Good Reading : August 2009
word of mouth food REVIEWED BY MEG THOMASON I n the Kitchen is by husband-and-wife chefs Allan Campion and Michele Curtis, the parents of two children. They have long had an enthusiastic following for their cookbooks on how to feed a family joyously, yet without losing sight of practicality and good health. This book is their masterpiece, gathering all their favourite recipes for a rich and wonderful 1000-plus page collection, and it includes a treasury of helpful notes and useful information. It’s very big but, unlike many blockbusters, it is easy to navigate, thanks to such real-life chapter headings as Slow Cooking (braises and casseroles), Soups and Breads, Barbies, and Lunchbox Ideas. It goes all the way from such basics as poached and scrambled eggs to soufflés, with hundreds of simple, delicious-sounding, everyday ideas in between. Intelligent use is made of such ready-mades as pizza bases, sugo (Italian tomato sauce) and canned beans or fish. Some recipes – muffins that taste like doughnuts, spaghetti with breadcrumbs, tuna, parsley and lemon, Oriental roast chicken, Allan’s gravy – couldn’t be left out because they have adoring fans. A book that really could solo as your faithful kitchen companion, and also as great bedtime reading, provided you have a good firm cushion to park it on. C oast to Coast is by Rick Stein, who came to fame as the chef and owner of the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall, to which people would travel long distances in order to eat perfect fish and shellfish. He still has the restaurant but has long since become, nt also, a beloved author and television chef who shares his joy in every kind of fresh, well-sourced food with millions. Coast to Coast is vintage Stein – an enjoyable read built around 150 of his most popular dishes. Some of them were gifts, generously acknowledged, from chefs and other cooks around the world who are his friends, others are his inspirations based on the tastes and textures that have excited him in his travels. The recipes are organised by region: Britain and Ireland, Western Europe, Mediterranean and Middle East, India, Far East, Australia and New Zealand, and The Americas. He takes you from the acclaimed Padstow deli crab sandwich and his classic Cornish steak pasty to Indian prawn-stuffed pappadums, Japanese nigira sushi, American corn fritters and buttermilk pancakes with blueberry and lemon er, Thai hot and r fish soup, and stralian mud-crab om omelette and v R L sub-titled ‘C 46 goodreading ı AUGUST 2009 vlova with cream d passionfruit. eady, Steady, Lunchbox is ‘Cooking for kids and with kids’. It actually goes beyond the lunchbox, with ideas for before and after school as well as inspired thoughts for a packed lunch – roll-ups, frittatas, fritters, meatballs and noodle, rice or finger salads, as well as a raft of fresh sandwich ideas. Very young children could help with some recipes – mixing muesli ingredients and storing them airtight, folding fruit or honey through yoghurt – but most are for older children or, of course, for adults looking for fast inspiration. The emphasis is on healthy eating, including hot chips and chicken nuggets that are baked instead of fried. All recipes are set out in easy numbered steps, and there is a ‘read this first’ page on being organised, how to measure ingredients and observing hygiene and safety. This would be a great book for helping an overweight child (or adult, for that o matter) with ideas for eating healthily yet satisfyingly. In the Kitchen I Allan Campion and Michele Curtis ★★★★ Hardie Grant $69.95 Coast to Coast I Rick Stein ★★★ BBC Books $59.95 Ready, Steady, Lunchbox I Lucy Broadhurst ★★★ Murdoch $29.95 Everything about books ONLINE www.goodreadingmagazine.com It could also be useful at other stages of life, offering alternatives to fast food for the young who have moved from home, and interesting choices for the elderly who want to make something nice without too much trouble.