Magazine article The Spectator

Recent Cookery Books

Magazine article The Spectator

Recent Cookery Books

Article excerpt

Recent cookery books

With Jamie and Nigella away frying other fish the TV-tie-in cookery books lack glamour this Christmas. Admittedly Delia, the most successful television cook of all, is back, but The Delia Collection: Chicken (BBC Worldwide, £9.99) and a companion volume on fish consist of previously published recipes warmed over. Tyros who started cooking AD - after Delia - could do well with them: her recipes always work. Delia's television persona springs vividly to mind when one reads such a phrase as 'a nice lemony dressing'. Vividness is sadly lacking from John Burton Race's book French Leave (Ebury, £20). After an enviable year living and cooking in rural France, the Michelin-starred chef has produced a book of familiar classic recipes, but his writing is flatter than a collapsed souffle. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Year (Hodder, £17.99), featuring some new seasonal recipes, is the same genial stuff as before; if you like him you will buy it - and cook delicious and healthy food.

Equally delicious but not quite so healthy is Chocolate (Hachette Illustrated, £12.99) by Trish Desseine, an Irishwoman living in Paris, whose clever and original book includes childish treats (Mars bar and brioche toasted sandwiches) and sophisticated puddings as well as flour-free cakes, pastries, icings, sauces and mousses. Another book for those with a sweet tooth is Cakes Regional and Traditional (Grub Street, £25) by Julie Duff, founder of the award-winning firm Church Farmhouse Cakes. Her research for authentic recipes of British regional cakes has been thorough, the results, from Northumberland Singing Hinnie to Victorian snow cake, are splendid and easily made and the book as a whole is mercifully unfashionable. Fashion is all-important for Donna Hay, an Australian food-stylist-turned-cook whose Modern Classics 2 (Fourth Estate, £16.99) deals with puddings as well as cakes. Her style of presentation (a cosy minimalism much copied in food magazines) appeals to aspiring young cooks, though many of the recipes in her book, from madeira cake to creme caramel, would have found a place in my grandmother's cooking bible, The Radiation Cookery Book of the 1950s. Leith's Techniques Bible by Susan Spaull and Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne (Bloomsbury, £35) is indeed a good book, and at 729 pages is nearly as heavy as the real thing. A textbook at Leith's, Britain's most prestigious cookery school, it answers every cookery question and includes an invaluable 'What went wrong?' section.

The other object of worship in the kitchen is the Aga, and its high priestess is Amy Willcock. …

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