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I am a Nigel Slater fan, he is such a natural cook. His recipes are British yet with inspiration from around the world. The recipes in Real Food are straight forward and easy to follow, they are practical yet inspirational. I will never tire of Nigel and his meals will always be on the menu planner and my dinner party menu's.
I would never knowingly buy a cook book from a celebrity chef. Fortunately for me, I didn't realise Nigel Slater was a celebrity chef when I bought this book!
A friend of mine gave me a recipe once for potato and smoked mackerel dauphinoise. It was really simple to make and tasted superb. The recipe was from this book and the friend recommended it, so I went out and bought it straight away.
The book is quite simple in its concept. It's a big bunch of comfort food recipes! Very good, tasty, simple recipes that can be enjoyed with minimal fuss and preparation. There's some attempt to bunch them together into sections but there's some cross over and it's mostly a delightful assortment of delicious food.
There's no attempt to be pretentious. There's no fancy ingredients or awkward preparation required. Each recipe appears to be chosen solely on its taste and ease of preparation. You could pick out any recipe at random and make it that day with ingredients available from your nearest grocery store.
Anyone could pick up this book and cook up a delicious meal with little fuss. It almost makes pre-prepared ready meals obsolete!
Very rarely does a CD come along that you love everyone of the tracks on it. There is always usually a duffer on it or one which doesn't provoke much. The closest I have come is Fleetwood Mac: Rumours. Why am I talking about Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks when I should be talking about Nigel Slater? Well for me the same is true of a cookbook. Very rarely does one come along that it doesn't produce at least a few mediocre meals (cooking skills aside). This book, so far has not failed to produce meal after meal of impeccable flavour and variety. I guess over time I am nearing ¾ of the recipes within and it houses several of my now tried and tested favourite recipes. Facing that everyday scenario, of when your cookery book cupboard is being held hostage by an armed intruder, this would be the one I negotiate safety. Although I would have to tear out Jamie Oliver's belly pork with fennel recipe. And Delia Smith's chocolate bread & butter pudding recipe. That goes without saying.
I can recall how I became upon this cookbook - I exchanged it following a duplicate christmas present. I was flicking through alternatives in waterstones, and came across this one which only had 8 different types of food in it: Potatoes, chicken, sausages, garlic, bread, cheese, ice cream, chocolate. This simplistic approach to recipes instead of a scattergun inclusion was refreshing. To be honest he could have scrapped 6 to leave sausage and ice cream and I would have been happy - the 2 pivotal cornerstones of a perfect diet. Each section has about 15 or so recipes within, and vary in terms of 'simple but delicious' to 'chef masterclass'. A lot of them are takes on a classic. For instance toad in the hole or a steak sandwich. Sure, we can all cook these without the assistance of Nigel, but the little twists he adds to these recipes give a delight not otherwise experienced. I will be the first to say that along with a lot of chefs and recipes, his reliance on double creams, heavy percentages of butter and all things calorific. He obviously goes by the rule, the unhealthier something is the tastier it will be. But look at it this way: if you used cook books like this for your day to day staple diet it will be the same as if you dined out every night. This is a once a week or fortnight or month cookbook. Scarce enough to keep it a treat.
I like a book which has photos. Not only because I am simplistic, but because I like to get an indication of whether my concoction looks remotely like the intended recipe. I am pleased to say that this book has photo's galore and a high majority of the recipes come with a glossy, artistic picture for comparison. The instructions are on the whole easy to follow, and don't hold any surprises; i.e. the classic Delia moment, when following a recipe for a dinner party 2 hours away, the recipe starts with "the day before your meal, make sure you...". Throughout the book flows a style of writing unique to Nigel Slater, and I felt lifted by the inclusion of occasional less than precise terminology i.e. a 'dollup' or a 'swig'. I am a bit of an experimental in quantity cook and rebel against such authoritarian dictatorship in my kitchen. An attitude which excels in a lot of culinary areas but produces spectacular flops in the pavlova department. Yes; estimating quantities there has led me to becoming a treble pavlova failure. I now shy away from all things meringue.
