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The Gentle Art of Cookery (Classic Voices in Food) Hardcover – Illustrated, 5 Sep 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Quadrille Publishing Ltd (5 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844009823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844009824
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Hilda Leyel (1880-1957), who wrote under the name Mrs. C. F. Leyel, was an expert on herbalism and founded the Society of Herbalists (later the Herb Society) in England in 1927, as well as opening the Culpeper Shops chain of herbalist stores. Author of a book on herbalism, called Elixirs of Life, Leyel was also a fellow of the Royal Institution, and an officer of the Academie Francaise. Suffragist, journalist and author of the post-war novel Anne, Miss Olga Hartley was Hilda Leyel's assistant, and helped her with the writing of The Gentle Art of Cooking.


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Format: Hardcover
This book is based on menus Mrs Leyel served to friends as well as an excellent section at the end called The Alchemist's Cupboard which suggests ingredients to have in every kitchen store cupboard. There are recipes from across the UK, such as Daisy Wine from Yorkshire, as well as simple ones from Europe such as Keesel from Russia - a thick apricot curd-like pudding served with cream.

There is a conversion chart at the beginning of the book which is much needed because some of the recipes use measures I had never heard of such as 'a peck', and 'a gill'. The former being equal to 9 litres and the latter 150ml. It also outlines oven temperatures based on a conventional oven as all the recipes in the book use Cool, Low, Hot etc.

I love the way this book is chaptered. It starts with Sauces and a bold statement in the introduction that 'in England sauces are often badly made, badly mixed or not flavoured at all'. The range of sauces that is then presented must have been quite mind blowing for readers. One that I did try was Garlic Sauce which is simply olive oil with pounded almonds and garlic. I had it drizzled over some steamed fish and it was delicious!

The next chapter focuses on vegetables which she describes as 'the dividing line between good and indifferent cooking'. So true. Mrs Leyel berates the English 'method of stewing vegetables in water and then throwing away the water containing the most valuable properties' and calls this 'stupid and not economical'. It would have been great to see her telling Downtown Abbey's cook this!
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of a series of books published by Quadrille in the Classic Voices in Food series, reflecting recipe books of years gone by, this one from the series covers the gentle art of cookery. The chapters are divided up by sauces, vegetables, chestnuts (a whole chapter!), mushrooms, fish, eggs, meat, cold supper dishes, dishes from the arabian nights, rice, poultry and game, fruit, almonds, creams custards and jellies, sandwiches and savouries, wines and cups, cooking with children, flower recipes, cakes and finally the alchemists cupboard.

This is quite a decent size book with some 400+ pages. There are no photographs or pictorial illustrations as it is wholly text. It is reproduced to reflect the way recipes were written at the time. The recipes are remarkably simple (as the title infers) and easy to follow, and consist of just a few sentences in many cases. It's intriguing to compare books like this to current food/drink books from modern chefs, this book was first published in 1925 and little has changed in some respects, for example, a soup recipe then is not that dissimilar to now.

Some of the quantities in this book are huge, and though the recipes are perfectly doable and seem relatively easy to make they require a little bit of judgement both in execution and being able to translate some of the cake recipes into more family sized amounts (any ginger cake with 3lbs flour at its heart is going to be one really big cake no matter how tasty it is!).

If you are a novice cook, I think you would find a good number of these recipes more easy to follow than those of current TV chefs, which may surprise you. If you are a cook that relies heavily on seeing the finished dishes illustrated with photographs, then this book may not suit your style.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've already got the Grieve and Leyel herb book, which I refer to frequently, and bought this as a companion to it . It's every bit as good and useful, lots of straightforward simple recipes which are just as relevant today as in the past. Not for a novice cook though, as sometimes you have to guess at quantities and cooking times.
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Format: Hardcover
Starting with The Gentle Art of Cookery, this book of 750 recipes fills 430 pages, including index and a rather wonderful chapter on "The Alchemist's Cupboard", which details all the dry stores a well equipped kitchen should have. The authors seemingly had a particular fancy for the Army and Navy stores, as well as long lost condiments such as Lazenby's Hervey Sauce.

Like many older cookbook, the recipes are short - this is not a book which takes the cook step by step through each dish, and it doesn't list ingredients at the start of each recipe. The recipes are divided by chapter; while many of the chapters themes are unsurprising (vegetables, meat, fish, for example), some of the others are more uncommon; chestnuts, "dishes from the Arabian Nights", Almonds, and Flower Recipes.

Of course, food is as subject to fashion as, well, fashion, and therefore this collection is not at the cutting edge of molecular cuisine. However, a good number of the recipes are worth trying, especially the more traditional dishes.

If selecting a recipe to try and one to avoid, braised pheasant with chestnut puree sounds interesting. As I really can't stand rabbit, I would avoid all the rabbit recipes as a matter of principle. Probably the hare recipes too.
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