A cook's Year: how to choose and cook with great ingredients is a brilliant book. In the book, Gregg Wallace passes on his knowledge on how to find the best produce for cooking. In the divided sections of the book, (SPRING, SUMMER,AUTUMN, WINTER ) he opens up with information on different produce (veg, fish, meat, herbs) and gives advice on what to look out for when choosing that particular produce- for example, on page 25, he talks about cauliflower. He says " caulis needn't be whiter than white. they come in many shades, from bright white all the way to yellow. A white head with yellow bits is wrong, but a creamy yellow colour all over is likely to be a variety of just that colour. As long as the heads are tight and snap easily without too much bending, and as long as the floret are free of rust spots, you have a fresh cauli." The recipes in the book that follow the shopping guide are wonderful and the photographs to accompany each recipe are fantastic. Gregg wallace shows us the best ways to use the produce he mentions by giving great recipes for us to cook. He may not be a chef, but he knows everything about the best produce from learning and the recipes in the book are what he likes to cook at home. He is an example to us all of a person who cares about the quality and taste of food- buy this book now!!!
I bought this book mainly because I wanted to reduce food miles and get some recipes I could use seasonally without shipping tomatoes from morocco or blueberries from Chile. The book is ok for that, though I find it strange (and I don't think it's explained) that fish is seasonal. But I have to write a review to say that the actual recipes are brilliant. I am no great chef, but everything I've tried from this book has turned out just wonderful - despite the instructions being a bit ... vague. I think one of the nicest parts of the books is that it doesn't tell you what will happen - you get the steps, and if you follow them then you get a great dish - but it might not look like you think. Try the leek & cheese tart for instance - I was sure the instructions were wrong, but I followed them and it was great (I don't want to give away the ending). Another good point is that most of the recipes don't need a huge number of exotic ingredients (yes, I'm thinking Ainsley) so you can put something together from a cupboard + seasonal special. To conclude - buy this book if you want great recipes (I've tried a few, even when they sound daft they work), skip if you need detailed instructions or pictures - the recipes are quite vague.