A couple of recipes which stand out as going beyond the call of duty and should be awarded some kind of culinary medal of sorts:
The Spicy Sausage Pasta: Using skinned Italian spicy sausages, double cream, Orecchiette pasta, wholegrain mustard, basil, white wine and chilli flakes. This one has made an outing time and time again and wowed at dinner parties for a boys night in or a more fancy evening. It actually rewards you for getting the pan too hot and the sausages sticking to the pan! Genius!
The vanilla poached pears with florentine cream, crushed brandy snaps , drizzled with chocolate. This is one of my favourite puddings ever, and the only one I'm allowed to do (my wife is head chef in the pudding department for very good reasons). The sign of a good pudding, for me has to be whether it can be eaten cold the next day. I intentionally make probably twice the amount you are supposed to of these, and they keep me going as a key element of breakfast, teabreak, lunch, tea, high tea and dinner the next day. As they are fruit, they must be good for me... right?
I could go on. and on. for 120 recipes, but both writer and reader would probably lose the will to live. To summarise, in my top ten cookbooks. this places at #1. (although to be honest, I don't even have a top 2 cook books let alone a top 10, but this is my favourite.)
I am by no means an elite cook. I hate washing up. My job/social life means that I am usually short on time when it comes to cooking meals and thanks to the credit crunch I am more likely to purchase Asda Smartprice than Sainsbury's Taste The Difference produce.
That said, as I've got older I've found that I'm not satisfied by the studenty concoctions I used to live off - pasta and a can of chopped tomatoes, beans, beans and more beans (apart from Heinz baked beans snap-pots, there are a work of genius. I must review them). I find myself wanting to cook more exciting meals with exotic/authentic produce, not only for myself but also to wow my friends/boyfriend (the way to a man's heart etc....). An invisible force now sucks me into international delis, posh cheese shops and even, dare I say it, the food halls at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in search of a particular type of chocolate or stinky cheese I have heard about.
So what am I to do? I'm short on money and time but I have aspirations (or possibly delusions?!) of culinary grandeur. Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food is a godsend.
Be warned: this book will make you hungry. Make sure you have plenty of food in before your read it. The recipes are written in a descriptive and saliva-inducing way (good tactic Nigel) that makes you want to get cooking right away. I love the way the book is written - in fact, I've read it cover to cover and I can't say that about any of my other cook books.
The slightly odd thing about the book is that it's a paper back with no pictures. I think this boils down to the Slater's emphasis on simple food/flavours rather than presentation.
There are recipes for everything from cheese on toast to oysters and Bloody Mary's. It's organised into headings for each type of food e.g. potatoes, cheese, cabbage etc. making it easy to follow. There's commentary about how to track down the best and most ethical produce. I think this knowledge has actually saved me money - rather than going crazy in the expensive deli, I know the Italian salami I'm after and just buy that.
It's simple but inspirational, for example; there are sections headed "good things to team with eggs in a sandwich" and "good things to top a baked potato" which give you great ideas for normal but also sophisticated meals. I would never have come up with a jacket potato sprinkled with pesto and Parmesan - try it! It's so tasty.
You can get yourself a copy on Amazon for around £5.00 - it's well worth it.
I'm on a bit of a cookbook roll - have just Gordon and Delia the once-over, so now for Nige! So how does he compare?
Now the thing about Nigel Slater is, he writes beautifully, but he doesn't come across terribly well on TV - possibly why he's not on it much! I love his weekly contribution to the Observer magazine, often cutting out recipes. But even when he writes about something I hate the tast of, I love to read the article!
This quality translates into this book too. Everything just sounds so delicious in his recipes! Of course, some of this may be to do with the notoriously waist-expanding amounts of butter, cheese and cream that seem to make their way into his recipes!
Real Food is by not intended as a comprehensive cook book. Nor is it organised conventionally - there are no chapters on Starters, Soups, Desserts, Fish, Meat etc here. Instead, the chapters are organised around a select few of Nige's favourite foods - such as Cheese, Chocolate, Sausages, Bread, Potatoes (see what I mean about the un-health factor?). The Cheese chapter is a particularly interesting mix of sweet and savoury recipes. And each section is prefaced by a little essay of love to the featured ingredient.
