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Good for novices but not much for the keen cook
on 8 July 2013
It would be fair to say at the outset that I am probably not the type of cook the author was aiming at when he sat down to write this book. I have literally hundreds of cookbooks and so my take on things will be different to some with only a small collection.
The title is something of a conceit inasmuch as whilst there are plenty of suggestions for what to do with, say, chicken breasts or puff pastry or to make pasta sauce, the selection is rather dull. The book presents four recipes for each main ingredient, with a photo and the method set out in two or three stages. By way of example, there are four pasta sauces but the offerings are pretty mundane - pesto; carbonara; garlic, anchovy & chilli; Bolognese. The suggestions for chicken thighs are ginger & soy, lemon & garlic, honey & mustard and sesame & chilli. Of the four risotto recipes two are for mushroom risotto and saffron risotto - not exactly original. The duck breast recipes follow a similar pattern - there is cherry sauce, or Madeira or orange sauce, with perhaps something a little more interesting in duck with honey, star anise & ginger.
The recipes are, though, generally quick to prepare, aside from things like casseroles which obviously need time to cook. For example, pork chops are worked with fennel, chilli & tomato and served up with mashed potatoes, or marinaded in paprika & garlic and then served with couscous.
The presentation seems old-fashioned to me - I recall a recipe book of my mother's from the 1970s with a very similar style. The four recipes are shown with corresponding photos, very plain, and the photography is rather dull too. However, this plain presentation and the simple method & ingredients are probably a good thing for the new or inexperienced cook, and might well encourage some experimentation. To that end, it is the sort of thing that might be appreciated by a student heading off to university or someone setting up home on their own for the first time.