When I used to cook for a living I had a huge collection of cookery books, but when I finally hung up my pinnie and binned the rolling pin, I decided to have a purge and got rid of most of them. I had over 100 and it was getting silly as I find, and I am sure I am not alone in this, I end up using about three or four recipes from each book over and over and ignore the rest. So I copied out the recipes I wanted and got rid of the books.
And of course, have regretted it ever since and have kept an eye out for copies of my old books over the intervening years and have managed to get hold of some of them again. Totally daft I know but tell me a reader who does not do that. I came across a copy last year in a jumble sale of Josceline Dimbleby's mince cook book which I used solidly throughout the seventies and which kept my family going. Why I chucked it I shall never know but am very happy to have it again.
I now have a growing collection of cook books once more try as I might to restrict myself. My original Delia Smith Cookery Course will NEVER be binned. Never. Delia taught me to cook, taught me that cooking was easy, all you had to do was follow the recipe and do as she told me and all would be well. And it was. I have yet to use a Delia Dish that has been a failure. Time and tastes change of course but she is still the doyenne for me. Forget Nigella and Jamie, flashy chef types are not my style. Cannot bear somebody telling me to 'bung a slug' or 'drizzle' olive oil in a recipe or wilt your rocket or shave your Parmesan. Total wank.
I have recently obtained the latest Mary Berry book, Foolproof Cooking. After Delia she is my turn to person for a recipe. I have been aware of her for years and had some of her earlier books, but of course it was the Great British Bake Off which turned her into a National Treasure. Her double act with Paul Hollywood is TV gold and also the suspicion that she likes a glass or two of the cooking sherry adds to her delightful personality. This book is an accompaniment to her latest TV series full of no nonsense advice and recipes all of which look delish. The only one I have tried so far is her roasted butternut squash and pepper soup and it was gorgeous. Of course, hacking away at the squash was a nightmare and in the end, after I had nearly taken my fingers off, I binned it and resorted to ready sliced and prepared squash courtesy of Mr Waitrose.
The next two books could not be more different. Crazy Water Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry is an exploration of the dishes and ingredients of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. This was first published in 2006 and I have been sent the updated paperback and oh my goodness it is full of the most gorgeous stuff. There are sections on figs, quinces, pomegranates and dates, oranges and lemons, spices, herbs and bread. One recipe which has caught my eye, and it is always the dessert ones that do that first, is one for Leche Merengada 'meringued milk' which is a simple recipe for ice cream with lemon and cinnamon. Slug of brandy in at the end as well so have put a yellow post it note on page 23 as a reminder to try it.
Next up The Cardamon Trail by Chetna Makan. Chetna made the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off in 2014 and was one of my favourite contestants as her cooking was so imaginative and full of the most wonderful flavours. She also was simply delightful, so cheery and with a lovely smile on her face so pleased to receive this book. Not sure that a Chilli and Chocolate Mousse Cake might be for me, but the orange and cinnamon mini cakes are defo
on the list, as are the Mango and Praline eclairs. Sweet stuff again please note. On the savoury side curried chicken pie or curry onion tart sound intriguing as does the pine nut and onion rolls. Once more a beautiful book with elegant paper and wonderful illustrations.
I know I shall spend a lot of time just reading through the above and enjoying looking at the results, but I am also determined to try out some new recipes. As I have just taken delivery of a Magimix which I have yearned after for years, there is no excuse for not having a go.
I will let you know how I get on.