The recipes themselves - well, in general they're easy to follow (Nige is a big one for taste rather than fancy presentation) and taste fantastic. They range from quick little snacks to efforts worthy of a dinner party. I've tried quite a few and haven't found a dud yet.
Any downside? Well, don't expect to be able to fiind a recipe for all the standards in here - but the book never promised that! It might be nice to have a few less heart-attack-inducing recipes, but then again they can be found, and I feel like I'm nit-picking! My one genuine complaint might be that Nige can be a bit excessively 'foodie' sometimes, which can make him sound a bit prescriptive - particularly in the introduction where he insist (something like) 'When I say butter, I mean unsalted, best-butter you can find; and when I say eggs, I mean organic eggs that you collected yourself this morning from a hen running free across the meadows with Mozart playing in the background....' [Before I get complaints, I'm not implying a deep love for battery farming!] - you know what I mean!
However, Nige seems free from the huge ego and determination for world domination that taints some of our other celeb-chefs, or even seems to be their raison-d'etre (step forward Mr Ramsay!). He's clearly driven by a deep love of making, and eating great food - and this book is all about spreading the love.
We are on real food today, people. Real Food. As written about by Nigel Gotta Love That Man Slater. Real Food. As cooked and eaten by Jill Loves To Feed Her Face Wherever and Whenever Humanly Possible Murphy. Real Food. Slater has divided the book into eight sections, all containing recipes based - sometimes loosely - around a particular ingredient. These are potatoes, chicken, sausages, garlic, bread, cheese, ice cream and chocolate. You will not find recipes you need to fuss over for hours. You will not find recipes with ingredients you cannot find except at outrageous prices in specialist delicatessens. However, you will find ideas for good, good food. This is the kind of food so good that you would serve it to guests but the kind of food so basic, so comforting, that you would serve it to yourself every day. Nigel Slater writes about food with enthusiasm and joy. He, like me, thinks food is an important pleasure and his words are silky, loving, sensuous... sensual, even. He is also very witty. The recipes themselves are set out in a very clear, easy-to-follow fashion. Mostly, they are simple enough for the least talented cook to follow. The chapter introductions and asides, though, are full of Slater's food loves, reminiscences, jokes and descriptions. I defy you to read him waxing lyrical about even a dish you do not think you would like and not feel hungry. Above all, Slater comes across as an enthusiastic, witty, warm man. Real Food is full of these personal touches and it more than a reference book of recipes; it is a good, amusing, inspiring and satisfying read. The first time I opened it, I did not close it again until I had read it from cover to cover. There are around one hundred and twenty recipes included, and it would b
e dull to try to précis them all. Suffice it to say that they are an eclectic mixture - some are very basic and some much more sophisticated. Toad in the hole sits next to something called Salcicce and Pepperoni. A garlicky creamed mushroom with parmesan potato crust concoction follows a chip butty. The cornflake cakes you remember from childhood are there, but turn the page and you are discovering the delights of a white chocolate mousse flavoured with cardamom. What binds these dishes together is a lack of pretension. Nothing is fiddly, nothing is over-complicated, all is mouth-watering. Slater does make clear, though, that you will need to buy good quality ingredients to get the best results: "When I say butter, I mean unsalted; when I say salt, I mean Maldon sea salt; and, when I say sugar, I mean the golden, unrefined stuff from Mauritius. Pepper is ground from a mill and not, absolutely not, bought ready-ground." So be warned! The section on chicken has been least use to me. I am a red meat aficionado, I'm afraid. Many of the recipes call for breasts, thighs, or joints and I prefer to cook a chicken whole. I have yet to find a recipe for roast chicken that improves upon Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's delicious offering with honey and couscous. I would think, though, that the many people who prefer to choose white meat where possible would find lots to choose from here. Of far more interest to me are the many possibilities Slater offers for the humble banger - a good butcher's banger though, obviously. My favourite from these is the recipe for good old Toad in the Hole, embellished with some thin slices of pancetta around the sausages and some mustard in the batter. It is by far the best Toad I have eaten. The potato section is a revelation. Follow Slater's method fo
