Photograph courtesy of Dorling Kindersley Ltd., London.
I have been a fan of Mary Berry, CBE, for as long as I can remember. Her no-nonsense, but gentle approach, whether it be on TV or in her writing, is all that is needed to teach and guide. She is, simply put, The Queen of Cooking and Baking!
She is one of the U.K’s best-known and respected cookery writers and television presenters. In a survey conducted by The Cake Awards 2013, Mary Berry was voted as Britain’s favourite baking companion, beating the likes of other celebrity chefs.
Her philosophy regarding food is simple; buy the very best you can afford, and as locally produced as possible. Read through every recipe to make sure you either have the ingredients, or know what to shop for. Always have some store-cupboard essentials, such as tinned tomatoes, rice, pasta, and baking ingredients such as flour, sugar, baking powder. These are items which keep well and are used most often.
The premise of this book is to show her readers exactly how to cook her recipes, by carefully guiding them through each one. She begins each chapter with a master-recipe which can be carried through and used as the basis for many other dishes. The book is aimed at those with all levels of cooking and baking skills, from beginners, right through to the experienced home cook.
She lists the basic equipment to get you started on your cooking journey, such as ovenware, bowls and utensils, processing tools, and provides an “at a glance” technique-finder for skills used, some of which are basic, others are more specific. The recipes are laid out in a very user-friendly manner. A clear list of ingredients, numbered steps in the methods, and a large whole-page photograph to go with each one, showing what you are aiming for. I was particularly impressed with the recipe photography (by Tony Briscoe, a London-based food and drink photographer), and the styling, as a minimal number of “props” were used so as not to detract from the finished item.
I am looking forward to trying quite a few of the recipes from this delightful book over the coming weeks.
Verdict: Far be it from me to pass judgement on Ms. Mary Berry! However, as an experienced home baker and cook, I was struck by the simplicity of the recipe layouts. She has found a middle ground to appeal to those with all levels of skills, without compromising or patronising anyone’s culinary ability.
Would I buy this book?: Absolutely YES! I would wholeheartedly recommend it , as it has over 100 recipes, starters, mains, desserts, breads and cakes to supplement your own repertoire and would make the perfect gift (to self) or for the budding cook in your life. It is easy to follow with useful hints and tips dotted throughout.
Besides, who doesn’t love a cookbook with a pretty ribbon bookmark….. not me!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Dorling Kindersley. A review was not requested, and written at my discretion. My photographs of extracts from the book are reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley.