This is a big book, it needs two hands to heave it onto the table, but then it’s weighed down with 123 step-by-step recipes that are pretty much foolproof.
It’s as if we are frightened to admit we don’t always know what we’re doing and better to mess up dinner than ask for basic advice.
Jane Hornby has never been shy of telling us in a strict, matriarchal way, what to do.
Her previous books after all have had titles such as What to Cook and How to Cook It, and What to Bake and How to Bake It.This book has taken the most popular recipes from those two books and combined them in one hefty tome.
Each is rigorously laid out step by step with a photo for almost every stage. You really can’t go wrong unless drunk, and even then, you’d probably get by.
So definitely a book for young people. Or do young people not drink anymore?
Anyway, millennials like blogs and blogs do like to use step by step instructions, so maybe Jane is like a stopped clock, correct twice a day
The recipes mix up old and new and arranged around meal type – breakfast, lunch dinner, sharing, weekends etc and don’t try and catch trends because home-cooking for the family will always rely on classic and simple.
And in keeping with the times, the baking section is large and tempting.
f.There’s a useful intro on store cupboard must-haves, a well-stocked pantry means no last-minute dashes to the shops or worse discovering half way through you don’t have something crucial.
So do the recipes work? We tried one from the breakfast section – eggs benedict.The tricky part with this is always the Hollandaise Sauce – freshest eggs possible is key as Jane points out straight away. We have our own way of doing Hollandaise but followed Jane’s to the letter.
The result was perfect, well perhaps a little too much vinegar to be honest, but that may have been our fault.
It was a good tip to use some kitchen paper under the slotted spoon carrying the poached eggs to avoid soggying up our muffins. No one wants a soggy muffin in the morning.
We tried crab cakes with a herb vinaigrette, again sticking to the simple instructions and not applying any knowledge gained elsewhere. Simple and tasty.
123 recipes is a fair old stack to get through, 512 pages in all. Cobb salad, roast lamb, Vietnamese herb salad and desserts, cakes and bakes such as fudgy cheesecake brownies and the perfect lemon tart.
Quantities are in both American cups and grammes, and the writing straddles both continents too, so that arugula is followed by, in brackets the English version, rocket. So, everyone knows what’s what. Hopefully,
Recipes have already been featured in The Sunday Times, so those people that still buy the paper will have an idea of what to expect.
Those of different political persuasion should not miss out though, the book may not be written by the hippest chef on the block (this week), but to be honest, it’s all the better for that because it’s packed with useful recipes that really work.
Published by Phaidon