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Season’s eatings: recipe books reviewed

30 November 2018

Simon Walsh explores recipe books reflecting a variety of milieux

© david loftus

Goose, an English Christmas tradition served up in Tom Parker Bowles’s Fortnum & Mason book

Goose, an English Christmas tradition served up in Tom Parker Bowles’s Fortnum & Mason book

THERE is a good variety of cookery books on offer this Christmas to suit most tastes and abilities, reflecting how most recipe curations nowadays have colour photos and personality, with a genuine idea of the home cook’s demands.

The Borough Market Cookbook is a love letter to the foodie Mecca that nestles alongside Southwark Cathedral and London Bridge. It encourages both market shopping and seasonal eating, interspersed with facts and stories about the market’s history and community. Clear and chatty, there is plenty here of interest along with tips on the stalls and shops.

For celebrity glitter, there’s the TV tie-in Gino’s Italian Adriatic Escape, complete with Signor D’Acampo himself on the cover looking like a sunlit snack. Each illustrated recipe has a short, insightful intro. There are only a few pasta dishes: the bulk of the book gives plenty of space to fish and vegetarian, and the meat dishes are all cookable and flavoursome.

A good, no-nonsense all-rounder is Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery Course. Billed as “From everyday basics to my favourite feasts”, there is a whiff of home economics about it — which is no bad thing. A number of standards, yes (pizza, Yorkshire pudding), but most with an interesting twist. Again, it is a collection with cookability in mind, and it is chock-full of advice.

The Hub Community grew out of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, when a group of women from the area joined together to cook for their families and neighbours. The result, Together, is a beautiful collection of 50 personal recipes from throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The foreword is by the Duchess of Sussex, and all proceeds go to the Royal Foundation charity and straight back into Hub. It’s a must-have.

One tome that really does catch the eye is Fortnum & Mason: Christmas and other winter feasts, by Tom Parker Bowles. It is not just festive posh nosh from the Prince of Wales’s stepson, but a true celebration of British cuisine, told through the eyes of this great store and its restaurants, inside a cover of their famous mint-green livery. Jolly cartoons from previous catalogues illustrate a rich diversity of dishes that will feed, impress, appetise, and merit coming back to, throughout that dark stretch from Bonfire Night to Lent.

Simon Walsh is a contributor to the Church Times cookery column.

The Borough Market Cookbook
Ed Smith
Hodder & Stoughton £25
Church Times Bookshop £22.50

Gino’s Italian Adriatic Escape
Hodder & Stoughton £20
Church Times Bookshop £18

Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery Course
BBC Books £20
Church Times Bookshop £18

Together: Our community cookbook
The Hub Community Kitchen
Ebury Press £9.99

Fortnum & Mason: Christmas and other winter feasts
Tom Parker Bowles
Fourth Estate £30
Church Times Bookshop £27

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