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Customer Review

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the most efficient cookbook ever written!, 24 May 2013
This review is from: The Only Recipes You'll Ever Need: 4 Ways to Cook Almost Everything (Paperback)
This book was published in Australia before the UK, so I've had it for a month. It's based on Tony Turnbull's feature in The Times cookery web pages offering the four best recipes for each of an enormous range of ingredients. The book features 64 of these (with at least four recipes each) ranging from things to put on toast, through roast chicken, pork chops, and mussels, to cocktails. On the way you'll encounter store cupboard essentials like frozen peas and tinned tuna - just to show that Mr Turnbull isn't a snob. The book is sensibly arranged into Light Dishes, Main Dishes, Desserts, and Drinks - and, since ingredients are organised arbitrarily within sections, there is a comprehensive index. Unfortunately, the index is less useful than it might be since not all pages are numbered! The recipes for each ingredient are presented on two pages - usually one page containing the recipes and the other a picture of each dish. Since the book contains about 270 recipes on about 130 pages, things can get a bit terse! Lists of ingredients have more than one item on a line, and instructions tell you what to do - but not why. There is also a total absence of the (often self-indulgent) chat that modern cookery writers seem to delight in. The recipes are restricted by space to stuff that can be broken down into two or three sets of instructions. Personally, I think that is all you need to cook more or less anything worth cooking for the family and, as you will see, it covers an impressive array of dishes. There's a page telling you how to use the book, but that's not really necessary - just find something you fancy and get on with it! There is also a page of Top 10 Cooking Tips - these are extremely useful reminders for even the most experienced cook and invaluable insights for the beginner. Speaking of which, this book would be suitable for beginning cooks, if combined with a general cookbook that goes into the why of things - Good Housekeeping, for example.

Now, you and I know that it is absurd to claim that there are only four essential recipes for a given ingredient, but you have to start somewhere in deciding what to put in a cookbook and this approach is much more generous to the reader than most. It also stimulated me to look at The Times cooking web pages, and the organisation of the book made me think about the perfect cookbook and how to create it. Finally, the most important question of any cookbook - do the recipes deliver? Yes they do; everything I've made so far works pretty well. This is not fine dining - it's much more useful than that - but a catalogue of recipes you can use over and over again to rapidly deliver a varied and interesting diet - not to mention a host of enviable cooking skills.
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