There seem to be a fair amount of cookbooks out this year all about teaching cookery, such as the Rosemary Shrager book I reviewed a few weeks ago, and the Cookery School book I looked at a while back. James Martin's new book also follows the same idea, though it doesn't alienate a more confident cook. The book is split into 10 chapters including Soups, Stews and Pies, Red Meat, Pasta and Grains and Vegetarian. The introduction is very brief, it pretty much goes straight into recipes which I appreciate. There only seems to be 1 photograph per 3 recipes which is a shame but what is there is mouthwatering, apart from the Braised Fennel with Breadcrumbs and Ricotta - it's very beige! There is a good mix of the simple which could be made easily (Cream of Cauliflowers soup, Bang Bang Chicken and Poached Pears in Perry) to the more challenging (Chocolate, Mint and Satsuma Bread, Classic Beef Wellington and Potato and Duck Confit Terrine with Sweet Red Cabbage Chutney).
At first I wasn't sure if there was a lot I would want to make, I don't tend to make pies, I don't eat lamb and the side dishes are pretty boring, but on second and third viewings there were more and more things I fancied trying - unfortunately the chilli squid being one! Oh well! There wasn't any fresh in our local supermarket either so I was obviously being told something!
There are a few step by step pages to teach you how to do things such as filleting round and flat fishes, how to cut a chicken into 10 pages and how to poach an egg. I don't think I'd buy the book for these guides, there are books that do it better but it is a nice addition. For my first recipe I tried the Best Beff Burgers in the World. How could I not check if these lived up to their name?! The quality of beef is key in this recipe, James asks for tail of beef fillet or great quality minced beef. I went with the cheaper mince offer which worked well. There were plenty of additions to the burger including dijon mustard, chopped gherkins (more the better in my opinion!), shallot and double cream. The cream was a surprise but there was no egg in the mixture so it helped to bind the burger.