Newest Review: ... and quite boring, telling us the importance of measuring properly and following the recipe. Nigel's introduction is a little diffe... more
Sadly this didn't revolutionise my cooking skills
Appetite: So What Do You Want to Eat Today? - Nigel Slater
Member Name: Holland1
Appetite: So What Do You Want to Eat Today? - Nigel Slater
Advantages: Nice layout, good photography, variations on basic recipes, useful information, unpretentious
Disadvantages: Unless you're a chef, it's best saved for special occasions
I acquired this book from my mum when she was having a clearout mid house move and knowing my love for cooking decided to kindly donate some books to my ever-growing collection. I'm not a particularly big fan of Nigel Slater, having never gone out of my way to watch any of his TV series, but I'll try anything in the kitchen so I gratefully added this book to my recipe collection.
The book is widely available online, although the price varies hugely from £8 to £74 (!) so I would recommend keeping your eye open in second hand bookshops and charity shops. Looking on the back of the book its RRP is £15, but I can see from the inside cover that my parents picked this up from a charity shop for £3.99. Bargain!
The book is quite eye-catching with orange, red and brown stripes on the front and a picture of one of his meals. It makes some encouraging claims on the front and back cover, with many complimentary quotes including the following:
"Nigel is a genius" - Jamie Oliver
"Cookbook of the Year" - Andre Simon Award
"This is Nigel's best book yet" - Antony Worrall Thompson
This improved my optimism of this book, and I got quite excited that I'd been missing out on Nigel Slater's work.
The introduction in most cookery books is very much identical and quite boring, telling us the importance of measuring properly and following the recipe. Nigel's introduction is a little different in that he tells us that there is no better pleasure in the kitchen than cooking without a recipe. He focuses on flavour and experimentation rather than following someone else's rules. His philosophy reminds me of Jamie Oliver, in that the emphasis is on great tasting food, without frowning upon shortcuts or quick cheats.
He also talks about the fact that measuring your ingredients isn't really necessary for most dishes (unless you're baking), and that this puts people off if they are a little intimidated by following instructions. I do agree with this because I often start following instructions then realise I'm missing something and replace it with something similar, the results are usually as good as it would have been by following the recipe to the final word.
The first third of the book doesn't really involve any recipes but instead gives you lots of information about cooking and experimenting, such as which flavours work well together and what food is in season for each month. This first part of the book does last a while but is definitely well worth a read, and will undoubtedly inspire you to want to try cooking and experimenting. I particularly like "The new cook's survival guide" which basically reassures us that cooking a meal from scratch every day is not necessary, and having a ready meal once a week makes life easy and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. This is slightly different to Jamie Oliver's approach in that Nigel doesn't expect you to make three course chef style meals every night of the week, but inspires you to try it once in a while without going to the ends of the earth to buy expensive ingredients.
That's the theory anyway. Now onto the recipes....
The last two thirds of the book contains recipes which you are encouraged to experiment with. It begins with a chapter entitled "Some really useful stuff", which gives recipes for things like bread, tomato sauce, mayonnaise and gravy. Each recipe gives ideas on how to use these ideas in everyday cooking, so the recipes are versatile and he gives variations on flavours so once you've made a batch you can get different uses out of it.
The following chapters are broken into food types, and include chapters on soup, pasta and noodles, rice, vegetables, fish, meat, fruit, pastry, puddings and cakes. Again, he gives lots of variations on dishes where possible, so if you don't have the exact ingredients you can use whatever's in your storecupboard. If nothing else, this gives you the confidence to experiment with flavours you like and flavours you think will work well together. There are some good photographs to show you what the dish should look like at different stages, and the instructions are well written with useful hints and tips such as getting the timing right, and how to make several meals out of one basic sauce.
I have used this book on a few occasions, but I have to admit I have only ever really used it when I've needed a 'special' recipe if we're having people round or celebrating something. Although it's a very user friendly book in terms of instructions, I personally don't find it very useful for day-to-day use. Although most of the recipes aren't too bad with regards to needing specific ingredients, I find them a little time consuming and just wouldn't make them unless I had a special occasion or plenty of time on my hands. I think this book suffers the problem that it's great for inspiration if you have a chef's pantry on hand, and a kitchen full of fresh herbs, but for most of us we would have to go out on a special shopping trip to get the ingredients for these dishes.
This is a good book full of different ideas, but personally I think it's best referred to when cooking for a special occasion. I don't know when chefs will learn that we just don't have their skill for whipping up amazing meals in an instant!
Summary: Worth adding to your collection if you can pick it up cheap
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