My new years resolution this year was to learn to cook. It took a month or so for me to start, and that’s thanks to this really cool little book. This may sound a touch cliché, but I knew very little about cooking and I was quite happy with my concept of cooking being “bunging something in the microwave”, or if I was adventurous – a frozen pizza. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a totally new man through the invention of this book, but I’m well on the way.
First things to note, I don’t have a big kitchen or loads of money to spend on expensive recipes, so this isn’t one of them exclusive books that has you out buying some ridiculously priced ingredients.
It has a number of good sections (and website as well actually) and I did really like the first section with the “essentials” in it. Don’t get me wrong, they are useful, but essential is debateable. I have bought a number of them since the beginning of the new year, but only as and when I needed them – obviously no point in pumping out hard earned cash for something you might never need! The book then has a good number of chapters with food broken down into them:
Twenty-minute meals, Quick Pasta, Tasty Stir-fties, Easy curries, Lovin’ Salads, Simple Soups, Homely mince, Comforting Stews, Family Roasts, Delish Veg, Quick-cooking meat & fish, Classic Fish, Kick-start breakfasts, Sweet things.
There are two things, without going into detail about the final product from the recipes just yet, that I like about this book. The first is it doesn’t take anything for granted. It assumes I’m as novice as a novice could be and explains the recipes from that direction. As an example, it tells you how to boil, fry and poach an egg – and even how to cook rice… without it sticking! I’m embarassed to ask someone those questions for fear of ridicule! But here I am, able to follow a set of guidelines, procedures and protocols – I’m back in an environment I understand, albeit a slightly different IDE.
The second great element of this book is the pictures. Normally, they include some arty farty picture of the final product which none of us would ever achieve, nor indeed even want to. This book (save the odd instance), includes pictures for the inbetween steps so you can feel assured that what you are making is going the right way (or at least has a chance of going ok). That piece of mind is great to know and has helped encourage my cooking regimé!
Obviously, I’ve not cooked everything in the book yet, but what I have, I’ve really enjoyed. Of the sections, the Curries are really nice and I’ve been amazed at how … amazing (!) they are! The Tikka Massala, Rogan Josh and even the Thai Green curry were better than any of my local take aways and a damn site cheaper when you weigh it all up! I’ve enjoyed the Kedgeree, some of other fish dishes (including the Fish Pie) immensely. But one thing that I think I’ve been surprised at, is the soups. They really have been awesome! They make portions for about 6-8 people an I happily freeze a number of them and take them to work over the next week or so. It works out much cheaper than buying sandwiches every day.
After getting this book, I thought that I’d have a look for another cooking book. One that does the same type of meals that are in this one. The great english, down to earth, ‘can imagine my granny cooking’ dishes. So I bought Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food and was uberly disappointed. The recipes are so far fetched from my universe I really can’t comprehend what type of pub sells them. Maybe I should have looked a bit closer at the recipes before I bought, but ah well. Back to Jamie’s MoF – it’s time to make a Stew! And it should last me a few days too! Mmmmm….