How To Be A Better Cook is a lovely book, packed full of easy but not boring recipes for all levels of cook to enjoy.
The main meals are separated into three sections (chicken; fish and shellfish; pork, beef and lamb), making it easy to find a recipe to suit what you’ve got in the fridge. There are a lot more savoury than sweet recipes and there wasn’t a baking or a breakfast/brunch section which is a bit disappointing knowing how good Pascale is at those. I liked the Vegetables and Sides section best and I think the salads were, on the whole, the least exciting.
There are notes at the side of each recipe – details of what sort of occasion the recipe suits, alternative ideas and where the dish came from. Each part of the recipe gets its own ingredient list and the equipment is listed as well. It’s brilliant to see so many slow cooker options, something that often makes good food much easier and economical. There are levels of difficulty in each section so that you can build up or pick and choose what you can manage. Pascale has noted where ingredients might be hard to find but most of them are readily available.
It could perhaps have been a little more detailed in places, there are some recipes where mistakes might be made if you weren’t used to cooking. Little extras such as how full to fill muffin cases, how deep to score a roast chicken would have been really useful. Overall, however it was easy to use and the recipes simple to follow. Another hugely helpful thing is that most of the recipes are on one page – so no flicking between pages mid-cooking.
The photography and styling is gorgeous. Some of the extra image pages are a bit too bland but the food pictures are wonderfully tempting. It would perhaps have been nice to have a couple of step-by-step pictures for the more complex dishes to help out less experienced cooks.
My favourite recipes were the Caramelised Spring Onion and Bacon Scrolls with Rosemary and Olive Oil; the Roast Sesame, Soy and Honey Chicken; the Crispy Roasted Cabbage with a Warm Pecan and Thyme Dressing and the Spiced Apple Tarte Tatins with Vanilla Frozen Yoghurt.
How To Be A Better Cook is an easy and enjoyable read. For simple ideas there are some brilliantly original recipes as well as nice alternatives to familiar dishes. This is a real crowd-pleaser with lots of recipes to suit all sorts of tastes. It would make a great Christmas present for people who love food but aren’t too confident in the kitchen.
Learning how to cook is great fun – often full of disasters as well! Leave a comment letting me know what your worst/funniest/most memorable cooking disaster was and the best story will get their own copy of How To Be A Better Cook from the lovely people at HarperCollins!
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