Leon Book 2 arrives and a smile hits my face. As I hoped it is a playful, visual feast. Packed with ingredients dressed up in a multitude of ways, the recipes are delivered on pretty plates, tablecloths, in jars and glasses, and surrounded by small toys and friendly words of advice and enthusiasm. It is a hectic collection of pages, but exactly what you would expect from the brand. Divided in half, the book discusses Fast Food and Slow Fast Food, with stickers, cocktail recipes, and some chatter at the back about sustainability and nutrition.
The book opens with two sections; ‘Love your larder’ and ‘Love your freezer’, which is later followed by a bizarrely Star Wars themed page on cupboard staples. People don’t really live by the larder these days, which is a shame and a missed opportunity to create great tasting food using a few basic ingredients, like pasta with peas, and Tuscan beans with sage.
The recipes are simple, colourful dishes from all over the globe, which will appeal to anyone looking for something seasonal, delicious and fun, from a great omelette, to ceviche, from a top pot roast, to pickled aubergines. And there’s always a tip or something extra that you can try if you have time. I particularly like the appetising ‘soup lifters’ page of toppings to help pimp your soup, such as crispy bacon, golden fried garlic, crème fraiche and lemon zest. It is not a book of challenging recipes, but it’s not supposed to be.
There are certainly a few recipes which are going on my list; the yogurt in a teacup with rose petal jam, a great idea, especially as teacups are all the rage. I’ve always been a fan of the bacon and maple syrup combo but have never tried crispy bacon and maple syrup on porridge, a simple but appealing dish. Soup recipes don’t always jump out at me but as with the first book there is a super soup section. The butterbean with grilled peppers and sautéed garlic was a hot, smooth delight, one that I will be repeating. The 18 hour beef can only be good (although perhaps not one for a Monday night). And finally, the pages on pickling, potting, drying, smoking and freezing – a whole section of experiments, a top weekend kitchen activity.
Put together by John, Henry, Benny and Allegra, the recipes create a strong feeling of sharing good food. There has clearly been a lot of involvement by the extended Leon family and the book certainly adheres to the Leon vision that food should taste good and do you good, and that everyone should be able to enjoy it.