is quite heavy with huge thick front and back boards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fruit & vegetable heroes ..., 20 Aug 2014
By 
LittleMoon (loving my life in the rain) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Always good to find a cook book where fruit and vegetables are the stars of the show. Not only that, but this book is based around seasonality and helps the cook to choose the best quality ingredients at the best time. The author also rubbishes sell-by dates and celebrates growing your own and compost heaps. Great! I do get excited about compost heaps!

Lest you think this is all sounding a bit hippy, don't worry, there are plenty of full-page full-colour photographs, the recipes are clearly presented, and illustrations accompany each section. It's a fun book just to flick through and read, though possibly not as practical as it might be for use in the kitchen.

So the book is divided into 4 sections, one for each season, and each season has its selection of "heroes" (be they fruit or vegetable). Spring, for instance, has broccoli, mushrooms and watercress; Summer has peas, strawberries and fennel; Autumn offers up celeriac, parsnips, squashes; Winter has recipes for apples, celery and kale. Hunt expounds on the virtues of each "hero" ingredient and then includes a whole bunch of recipes that allow it to take centre stage; from side dishes to mains, both savoury and sweet.

It's not just the recipes that I like in this book, it's the fact that the author asks us to consider where our food comes from, and how we use it. This is a manifesto for buying fresh food locally, for minimising waste by storing food correctly and using up leftovers, and for thinking ethically about how we source meat and fish. The Natural Cook brings interesting recipes--and ideas--to the kitchen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doing more with fruit and veg, 12 Aug 2014
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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Tom Hunt is a self-proclaimed eco-chef and food waste activist who began his career working at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage. His latest literary offering, "The Natural Cook", is one of those cookbooks which can easily be mistaken for something it is not and which may, as a consequence, end up as a disappointment should it be purchased with the wrong aim in mind.

The book's subtitle ("eating the seasons from root to fruit") gives the impression that it is concerned with vegetable and fruit recipes and this is indeed largely true. The book is divided into four sections -- one for each season, as you've probably guessed -- each of which concentrates on half a dozen or so "hero" vegetable or fruit ingredients -- those readily available throughout that season -- presenting a range of recipes for each. It would be wrong, however, to assume that because the emphasis is on fruit and veg, this is a vegetarian cookbook; it is not (and to be fair it does not pretend to be) and several meat and fish dishes crop up within the book. That said, you'd have to be an extremely sensitive vegetarian to be put off using the book because of its occasional transgression into meat-eating territory; it certainly didn't bother me at all and I am fairly picky in that regard, easily deterred from opening a recipe book if it features photographs of dead animals (either raw or cooked) at almost every turn. Where meat and fish do make an appearance in the book, they are low-key (in keeping with a philosophy of reducing meat consumption from an ecological viewpoint) and feature very much as an adjunct to the book's main theme.

Also, for all that the book focusses on the seasonality of its featured ingredients, it would be wrong too to assume that the book is written with gardeners in mind by featuring useful and interesting ways of dealing with those periodic gluts of common produce. It doesn't; or at least, not in any way likely to be useful to the average grower in the UK. The book does concentrate on ways to prepare a quantity of longer-lasting (or quicker cooking) stock secondary ingredients from a large quantity of fresh primary ingredient (rendering your rapidly ripening tomato glut into jars of Passata, for instance) which are then used in subsequent recipes. It does this from the point of view of minimising waste of freshly purchased fruit and veg, rather than from the point of dealing with daunting crop harvests. As I say, this is useful to some extent to the home grower but where the book lets that particular reader down is in its selection of the featured produce, where the emphasis is on what is likely to be available from the local greengrocer or farmers' market (and purchased in moderate quantity) rather than on what is likely to have been grown on the allotment -- or even supplied in the majority of organic local produce boxes, for that matter. Featuring, say, swedes, rather than oranges, as one of the 'hero' vegetables in winter, for example, would probably have been more use for those who grow their own veg or buy exclusively locally sourced produce. The same could probably also be said of the author's choice of things like apricots rather than plums in summer, and sweetcorn rather than marrow in autumn.

As you've probably worked out by now, the target audience for this book is very much the shopper, rather than the serious grower -- doubly so when one factors in the wide range of additional ingredients (some potentially hard to source) that some of the recipes call for. There is nothing unreasonable in this, of course, but it does need to be borne in mind when purchasing.

As for the recipes themselves, I personally found them very enticing indeed. Many are quite simple and yet highly effective and not at all time-consuming to prepare. The book also serves very much as an ideas book, as much as a recipe book, with lots of suggestions for variations, as well as handy tips for making use of any left-overs -- another way of minimising waste whilst maintaining variety. This is by far my favoured approach to cooking -- encouragement to experiment being to me more important than rigorous and precise step-by-step instruction.

The book is quite nicely presented, with a mouth-watering collection of superb photographic illustrations that really encourage you to try all of the recipes. It is board-bound, rather than paperback, giving it a more hard-wearing finish than many cook books. My main criticism is of the publisher's selection of font for the recipe headings -- a mock antique typewriter face with underlining pointlessly applied to leading adjectives -- which is unnecessarily hard on the eyes wherever it appears. The same font is carried through into the ingredient listings, for those ingredients which are themselves the product of another recipe in the book. While this is a useful indicator that you'll need some previously prepared ingredient or other, the poor font choice does make for difficult reading of just what that is.

