To celebrate the publication of What to Cook and How to Cook it I was asked to a carbonara-off between Jane Hornby and Marco Torri (Head Chef at Ristorante Semplice). Both would cook their carbonara, (Jane’s recipe from the book) and a group of us would taste them blind and give our opinion. Tough stuff and a real palate test! Who won is a story for another post; both carbonaras were very different, and it was a good introduction to Jane’s delightful book.
Jane Hornby is a trained chef and has spent many years working for the BBC Good Food Magazine and has edited several of the Good Food series of 101 recipe books. Published by Phaidon, this book is beautifully laid out and perfectly photographed. Every step of every recipe is clearly photographed, from a line up of ingredients (which makes a long list look far less daunting), to how to chop and prep, to the finished dish. It is the visual equivalent of having Jane at your side in the kitchen. Coupled with the ultra clear and well written directions,I believe that anyone provided with an equipped kitchen could cook anything from this book.
All the recipes can easily be created from ingredients exclusively bought from the supermarket. For the novice cook there is a handy shopping guide, glossary and preparation photos.
There are 100 recipes in the book, divided into sections to cover all eventualities including Breakfast and Brunch, Light Lunches, Simple Suppers to Desserts and Baking. Recipes cover British classics such as a full English breakfast, simple soups, sausages & mash, all manner of roasts, to apple crumble & custard. Also included are lots international dishes such as Pad Thai, Mediterranean fish stew and key lime pie, and of course the carbonara recipe! I think that the book covers the vast majority of dishes that people in Britain would name as their favourites.
I am thrilled to have a copy on my cookbook shelves, and I think that due to the outstanding photography and unambiguous instructions it is also a perfect present for any novice or unconfident cook (how many other cookbooks actually clearly explain how to separate an egg for example?) I am already looking forward to Jane’s next book.
Many thanks to Jane & Sauce Communications for my free copy of the book, and to Marco and Trattoria Semplice for hosting the evening and the lovely food and wine.