r the most delicious, sticky-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside roast potatoes ever. Check out the wondrous variations on mashed Murphys. The star for me here is a smoked mackerel gratin ? an easy to make, one dish recipe, it is scrummy and better still, CHEAP! There is a potato pizza too, which sounds odd, but is delicious and while good and interesting enough to serve to guests, is also homely enough for a lovely weekend supper dish. And, oh, my goodness, the potato cakes with pancetta and cheese has found its way from the cheese section of Real Food onto the Murphy Weekly Menu. And then there are the sweet recipes... these will make you groan with delight. Nigella Lawson has donated a sticky chocolate pudding recipe that is to die for. I am not usually keen on Nigella, she takes that whole food-as-orgasm just one step too far for me. However, this is delicious and so easy. It is a one-bowl dish of loveliness. Every good recipe book should include something for children to make without too much cooking, and Slater comes up trumps with the richest, most scrumptious chocolate refrigerator cake we Murphys have ever tried. And we have tried a few. Do you want me to start with the ice-creams? We like the banana ice-cream and the pink grapefruit sorbet. These are both yummy and easy to make, although I must say it is so much easier with an ice-cream maker, if you have one. Slater insists ices are a doddle to make without one, but I think his enthusiasm gets the better of his common sense here. Ice-cream is a real pain to make by hand beating, whatever he says. There are some more rarefied dishes in this section too - deep-fried ice-cream and mincemeat parcels, for instance - and I do think, again, despite Nigel's nonchalance, that these are too daunting for a novice cook. Ack, though, I am picking
. Whatever your foodie preferences, if you like good food and you like to cook good food in a largely unpretentious, unfussy way, then Real Food is the manual for you. It is rare that more than a couple of recipes from any one cookery book make it onto my table as a staple meal cooked at least monthly. Real Food has provided me with more than any other. From the Smoked Mackerel Dauphinoise, through the Potato Pizza, the Toad in the Hole, the Grilled Marinated Lamb to the Prawns with Garlic, from the Steak Sandwich through the Potato Cakes with Pancetta and Cheese, to the ice-creams and the chocolate cakes, this is the cookery book I use most often. The recipes are clear and easy-to-follow - with the exception of a few ambitious puddings - and the accompanying blurbs never fail to make me smile and feel hungry. The photographs are enticing. What more could I ask? More interesting and less patronising than Saint Delia, less fashion-conscious and experimental than Jamie Oliver, less downright irritating than the likes of Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater is one of the most enjoyable, inclusive and interesting cookery writers around. He is only beaten in the Murphy Food Guru League by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Even then, I have to say that Slater scores points over my beloved Hugh in several areas. Where Hugh could well have moved too far down the organic and self-sufficiency scale for some, Slater makes the same basic prescriptions for quality and provenance, but allows his readers to retain some sense of comfort and familiarity with his ingredients. It is unlikely that you would find a recipe for cornflake cakes in a Fearnley-Whittingstall book, for Hugh would have to make the cornflakes himself first. And Slater's recipe
s certainly assume less technical culinary knowledge. Ah, I'm rambling. Real Food is a four star cookery book - one star docked because I would prefer a section on a red meat to the one on chicken and because one or two of the puddings are a bit silly. I love Slater so much though, I am going to cheat and give him five. I just can't help it. ISBN 1-84115-144-0 £12.99