Minor quibbles of presentation aside, this is a book that I think will feature prominently in my own kitchen musings for quite some time (especially given its season emphasis) offering many exciting new recipes, or variations on old favourites. I would say that it was well worth a look for anyone interested in doing more with vegetables and fruit as they come into season and definitely worth considering if you are at all worried about the amount of food that you currently end up throwing away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cookbook for all seasons, 11 Aug 2014
By 
This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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I like this cookbook and how Tom Hunt has structured it. The book is essentially comprised of 4x sections corresponding with the 4x seasons. Each section/season opens with an outline of key ingredients that will be focused upon within the section. For these key ingredients, you're advised when the main crop is and plenty of recipes follow.

What I have also enjoyed are the simple recipes for many of the raw ingredients: - raw radishes with salt, lemon & olive oil; raw courgette spaghetti; and pureed celeriac with butter - to mention a few. There are plenty of more complex, multi-part recipes - but I really do like the simpler ones that help you prepare good ingredients in a way you may not have thought about before. And the recipes do work.

For me, almost a 5* book. I would have liked a bit more than the scant few pages at the beginning of the book with regard to his outlook on cooking, also a bit on stockists ideally, especially as some of the ingredients he refers to a lot (such as 'rapadura' sugar) are not that easy to track down.

In terms of look and feel the book is pretty good with a decent number of pictures and clear layout. I did find the 'distressed' 1930s typewriter font for the headings a bit too reminiscent of a 'war-time' cook book - and therefore somewhat unnecessary - but that's a minor niggle. All told, though, this is definitely the kind of cookbook I can see myself continuing to use and dip into, rather than one that will gather dust on the bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide to cooking by season, 5 Aug 2014
By 
Roland Cassard (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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Having an organic veg box delivered to your door is a luxury, but it is one that many people are allowing themselves. I admit I indulge in this as well, and have quite a large box of seasonal, local produce delivered to my home every week. As a vegetarian, I went for a larger size than recommended for our household, as we tend to get through the veg quickly when the entire meal is centred around it.

As lovely as seasonal veg is, there are moments in winter when the veg box arrives and it's filled with root veg and cabbage for yet another week that my heart sinks. Instead of giving in and going and buying a bag of non-seasonal salad and air-freighted tomatoes, I can now dip into this book for ideas! The winter sections of the book are particularly useful and inventive, if you're struggling to find something new to do with cauliflower or turnip. What I particularly like is that the author gives you a basic recipe for an ingredient, and then uses that as the basis for other recipes. So one basic technique can lead onto other recipes but also, if you make the basic recipe, you immediately have an idea for what to do with the leftovers. It's a clever way to remind us to use up those leftovers and not just throw them away.

I like Quadrille cookery books, and I particularly like the way they are illustrated. If you prefer cookbooks with step-by-step photographs taking you through the process of preparing a dish, you may want to look elsewhere: the photographs in this book are more coffee table than kitchen table, but I personally prefer that: I like the attention to aesthetics, especially as I like to read cookery books in bed or on the sofa, just to gain inspiration for future dishes.

Oh, and the recipe for corn fritters - a favourite food in my house - is the best I have currently found: the right combination of chew and crunch, as well as sweet and savoury
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Economical seasonal cooking, 14 July 2014
By 
Marand (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit (Hardcover)
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This is a really lovely book. I have literally hundreds of cookery books and too often these days I find many new offerings as too samey, going over ground done better in earlier books.

The book is arranged seasonally, the author being a strong advocate of the cook seasonal, cook local approach. Within each of these seasonal sections, the author picks out a few individual ingredients and then suggests a preparation method and ways to use it to make other dishes. In addition there are ideas for using leftovers. I really like the clear guidance on how long recipes can be safely stored in the fridge so that food waste is reduced. It's all very straightforward, and perhaps, obvious but useful in planning menus for a few days ahead whilst minimising preparation time and waste.

Whilst the book is not exclusively vegetarian, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes and others which either use meat/fish as an option, or where it would be possible to omit the meat/fish or substitute it with a vegetarian alternative. Although it is mainly veg cookery there are some ideas for fruit as well.

To give a flavour of the recipes, there is watercress pesto (I never seem to finish a bag of watercress so this is a great way of using up the leftovers) which can then be used to make a lovely puy lentil salad with sun-dried tomatoes. Another really nice idea is to cook older radishes in butter & herbs, either to eat as a side dish or to be used to make a soup. There is a great homity pie, leek & potato pizza, some more unusual things to do with broad beans, courgettes, aubergines and celeriac. On the fruit side, although not exactly healthy options, there's a marmalade polenta cake or apple & chocolate charlottes - based on a dish of stewed apples with cinnamon and chocolate - or a tarte tatin with caramelised apple and a simple to make toffee apple peel.
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The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit
The Natural Cook: Eating the Seasons from Root to Fruit by Tom Hunt (Hardcover - 19 Jun 2014)
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