This book is breaking my desk. It isn’t just heavy; it’s condensed neutron heavy and requires two hands to lift. Drop it and it might go through the floor like a cartoon grand piano and not stop till it gets to the boiler room.
Its weight is in knowledge. A thousand ‘every day’recipes that are easily achievable and remarkably varied and that can turn a non-cook into a chef and take a middling cook up a lot higher. It contains a pull-out Shopping List that makes it easy to take your ingredients list out because it covers every recipe in the book. No more getting home to find a vital piece of the recipe puzzle is missing. The Editor in chief is Victoria Blashford-Snell, who one imagines must be related to the famous explorer so perhaps that’s how she found the energy to compile this massive tome. There has to be a recipe for just about everyone here and it would make a great gift for a young person starting out on their first flat or even going to university. There is even a 90 minute DVD included showing all those techniques that are hard to master just on a description alone; seeing it on DVD means you can really get the hang of method and pause and replay any tricky bits to make absolutely sure.
There are three sections – Starters and Light Bites, Main and Side Dishes and Cakes and Desserts and there are photographic step by step guides, including preparation time, cooking time, freezability and nutritional information too. There are individual features on shopping hints, what to serve with dishes, what to do with left-overs and how to rescue a disaster. The last should come in particularly useful in my house.
It’s easy to forget as we collect the latest cookbooks by master chefs to coo and slaver over in our sitting rooms that a good cookbook can be just that, a book to cook with. A reference work of achieveable dishes, The Cooking Book definitely earns its right to sit proudly on your kitchen shelf. Just make sure it’s a reinforced shelf, that’s all.