Just before I started at university a girlfriend of mine, who was older and wiser than I, gave me one of those Penguin 60s books. You remember them, those small books that cost 60p released to mark 60 years of Penguin books. The book she gave me was Nigel Slater’s 30 Minute Suppers and contains about 30 or 40 different main course recipes. Inside was written “Don’t cook any of it now, just keep it and one day it will serve you well.” How right she was. Whilst I have always been a keen cook, I had never really heard of Nigel Slater and I didn’t tuck into the book until I moved out of halls and into a place of my own. The first recipe I tried was the Warm New Potato Salad with Melted Taleggio and Rocket. It was quite delicious, dead simple and was a n instant hit with friends. In that small book Mr Slater also helped me create the perfect baked potato and taught me an easy but delicious rice pudding. It was obvious I needed to find out more from Mr Slater so I got hold of his best known work, Real Food. Real Food is 320 pages of brilliant recipes accompanied by mouth-watering pictures and entertaining and enthusiastic food writing. Mr Slater is clear what real food is “big-flavoured unpretentious cooking.” And the book is a tribute to simple but fulfilling grub. It is split into esoteric chapters which revolve round a fantastic ingredient: Potatoes, Chicken, Sausages, Garlic, Bread, Cheese, Ice Cream and Chocolate. All are ingredients that Mr Slater can easily get excited about and each chapter begins with a homily to the humble spud or the noble garlic before moving onto a selection of recipes centred on the featured ingredient. Every one of the recipes is enthusiastically explained and clearly a favourite of the author. And it is Mr Slater’s evangelical attitude to food that draws the whole book together and makes it such a pleasure to read and follow. He is no food snob, but he does like ev
erything to be of the highest quality and more than a little extravagant (he seems very keen on cream.) I particularly like his recipe for Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Basil and Mustard. This sublime mix of spicy sausage meat, pasta, mustard, basil, white wine and cream makes simply the most extravagant pasta sauce in the history of extravagance. If you haven’t had it, you haven’t lived. Other recipes with a continental flavour include the Roast Chicken with basil and Garlic (shove chicken, wine, garlic, lemon and basil in the oven all together and it creates the most remarkable flavours and sauce) and also the Potato Pizza (sounds odd, tastes delicious) always go down well. But it is his versions of the standards that really take the proverbial biscuit. Slater’s Toad in the Hole is excellent, the secret is to use really good sausages, wrap them in bacon or panchetta and add some mustard to the batter. If you didn’t think you needed a recipe for a steak sandwich, then prove yourself wrong and make it the Mr Slater way. Other dishes are simply original classics. The recipe for Baked Potatoes with Smoked Haddock and Mustard is as delicious as it is simple (poach the fish in cream, and scoop out the spud, mix together and put back in the skins.) And remaining on a fish theme, I heartily recommend the Toasted Smoked Mackerel Sandwich. Mr Slater’s genius is his tone. He offers simple to follow recipes that are not patronising or overly detailed. He believes that the cook needs to have a feel for what they are doing and doesn’t cosset in the way that, say, Delia does. That said, Slater does go back to basics and is not difficult to follow and his advice on cooking baked potatoes is valuable and useful. Slater carries the reader with his enthusiasm for simple and appetising food. He wants you to enjoy cooking and treats it as a sensual activity but also you must enjoy eating the food, otherwise there is little po
int in cooking in the first place. Mr Slater is a valuable companion in the kitchen, and if he hasn’t joined you yet, I suggest you invite him in soonest. If you still need convincing that Mr Slater is worth seeking out, there is no real reason to be coy any longer. Next Sunday stride forth and get your hands on a copy of the Observer. Mr Slater is the Food editor on that grand Sunday paper and always has a lovely column accompanied by some luscious recipes. Even better, once a month the Observer publishes its “Food Monthly” which is edited by Mr Slater and makes a splendid read. Seek it out!
