Newest Review: ... & Shellfish Meat Store Cupboard Sugar & Honey Chocolate This is a good book for learning and as... more
How to make your family very happy in one easy step.
The River Cottage Family Cookbook - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Member Name: historywitch
The River Cottage Family Cookbook - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Date: 09/04/07, updated on 09/04/07 (4385 review reads)
Advantages: Delicious food, easy to cook
Disadvantages: Hard to just flick through and find a recipe
I am not the worlds best cook, I would be the first to admit it (and my daughter and husband would be the second and third!), so my culinary creations tend to be along the lines of simple and nutritious but sadly limited. As I don’t like feeding my daughter processed food I have always cooked from scratch for her and this has helped me to develop a little further. I rarely enter the scary world of cookbooks as I have found that even if I follow the instructions completely, things never turn out as they do in the glossy picture and we are usually disappointed. So I was a bit surprised when my dad bought me a cookbook for Christmas (and a bit peeved as well, I was hoping for something else) and I put it to one side and forgot about it. Fast forward to March and its Mr Historywitch’s birthday and I always try to buy a nice cake for him. This year I decided to brave the cookery books again and actually (sharp inhalation of breath) cook for him. All the books came out and I rediscovered this one!
It’s a hardback book with a white cover. The multicoloured title is fresh and appealing and the pictures of Hugh and Fizz Carr cooking with their children, encouraged me to pick it up. On the back are more glossy pictures of ingredients, brightly coloured and mouth watering.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is well known for his TV series about healthy and sustainable living- and his commitment to ‘real food’. He campaigns for local, seasonal food, unprocessed, simple and of high quality. Fizz Carr (the co-author) holds similar views about welfare and natural food and wants to encourage young people back into the kitchen and to understand more about where their food comes from.
The book is divided into ten sections, each with an introductory section with pictures of some of the recipes and then 5-10 pages of interesting and accessible information about each one and how to use it. There are also projects to do specifically with children in each section e.g. make your own butter and grow your own tomatoes:
Sourdough bread, soda bread, pasta from scratch (including instructions for those without a pasta machine), pastry, pizza dough, flatbreads, white bread, raisin bread, scones, spaghetti carbonara and lemon tart.
Bechamel sauce, how to make your own butter, macaroni cheese, home made cream cheese, brussel sprout gratin, cheesecake, cheese straws, shortbread, home made yoghurt, home made milkshakes.
Custard, pancakes, boiled, poached and scrambled eggs, French and Spanish omelettes, meringues, Victoria sponge cake, drop scones.
Jellies, smoothies, strawberry and rhubarb fools, lemon curd, baked apples, gooseberry crumble, fruit tart, apple tart, banana bread, lemonade,
Vegetable stock, soups, mashed potatoes, sag aloo, potato wedges, roast onions, onion and cabbage with black pepper, pasta with herbs, peas with roasted peppers and chorizo, vegetable fritters, crudités and mayonnaise, guacamole, salads.
Fish and Shellfish:
Baked fish, BBQ mackerel, fried whitebait, fish fingers, fishcakes, fish pie, kedgeree, roast squid, mussels a la mariniere.
How to cook steak and make sausages, roasting a chicken, beef burgers, bolognaise, spicy lamb pie, lamb kebabs, liver and bacon, chicken curry, pheasant casserole
Flapjacks, rice pudding, fragrant rice, home made bacon, lentil and bacon soup, spicy bean stew with sausages, roast chestnuts, hummus, pear and almond pudding cake.
Sugar and Honey:
Make your own icecream and lollies, peppermint creams, honey ginger cake, fruit salad, marshmallows, strawberry parfait, custard ice cream, Turkish delight, honey fudge.
Real hot chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, chocolate truffles, making a box of chocolates, chocolate éclairs, chocolate chip cookies, brownies,
I have given all of the recipes for two reasons, one because I like to see the range of recipes before I buy a cookbook and two, so you can see that there aren’t that many considering the size of the book (around 400 pages). This isn’t supposed to be just a recipe book, it is designed to teach you about food, to be a basic and useful primer (they don’t assume you know anything!) and to be used to cook with children. It succeeds in all of these amazingly well. I feel so much more confident about cooking and the ingredients I am choosing to use. My palate and range have expanded and I have surprised myself with the food that I have created. The recipes are beautifully easy to understand, every step is explained and the recipes are accompanied by gorgeous tempting photos. The best thing in my opinion is that the resulting food ACTUALLY looks like the picture and just as tempting!
This is also good for someone on a tight budget as there are no unusual, expensive or unfamiliar ingredients to be hunted out or puzzled over in the supermarket. Most of the ingredients I had in my fridge already and any extra ingredients are in very small quantities. It also provides the opportunity to make your own Christmas presents, the last chapter especially has some delicious looking home made chocolates, that just look so easy and delectable!
Many of the recipes were already familiar to me and I approached them with a ‘know-it-all’ air, but they were all given a subtle twist and the results were much more enjoyable than anything I had produced before, even using exactly the same ingredients. The extra sections at the beginning of each chapter are useful for teaching you WHY the things are happening and where your food comes from. I have taken Hugh’s advice and am only buying meat once or twice a week, but only the very best quality and we are certainly noticing the difference in our health.
Pictures of children cooking illustrate this book, often doing surprising things. A nine year old is competently gutting a fish and a five year old is slicing up marrow (with a safe knife). It would certainly have encouraged me into the kitchen as a child to see other children confident and competent cooking and preparing food. Hugh suggests that most of the recipes can be cooked by a 10-12 year old with minimal supervision but that children of all ages will be able to join in with some help. I know many of the recipes that I tried were eminently suitable for my toddler daughter to participate in (and sample at every stage!). We have spent many pleasant hours in the kitchen with this book, most memorable creating Mr Historywitch’s birthday ‘cake’ which was a tower of chocolate éclairs. I have never tasted anything so delicious in my life, the chocolate sauce tasted divine and I had this immense sense of satisfaction having done everything myself (right down to whipping the cream!). Everything else I have made has turned out to be utterly devourable and I have had no complaints! Yesterday I made Hugh’s raisin bread and it was moist, soft and sweet and best of all I knew exactly what was in it so I was 100% confident in feeding it to my daughter.
In addition to the recipes there is a glossary, an introduction to a few basic techniques and a very comprehensive index.
Hugh has written a number of other River Cottage cookbooks (which can be found on Amazon), all of which I have added to my wish list!
Cost-RRP was £20, but Waterstones have it for £15 at the moment and WH Smiths for £8 (online- you can have it delivered to the store and pick it up without a delivery charge.
Amazon have it for £13.20. Best marketplace at £5.49
Summary: Back to basics cookbook
More reviews in the field of Cookbook
- Back to Basics
- The Sweet (and Spicy) Taste of India
- Brilliant if you want to make yourself look like a Gourmet Chef
- AUTHENTIC FLAVOUR OF ITALY
- Use your loaf
- Organise your food life to save your budget
- Veg Everyday - for Everyone
- Cupcake Heaven
- An Indian Feast without the Meat
- A solid and heartfelt cookbook
- Cooking with Fernet Branca - James Hamilton-Paterson
- The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen - Nigel Slater
- Jamie's Italy - Jamie Oliver
- The Silver Spoon
- Rick Stein's French Odyssey - Rick Stein
- The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert - Richard Betts
- The Great British Bake Off: How to Avoid a Soggy Bottom and Other Secrets to Ach ...
- The Incredible Spice Men - Cyrus Todiwala
- The Higgidy Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Pies and More - Camilla Stephens
- Sweet Things - Annie Rigg