Britain: The Cookbook Hardcover – 15 Sep 2007
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'Phil Vickery has travelled the length of Britain seeking out our very best local produce, the farmers who grow it, and 130 recipes making the very best use of these ingredients. A brilliant idea, it's bursting with individual stories and looks simply gorgeous thanks to some fine photography.' -- Living North
'Ready Steady Cook favourite Phil Vickery has travelled around Britain for his latest tome and the result is a spectacular showcase for home-grown food.' -- PureTaste
'TV chef Phil Vickery has toured the nation looking for Britain's best ingredients and unsung producers. The result is a cracking read as well as a user-friendly cookbook. Vickery's descriptions of his countrywide encounters are wonderfully entertaining.' -- Waitrose Food Illustrated
'This handsome book is a celebration of the strength and depth of Britain's food heritage. Focusing on 10 different regions, TV chef Phil Vickery has put together a range of inventive recipes using some of the country's leading ingredients (including Cornish sardines, Welsh lamb and Cromer crabs). Not every recipe is illustrated, but there are enough photographs to whet your appetite. Many recipes have an unusual twist: we enjoyed the Lager-steamed salmon with basil & lemon and the Caerphilly & wild garlic tart. THE VERY BEST OF BRITISH FOOD.' -- BBC Good Food Magazine
An epic undertaking, this book saw Phil travel the length and breadth of Britain over a period of 19 months. His mission? A quest for perfection, to meet the best of Britain's food producers and suppliers. This gorgeous book is not a straight collection of recipes, although the recipes themselves are sumptious and tempting. Through excellent photography and great writing, it truly evokes Phil's journey and really summons up the spirit of the people and places he visited, the food that he tasted and the passion for quality that he encountered along the way.' -- The Somerfield Magazine
Phil has an on-going series of short programmes on This Morning called A Taste of Britain, in which he interviews his food heroes around the country. This book is inspired by that series. Phil appears regularly on Ready Steady Cook and writes for BBC Good Food. A uniquely rich portrait of Britain's best food and producers. More than 130 recipes from this most accessible of Michelin-starred chefs.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Vickery arranges it by geographical regions, then he does a "visit" to a traditional supplier, and follows it up with a handful of recipes using that ingredient. This format works very well and makes the book enjoyable to read. The essays on local suppliers are illustrated with a lot of very beautiful - and interesting - photos. It makes you want to visit the supplier, seek out similar people in your area, and use these traditional ingredients, which is exactly what the author intends.
The recipes themselves mostly have the real feel of traditional British cooking; although there are a few "fusion" dishes, most wouldn't look out of place in a historic cookbook. The instructions are clear and Vickery says he has tested all the recipes - but see "Foursome"'s review for a useful note about "Strange Quantities". Also, a lot of the most delicious dishes are heavy on traditional dairy products; if, as I am told, Vickery is the husband of Fern Britain, I'm not surprised she struggles with her waistline!
[ NOTE since I originally wrote this review, I went to make the first recipe I fancied - easy ciabatta. This contained another error; a reference to "cornmeal to thicken" (no quantity given) which made no sense in the recipe and wasn't referred to in the instructions. This was pretty worrying, as I now approach any recipe with doubt. For this reason I've downgraded my rating from 5 to 4 stars.]If you want a more in-depth treatment of the subject, try The Last Food of England
The book is split into 10 chapters relating to different parts of the country,
1.The West Country,
7.Cumbria and the North-West,
8.Yorkshire and the North-East,
Then within each of these geographical areas, Phil Vickery takes his inspirations from some local ingredients. For example, from "The West Country" there are 4 diverse recipes drawn from Cornish sardines, 3 inspired by Sheppy's cider farm (but the ingredients in the recipe are not specifically Sheppys!), 3 are based on smoked eel thanks to Brown & Forrest a family firm who smoke silver eels in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, 3 more fishy recipes based on his own personal experience of fishing for sea bass, there are 4 Clotted cream recipes ,as this is a very Cornish product, but with specific reference to A.E. Rodda's creamery (although a couple are using it to serve, rather than in the recipe, which is perhaps a bit of a cheat, although the recipes are delicious!) and the final inspiration in the area is blueberries grown by the Trehane family in Dorset give the chapter its final 5 delicious recipes. Each ingredient is treated to a full page with anecdotes and information and then each recipe in itself has a few more lines particular to that recipe, often with tips as to how to get the perfect result, some of which are supremely helpful.
The whole book is filled with beautifully shot photos of the ingredients, taken by Steve Lee, the recipes and the places they have come from, which makes this as much of a joy to the eye as the resulting recipes will be joy to the tum and certainly wouldn't look out of place as a coffee table book for browsing.
A lot of the recipes are a little too much for me to manage during the week - although there are some great ones like, Simple Smoked Salmon Kedgeree (in the Scotland section for Smoked Salmon - no surprise) and Beef Simmered in Beer with Flat Mushrooms (South-East - Beer) and the Caerphilly and Smoked Paprika dip, which are quite simple even for someone who is learning or has limited time for fiddly preparation.
Some of the more intriguing recipes in my eyes are Pheasant Curry (The Midlands - Game), Pigs' Trotters with five-spice and honey glaze (Cumbria and the North-West - Pork), Sweet and Sour Rhubarb with Slow Roast Duck legs (Yorkshire and the North-East - Rhubarb) and Watercress and Nettle Bread (The South - Watercress) and the simple sounding Boiled Crab with Mayonnaise (East Anglia - Crabs) (which calls for 2 live crabs!) I'd happily give them all a go (may not be brave enough for the live crab recipe, but I'll try another like Cromer Crab and Sweetcorn Ramekins with Melba Toasts!)
One little disappointment for me was the way the book seem to stop short. The final chapter on Ireland is only given one ingredient - Honey, with just 3 recipes, which as you can see compared to the first chapter seems rather sparse and I had been looking forward to finding out a bit more....
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