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The Cook's Companion: The Complete Book of Ingredients and Recipes for the Australian Kitchen Hardcover – 9 Jan 2005
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Anyone who cooks - or eats - needs this book in their home. --Nigella Lawson
Of all the many cookery books that exist, there are only really a handful which are truly a must-have - The Cook's Companion is one of them. --Jamie Oliver
It is a rare fit that all cookery writers strive to achieve: writing the definitive book on a single subject. Stephanie Alexander did the impossible and wrote the definitive book on all subjects. --Yotam Ottolenghi
As soon as you dip into this comprehensive cookery book from Australian restaurateur, Stephanie Alexander, you'll understand why it has established itself as the kitchen 'bible' on that continent in the past decade. Stephanie believes that eating well should be a joy, not a worry, and her book is designed to be used everyday, by everyone, regardless of culinary experience or skill. She learned her skills at her mother's side and writes as if you were at her side as she selects ingredients, mixes, bakes, laughs, tastes and revels in the heady world of great food. Over one thousand pages offer nearly as many failsafe recipes for everything from apple tart to zuccini souffle, while at-a-glance panels offer wise advice and show which foods go best together. A delicious addition to any cook's kitchen shelf.See all Product description
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Every cook or anyone who loves to cook needs to add this 'bible' to their collection.
Obviously, some of the varieties of things like fish, for instance, have no real equivalent in European waters, so the descriptive text will have no value and, conversely, there will be no discussion of some fish you are familiar with that have no equivalent in Australian waters. But, I was surprised how little this mattered - partly because there is an amazing amount of common availability of food between hemispheres these days - and partly because such anomalies are vastly outweighed by the general usefulness of this book to anyone - anywhere.
I will close this review by talking briefly about the little things that lesser books leave out, or do badly. Want to find an ingredient quickly? the alphabetic table of contents has alternate ink colours for different letters - very easy to find things. Want to cross-reference ingredients and/or recipes whilst preparing a meal? there are two place marker ribbons. Want to find a recipe featuring a couple of ingredients you may have? the cross-referenced index is one of the most comprehensive I have seen in a cookbook, with main recipes having an initial capital and margin recipes in italics. The main ingredient entries in the index are in bold, with sub-entries to them indented to avoid confusion. Similarly, index entries that are not main ingredients also have indented sub-entries. For example, amaretti biscuits, clearly not a main ingredient - so not in bold - has six sub-entries in the index to recipes featuring the biscuits. Want a good read? This book is not just a fantastic work of reference, but also has just the right mix of anecdote and history to sustain your interest for hours. So what's wrong with it? Well, with five stars, not a lot. My main caveat, oddly enough, is the price to UK purchasers. I bought this for less in Aussie dollars than the UK price in pounds. That's almost half the price Amazon are listing to you!
Its organised alphabetically into chapters, each chapter exploring a particular ingredient. The chapter begins with an encyclopaedic description of the ingredient, advice on selection and different methods of cooking. Then follows a range of recipes.
Throughout the book there are useful hints in the margins. One of the most useful things is each chapter has in the margins a list of the things that go well with the ingredient, for instance the herbs or spices that complement it well.
Stephanie has a wonderfully clear style, her recipes and advice are straightforward and valuable, and I can quite happily nestle down with this book and just read it for hours.
It's the most food-stained recipe book in our house, and the side binding is starting to wear a bit - but only because it's in almost constant use!
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