I have spent hours drooling over this book! When it arrived in the post I was wondering what was in the package because the book was a lot bigger and thicker than I had anticipated.
When it comes to cookery books this one is quite something. Most of today's cookery books seem to be just recipe books and assume you know everything about cooking . . . which of course most of us don't, otherwise why would we be buying them.
Back in the 1950s and early 60s every housewife would have started married life with a cookery book showing her all that was needed to cook traditional meals and showing the different techniques in the kitchen, books like the Radiation Cookery Book or the Main Cookery Book (published for use with gas cookers). Fairly basic books but full of useful information.
The Conran Cookbook has taken this idea and expanded it. The inside cover describes the book as "Taking you from the market place to the plate . . . encompassing everything the home cook needs to know from the essential knowledge necessary to choose and prepare over 1,000 ingredients to equipping the kitchen, planning successful menus and cooking over 450 delicious and nourishing dishes".
A few words are not going to describe to you what this wonderful book entails. The book is split into three main sections, which are:
· The Purchase and Preparation of Food · Equipment · Recipes
The most informative section of the book is The Purchase and Preparation of Food which is sub-divided into nine categories:
· Fish and Seafood · Meat · Game and Poultry · Eggs, Dairy Foods, Cooking Fats and Oils · Grains, Breads, Pasta and Dumplings · Vegetables · Fruit and Nuts · Herbs, Spices and Flavourings · Coffee, Teas and Tisanes
If you have a question about something to do with food and its cooking you will more than likely find it here. If you have only one cookery book in your kitchen this should be the one.
As you would expect from any book carrying the Conran name, it is beautifully designed and illustrated, as well as been clearly written and easy to follow. You wanted to know about fish? All the main varieties of fish and shellfish are illustrated and there are guides to preparing all the different types, with each guide having step by step photographs showing how it is done. This is the theme throughout the book covering every area of food and its preparation.
It is a mine of information. Not only is it for those new to the art of cooking but also for those who have been cooking for years and are afraid to ask about something for fear of embarrassment.
This would make a great Christmas present or be ideal for newlyweds . . . or better still why not enrich your cooking skills by getting a copy for yourself. It will be a shame to get food stains on it but that is where it is going to be kept, close at hand in the kitchen. Did I forget to mention that there are some great recipes as well?
I have used this book ever since it was recommended to me by a friend as a great ab initio book to learn about ingredients, the tools of the kitchen and cooking. In an industrialised world where agriculture is so distant from most city dwellers' life, this is the sort of tome that can impart knowledge that previously would have been passed between generations or would have been an integral part of growing up.
It's a book that will remain a foundation of anyone's cooking and I thought it deserved another review emphasising this since the hardback can now be found at such reasonable prices.
I bought this book a couple of years ago and find myself reading it as you would a novel.Its a reference book but also a very good cookbook. Tonnes of information to appeal to people who live to eat and appreciate GOOD food. The basics are covered. Whole chapters dedicated to the buying and preparation of foods. Meat, fish, vegetables, rice, oils etc. all the food groups are in there. No really, it is interesting! Later on in the book come the recipies. Technically, as a "cook for pleasure" you could manage on this one book alone as your kitchen reference section. Then, via a very clever reference method, you can flip from the preparation page to the relevent section with the appropriate recipe, of which there are loads of good ones, all nationallities(or you can just go straight to the recipe section if the tech stuff's bores you).If I'm struggling thinking of what to do with produce I bought from the supermarket, because it looked nice or it was in season(thierfore cheap)!Or I just simply want to know what something I've never heard of is, 9 times out of 10 this book will have the answer.I also own Larousse Gastronomique, brilliant as it may be, for us mere mortal cooks, Conran is probably more appropriate.
I might be biased, but this is the best cook book I've ever read or owned, and I have read (and own) quite a few. I can read a whole book of recipies through, but I prefer a good fiction book. And yet I can read this cook book for hours. I've owned it for several years now and I still haven't had enough.
My favourite part is the first (and largest) section which goes over all the ingredients. It tells you how to buy, handle and prepare all manner of things; and it tells you what ingredients go together and what flavours they go best with, also refering you to the recipies that come later.
The recipies themselves are a 'sampler' of different ways to cook each main ingredient. They are excellent, and I like that they suggest substitutions if you don't have the main ingredient (e.g. which other fish work in the same recipie). It is fairly obvious that with a 'one of each' approach, the recipies are not at all exhaustive so other cook books are also needed- especially for the bread and pastry sections. BUT EVEN SO, most of any other thing in my kitchen, this book took me from the cook I was to one that can experiment, try flavours together (where there aren't recipies) and explore my way into a love of all things kitchen.
I absolutely adore the Conran Cookbook, and in general, cookbooks aren't my thing. I tend to head straight to the internet to find recipes if I go to find them at all, but this book has pretty much anything I could need. From how to pick the right potatoes for mash, to delicious dessert recipes, to how to gut a fish properly - this book has everything, and it is all set out clearly with clear pictures and instructions that aren't that hard to follow.
I think this is a fantastic addition to anybody's bookshelf, whether they are a keen chef, or just beginning.