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Cook Step by Step

Cook Step By Step

This hefty self-proclaimed ‘modern day recipe bible’ arrived a month ago and we’ve been arguing about it ever since. Who knew that women and men used cookery books so differently? We thought we’d share what we think of it in a handy double review/argument format…

HE SAYS: I love it when a cookery book shows you a realistic picture of what your food is going to look like. That’s what this book does and that’s why it’s great – it’s like the Haynes manual but for food. You can’t go wrong.

SHE SAYS: Er, sorry, but I don’t agree one bit! I’m all about the romance when it comes to cookery books – I love dreamy pictures, essays about why mackerel turned the chef on to cooking fish and, in the case of the new River Café book, the pictures of fat Italian ladies eating ice creams in their swimsuits! With this book, it certainly does feel like a car manual – where is the love and inspiration? Food isn’t just food anymore, it’s emotive, inspirational and sexy. But not here.

HE SAYS: That’s just not what this book is about! It’s a practical book for beginner to intermediate chefs. You’ve got step-by-step pictures through each recipe so you can master the techniques all the way through. That’s revolutionary – thank goodness there aren’t any self-indulgent essays about chef’s childhoods (haven’t we heard them all now?) – and it’s really helpful if you’re not a highly trained or confident chef.

SHE SAYS: I suppose the proof is in the pudding. I’m not the most confident chef but I still managed to cook the five-spice fillet of salmon recipe for tea and it came out perfectly. The publishers say that the step-by-step process guarantees success every time which is a bold claim – with over 300 recipes, surely they can’t all be good and easy?

HE SAYS: Maybe, but I like the fact that there are so many recipes – there’s such breadth and depth, with chapters called ‘home from work’, ‘comfort food’ and ‘food to share’ there’s definitely something for everyone. In fact, you probably don’t need another book once you’ve got this.

SHE SAYS: I am dubious about books with so many recipes in them in the same way that I’d shy away from a restaurant with an overlong menu – what I like is someone choosing the very best ideas rather than offering their mediocre ones too. But I’ll concede that this book does have something for everyone – with a ‘pies, tarts and cakes’ section as well as ‘spectacular desserts’, I’m certainly happy that there are enough sweets.

HE SAYS: It’s a great book to buy for a friend who is starting to get into cooking, or if you feel like you’d like to learn some new tricks. I’d give it 3 ½ potatoes (out of five).

SHE SAYS: Overall, it’s good, practical and effective and I can’t fault it on that. Does this make it the new Delia-style cooking manual for the 2010s? That’s certainly what it’s aiming for, but it’s just missing a bit of passion and romance for me. I’d give it 2 potatoes.


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One Comment

  1. Like the format of this review and just goes to show that reviews are very personal and judging by the comments from both “He” and “She” I think I’d fall somewhere in the middle (does that make me “He-She”?!!) as I love to see photos of the end result of a recipe but I do also appreciate a bit of the background blurb, introductions to recipes and beautiful food related photography providing it doesn’t mean sacrificing a photo of the final dish!

    Nice blog :-)

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