Crash! Rattle! KerPling! Beep, Beep! Ouch! Thump! I cook in an onomatopoeic kitchen. As I cook, the baby chases the cat, the cat knocks over a pot plant. I turn to pick up the plant and end up stepping on the cat. The baby opens a cupboard...Crash!...The cat runs off with my mint. Baby chases the cat........ Nigel Slater also cooks in an onomatopoeic kitchen. But it is nothing like mine. Nigel makes food that ‘steams’ and is ‘sticky’, ‘aromatic’ , ‘delectable’. Nigel ‘oozes’ and ‘goo’s’, he ‘bubbles’ and ‘froths’. But we make, pretty much, the same things. I like cooking. And I’m not a bad cook. I’m one of those who never sticks to a recipe, but adds a snippet of this, and a dollop(another Nigel word) of that. Mostly it works...sometimes not, but I love food, and I love cooking it. And Nigel Slater, darn his little cotton socks, irritates me. He is Smug...(ahem)...excuse me....he oozes a delectable aroma of sticky smugness. That isn’t to say that the actual recipes are bad. ‘Real Food’ is divided into 8 sections, devoted in turn to Potatoes, Chicken, sausages, Garlic, Bread, Cheese, Ice-cream and Chocolate. Each contains between 13 and 21 recipes, which isn’t bad value for money in terms of recipes per item. Most of the recipes are useful, if some are a bit obvious ( which cook hasn’t, at some point in their life, bunged a bit of chicken in the oven with some lemons and white wine anyway, without having to read how to do it). He doesn’t encourage messing around with them. If Nigel says ‘herbs de provence’, he means ‘herbs de provence’, and woe betide you if you’ve only got a bit of manky thyme left in the garden. His culinary basics are helpful. His ‘toad’ has a decent batter mixture. But you’ve still got to de-skin the sausages a
nd wrap them in prosciutto. We are allowed an alternative here.......pancetta, serrano ham ....or...even....streaky bacon. Thanks, Nigel. We can all make toad now without having to spend 2 hours on the bus to visit the local deli. I’ll say this for him, too. The recipes are clear, and the instructions are easy to follow. They are tasty, and easy to make. If you aren’t counting the calories, then you could live with this book for quite a while. I like that about it. This man uses cream, butter, cheese and milk like he’s supposed to be single handedly supporting the UK dairy industry. Good for Nigel. At the start of each chapter he delivers a homily on what sort of potato, or what have you, you should be eating. I like this not. Some of the information included is useful; but I don’t like being told time and time over, what Nigel likes. And, I’m sorry, a raw chicken is not ‘majestic’. It’s a raw chicken. I do agree with some of the principles behind it , though. Eat good food, think of texture, and buy good quality. It is just that the man is so, well... smug about the whole thing. I would say that the recipes are worth a read ( especially the puddings); but I am not so sure about the book as a whole. I’m not sure who it is aimed at...maybe the man who wants to cook easy dishes, with good ingredients; or those who aren’t sure what sort of sausage to buy. I’ve used this book quite a bit, but each time I do, I keep seeing the little face of Nigel appearing just above the cooker : ’Delectable...’, he murmurs, as I fish haphazardly in the pan for the teaspoon I’ve just dropped. As the baby starts to eat the plant and I chase the cat for the mint(Bang....Whoosh.....Screech) Nigel watches me, aghast. I’m not sure he’d survive a week in my kitchen.
Look at me. I can't eat food for sparrows. I'm six feet 8 inches tall, I have size 14 feet and I weigh in at around 19 1/2 stone. I need nourishment or I'll waste away! I also enjoy cooking, although until I met my wife my idea of making up a recipe was frying some sausages and making some mash! She then gave me a copy of 'Nigel Slater's Real Food' (at last, I hear them sigh, he's mentioned the book he wants to write the opinion on!) I will quote from the introduction of the book: 'by real Food I mean big-flavoured, unpretentious cooking. Good ingredients made into something worth eating. Nothing extravagent, nothing careless or slapdash. just nice, uncomplicated food' And he means it! He goes through a load of simple staple ingredients and offers a plethora of recipes to make with them. My personal copy of the book has now got pages stuck togethere where I have put the tome too close to a spitting stove. The recipes are delicious. Nigel offers everything from the recipe for a great chip butty, to a really simple toad in the hole that involves wrapping bacon around the sausages (it's great, you must buy the book on the strength of this recipe alone!), to foolproof roat potatoes, to a really simple chicken dinner (it is, I use it whenever my wife informs me that I am cooking and the food is breathtaking in its simplicity and its scrumptiousness), to a great recipe from Nigella Lawson (she of 'Domestic Goddess' fame) on making a steak sandwich by using a steak mushroom and a load of garlic. I daren't give too much away. the book is in front of me as I type. Whenever I feel peckish I flick throught eh pages and my craving for food is satiated. by it. It should be a crime not to! Nigel Slater is the Patron Saint of cooking!!!
