on 2 December 2006
Everything you ever wanted to know about cooking in the classic English style is here. OK, it's a bit pedantic and fussy, old fashioned and over prescriptive but invaluable.
Clearly written, this tells you how to make every dish there is in english cookery starting from the basics and ending with recipes to serve the royal household. I've used this book for almost 40 years and every recipe in it works. If you want to know how to do things from boiling an egg to roasting venison its here.
Constance Spry writes from a love of cooking and pride in those she's taught. Everything is done properly, no short cuts, no flash just solid, reliable advice on how to prepare food. Between us we own over 100 cook books and this is the one I go to when I want to know how to do something. For actual recipes I might go elsewhere (e.g. the 23 book encyclopedia "Supercook") but often find they probably cribbed the recipe from her as its very similar with some of the frills left out. Where in other books you feel the author is just filling the space, here you feel she has cooked every one of these dishes many times.
This is the book for the person who thinks they know all about cookery, written by the woman who did.
on 6 December 2007
My first cookery book, along with Elizabeth David, Madame Prunier and Escoffier and still used constantly and hugely regarded. Maybe not fashionable, but has all the techniques, and all the recipes you must have under your belt.
I have a huge quantity of other cookery books, but know I can instantly find short simple instructions here for such delights as crepes suzettes, profiteroles, red cabbage, creme brulee for which I just need quick reminders. My copy is now in pieces, with brown stains on the pages, and I am about to replace it with a pristine copy which no doubt my daughter will annexe. Try one of the Christmas puddings. Big quantities, maybe, but quite gorgeous, and they keep perfectly for years if you don't halve the quantities. Cleone Saise
on 2 March 2013
I originally bought a copy of this from the long-defunct Cookery Book Club back in the 70's, and my very battered volume was falling apart all over the place from constant use.
Classic English & French cookery clearly explained. Constance Spry was, of course, a product of her time so some of the recipes seem a little bland; we are used to having ready access to a range of ingredients she could only have dreamed of. But still a classic worthy of a place on the bookshelf on any serious cook (i.e. not one wanting lush coffee-table piccies).
Grab it while you can!
on 7 May 2010
When I was young, we cooked a lot from Good Housekeeping's Cookery Compendium, but aspired to make recipes from Connie. Someone gave my Mum the paperback version in its tight fitting box and for the next 5 years I read it until it was falling apart without ever feeling I could afford to try the recipes. I'm not sure now why I was so intimidated because many of the recipes do not, in fact, call for trolley loads of expensive ingredients. At any rate, for the last 25 years or so, I have actually been cooking from this book on a regular basis. It is chock full of classic recipes that have been thoroughly tested and work reliably. There are still some surprises though, including the savoury plum sauce that turned out to be very much like Worcestershire sauce - very popular with my brother in law, who loves the stuff.
The book contains the following sections:
The Cocktail Party
Hors-d'oeuvre, First Course Dishes, and After-dinner Savouries
Kitchen Knowledge, including tables of weights & measures
Soups and Soup-making
Vegetables: Flowers & Fruits
Vegetable Entrees, Dressed Vegetables, and Simple Luncheon Dishes
Eggs and Savoury Souffles
Rice, Risottos, Pilaffs, and Curries
Pastas, Pasta Dishes, and Batters
Meat - Beef, Mutton and Lamb, Pork, Veal
Meat - Les Abats
Poultry and Game
Force-meats, Farces, Stuffings etc
Devils, Barbecues, and Marinades
Cold Savoury Mousses, Souffles and Aspic
Milk and Cheese
Bread and Bread-making
Patisserie, Petit Fours, Petits Gateaux, and Gros Gateaux
Sweets, Hot and Cold
Breakfast and Tea
Garniture and Presentation of Food
Menus, Parties, and Food for Special Occasions
The Store Cupboard
Modern Kitchen Appliances
As you can see, it really is comprehensive. Although the list of Contents might lead you to suspect a preponderance of French dishes, the scope of the book is much wider than that, including the famous recipe for coronation chicken. There's also a surprising amount here for vegetarians.
Okay, a little bit of care and patience is needed to navigate the Index, but at least you can be sure of finding plenty of delicious recipes that have a good chance of turning out as expected. Even though it's vintage by cookery book standards, I'd still say this is a perfect book to give to someone setting up home for the first time - Ms Spry will even tell them how to wash up.
on 28 September 2008
The Constance Spry Cookbook is THE best cookbook ever written. It has all the basics of cooking, right through to complicated dishes, all explained clearly -- and they all work. I often find her recipes "modernised", but the originals are the best. My old paperback version is falling apart and I wish someone would buy me a new book.