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on 12 August 2006
As a self-confessed cookbook-addict, I feel I can say with some authority that Sophie Grigson's "First Time Cook" is one of the best out there.

Accessible without being over-simplified, educational without being patronising, this is a book that covers all the basics and a lot more besides. The recipes are easy to follow and, more importantly, utterly delicious, taking inspiration from many different cultures and food traditions, without forgetting homely British fare (I particularly reccommend her recipe for beef stew).

Amongst all this, Sophie still manages to take you through the correct boiling of an egg, how to make the perfect roast potatoes and all other manner of useful advice.

My only criticism of this fantastic book is that there is not more of it!
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on 6 September 2008
I recently purchased this book at Waterstones for £12.99 for a friend that had no idea how to cook (I personally did not put myself in that category- at first). I came home and browsed through it and was totally amazed at how many recipes that were usable. (Most cookery books I have bought I may have used half a dozen recipes at the most), I immediately got on to amazon to order it and realised I could save over £4.00. The chocolate cake is absolutely divine. It was the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted, the shortbread really is gorgeous. There are so many recipes I cannot wait to try as they are all pretty simple with accessible ingredients. This book definately sits at the top of my cookery books.
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on 22 June 2007
'Sophie`s accessible approach and ability to communicate both classic and contemporary cooking styles have made her a hugely popular figure in food today.'

'Want to feel more confident in the kitchen but don't know where to start?....Detailed step-by-step photographs show how recipes should look and finished shots are of real food, not overly styled dishes that only a professional could achieve....

Just like having one of the very best cookery writers and teachers standing by you in the kitchen, The First-Time Cook will transform beginners into confident cooks and provides lots of fun along the way.'

240 high quality shiny pages, split over main chapters:

1. Soups, Starters and Eggs
2. Pasta, Pizza and Rice
3. Meat & Poultry
4. Stir-frying
5. Fish
6. Vegetables & Salads
7. Puddings, Cakes and Biscuits

sandwiched between sections entitled 'Why Cook?' & 'Techniques & General Tips' and a full index.

The Techniques and General Tips section includes 'How to Read a Recipe', 'Preparing Common Vegetables and Other Ingredients', 'Cooking Terms' and 'Recommended Kitchen Utensils'.

Each chapter opens with relevant text in Sophie's typically descriptive, often humorous style, e.g.


I'm a great believer in soup. Here is a dish that fulfils a multitude of functions, the prime amongst them being that it satisfies the soul. Oh - and the stomach. A big steaming bowlful of soup can really hit the spot. It makes a good first course and it makes the heart of a handsome lunch or supper, eked out with loads of soft-centred, crisp-crusted bread, a big hunk of cheese, and healthy fruit or something more indulgent to follow.
Make one big batch and it will feed a crowd, or just feed you on your own quickly and easily over several days.'

Then follows all the information you will ever need re types of soup, tips and techniques, 'sweating without perspiration', 'thick, thicker, thickest', 'liquid essentials', 'thinning down', 'dressing up' and 'machinery'.

Headed in red, each recipe has an opening note and is clearly laid out with servings, list of ingredients - often split into 'base' and 'main' - plus a step-by-step method, along with any extras e.g. 'dressing up', 'aromatics', 'seasonings', etc.

The book also has informative 'need to know' sections, easily found by their blue headings.

And there's more... much, much more........if you need to 'prepare an egg', it's all here:

Boiling, frying, scrambling, poaching, separating, folding in or whisking, after a guide to buying freshness, even salmonella advice.

But, if the childhood memory of 'scrambled eggs on toast' is enough to get you to turn the page - please do so - for Sophie's twist on a theme - the most superb recipe for 'Lemon Scrambled Eggs on Toasted Bagels'!

A taste of the other recipes within:

* Roast Tomato and Onion Soup
* Mushroom Omelette
* Pasta Frittata
* Salsa Cruda (Raw Sauce)
* Tagliatelle Bolognaise
* Good Pizza Dough
* Egg-fried Rice
* Grilled Steak - has summary of the timings for blue, rare, medium-rare, medium & well-done
* Chicken Fajitas
* Roast Leg of Lamb
* Parsley and Lemon Stuffing
* The Best Easy Roast Chicken
* Thai Stir-Fried Noodles (Pad Thai)
* Tuna Fishcakes
* Roast Salmon with Lime
* Fundamental Fish Pie
* White Sauce
* Mashed Potatoes
* Tomato and Basil Salad
* Simple Chocolate Mousse
* Blackberry and Apple Crumble
* Lemon Ice Cream
* Custard
* Victoria Sponge
* Shortbread
....plus the most delicious 'Double Chocolate Cake' -

'This chocolate cake boasts a double helping of chocolate (in the form of real chocolate and cocoa powder) for a 'wildly big hit of chocolate heaven'.
Swathed in a fudgy chocolate cream all over the outside and the inside it becomes a king amongst chocolate cakes'.

And with such tempting, mouth-watering description I wonder if Ms Grigson might turn her attention to the boxed chocolate market, in the near future!

Coming to a sweetshop near you.... if so, you read it first at Amazon!
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on 5 September 2007
Fab book, lovely recipes. Really simple recipes that turn out tasting amazing. Great ways of taking a basic recipes, and turning them into something else, e.g. beef casserole into daube de beouf. Really good for cooks of all levels. Would recommend it to anyone.
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on 22 May 2005
I do not class myself as a beginner cook (neither am I Gordon Ramsey :-)) but this book has lovely, straightforward and most importantly fab recipes which turn out brilliantly every time! Highly recommended for all enthusiastic cooks!
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on 6 December 2009
I found this book in our local library and thought it might be a good introduction to cooking for my teenager. I took it home and started reading it. It was chock full of tips - a lot I would never have known about. I tried the ribs recipe and loved it (although I added lots of garlic!). I made the cabbage recipe with lemon, garlic and chilli and it added a new dimension to cabbage. I bought the book as a stocking filler. My only problem is now I want it for myself........
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on 24 March 2014
This book is downright amazing for both people new to cooking and folks who know their way around the kitchen. For new foodies it very clearly explains the method behind the recipe steps, and for those who know a thing or two, it still provides you with some excellent recipes.

Well worth the investment.
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on 7 November 2012
I bought this for my granddaughter she is taking over as mum. As she was never taught to cook I thought that this would help her as she lives abroad with her dad and brother. The colour plates are lovely. I only paid a penny but at the normal price it would still be worth the money.
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on 19 December 2010
Good book for people without much experience in cooking.
Everything is well explained, easy to understand and recipes not too complicated.
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on 31 May 2010
This is the third of three books I bought for my stepson who can't cook at all but wants to learn Don't know if he's tried any of them yet
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