Ii thought I knew how to roast food, including vegetables, but this book, (a present from my sister who cooks well), has really made a difference. From a "simple" chicken, (although I am still also influenced by Delia on this one), to a vegetarian's selection, there are nuggets of useful info for the reader. I thought cheese and onion was a nasty artificial crisp flavour, but Nigel Slater is quite right to praise a left-over roasted onion on bread with cheddar cheese. Now I can't ever roast too many onions, just to make sure that, even though they taste great freshly roasted, there will be some left to have with cheese as a snack. Another favourite is the sauce to go with steak - Bearnaise I think. And looking at the greedy cheese-piled-on-bread on the cover is enough to get the juices going.
I had this book given to me by a female friend of mine, just after telling her that I make a damn fine enchilada sauce but I couldn’t cook a roast even if the chicken came into my house and put itself in the oven! You see, my friend is 27, she works full time, she has her own house, (which she cleans everyday) and she cooks a hearty meal for her man every night. She doesn’t understand how anybody else can not love cooking – I for one can’t stand being in an overheated room, running about worrying if my soufflé has fallen! But I thought I would have a look at this book, just to satisfy her curiosity as to why I can’t cook (or the reality of why I don’t!) This book was brought out when he had a series on TV, personally I didn’t see this, because like most other TV chef shows, I get very frustrated when they cook so easily and I can’t! But you didn’t have to see the series to buy the book, I imagine anyhow.... He has chosen eight everyday things like bread and chicken and come up with over 120 new recipes that are to show them at their best (apparently). These include ‘cauliflower cheese and mustard’ to ‘sausage and potato hotpot’. There are other recipes such as ‘Stove-top Dauphinoise with pancetta and rocket’ don’t ask me what this consists of but it sounds tooooo hard to make! If you’re into cooking this is a good recipe book, if you’re not, then it does help you to make decent roast potatoes and home made ice cream. It even has a section for CHOCOLATE! This section is by far the best used in my kitchen, from ‘Chocolate Truffles’ to ‘Chocolate apple betty’ (you’ve got to try this one) and the ‘no-cook chocolate cake’ recipe is to die for. The book is beautifully illustrated, colour photos take up whole pages and you can really see the food, but the writing is a littl
e on the small side, I don’t need glasses but you may wish to borrow a pair for the recipes! On the whole a rather good ‘cook-book’ but I’ll stick to chucking everything in a wok and seeing how it comes out!
Too many cookbooks are about showing off - impressing dinner party guests or potential partners. Nigel Slater talks about the sort of food that we eat everyday - and really (deep down) love. The chapters concentrate on one staple each- potatoes, chicken, sausages, garlic, bread, cheese, ice-cream and chocolate - nothing too unusual there. Again, most cookbooks lend themselves to you slavishly copying recipes and serving them up to impressed guests - not really cooking. In fact you are just one more step in the food production chain that starts in Sainsbury's end ends on your plate via a Delia recipe. Your not a cook, your a production worker. Nigel's book temps you to start thinking about ingredients - the basics in this case and to try to understand them. I though I knew about garlic until I read the garlic chapter - my garlic cooking has been transformed. Be a cook - not a food production slave!
Nigel Slater does not have the trendy edge and smart looks of food writers and chefs like Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, but he writes the same kind of tasty, hearty recipes which have made readers and viewers of the others so happy. The typical Slater dish does not take very long, is very easy, and usually comes with an insistence that you eat it with your hands. Slater has an unforced, genuinely conversational tone, and an awareness that his readers may be staggering in after a long day at work and wanting to enjoy real food without a song and dance. My favourite meal from this book is Grilled Chicken with Chilli Lemon and Mint, but they're all absolutely fine. My girlfriend now owns The 30 Minute Cook, Real Cooking and Real Fast Food as well, becoming something of a Slater fan - it's all too easy to be seduced.
Nigel excels at recipes to be cooked on the hoof. In fact he sometimes over does it. There's lots of "I just love to eat this with a crusty roll leaning against the fridge!" - which can get a bit cheesy at times. But his recipes can be great. Personal favourite from his Quick Eats book is the Hoi Sin chicken - very simple chinese food that tastes like a quality take-away. Also the hot chicken and mayo sandwich is great if you don't mind quite lardy food! I like Slater's food cos it's by no means prissy - unlike Delia and her white muslin thingys!