All the Fun of the Fare; Cookery

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 20, 1998 | Go to article overview

All the Fun of the Fare; Cookery


Byline: CLARISSA DICKSON WRIGHT

I always associate Christmas with cheese, the rich taste of Stilton, the little truckle cheddars like podgy sentinels and the slightly ammoniac goats cheese we always ate with walnuts on Boxing Day. Happily, a great champion of British food has now produced a well-written, useful book on the subject.

Sarah Freeman's guide to British and Irish cheeses, The Real Cheese Companion (Little, Brown [pounds sterling]12.99/ N&D Bookstore price: [pounds sterling]11.99) is a must - particularly at a time when our revitalised cheese industry is a source of both great excitement and confusion to food lovers.

Lancashire, home of delicious cheese, represents one corner of England's great heartland cookery triangle, and Michelin-starred chef Paul Heathcote is very much its resident star. In Rhubarb and Black Pudding (Fourth Estate[pounds sterling]20/[pounds sterling]17), Matthew Fort tells brilliantly the entertaining story of a year in Heathcote's kitchen. The book is full of great recipes - from Broth of Quail to Hot Banana Souffle - which are not only from Heathcote, but also from locals with such splendid names as Winnie Swarbrick.

For years I have awaited a decent new fish book - there is always such a need - so I couldn't be more pleased with Fish (Headline[pounds sterling]20/[pounds sterling]18) by Sophie Grigson and William Black, a large, authoritative volume with delicious recipes. I have always admired Grigson's culinary travelling, and there are some typically splendid, exotic choices alongside old favourites like whitebait.

Gammon and Spinach (Macmillan [pounds sterling]25/[pounds sterling]20) by Simon Hopkinson is another book from which I want to eat almost every recipe. (Who can resist Twiddled Prawns, Hot Strawberry Pie or Apple Hat?) Unconstrained by time zones as he was with The Prawn Cocktail Years, here we have Hopkinson at his award-winning, wide-ranging best.

While I am not a great fan of Madhur Jaffrey's Indian books, she excels with her international vegetable cookery. Her World Vegetarian (Ebury[pounds sterling]25/[pounds sterling]21) is a splendid encyclopaedia, with over 600 recipes sourced from around the world. Divided into five key areas covering vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts, grains and dairy, it really contains everything the vegetarian cook can ask for, and even a lot of delights for we carnivores.

Then there's Simon Morris's Cardamon and Coriander (Metro [pounds sterling]17.

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