I have wanted to review the Step-by-Step cookbook for ages. Good Housekeeping have a marvellous range of books and I’ll be reviewing more in future but the Step-by-Step cookbook is rather special. I already have the Good Housekeeping Cooking Compendium which was first published in 1952 with reprints till 1959. That book with its thousands of black and white photographs (with a few daring colour shots of iced cakes) held such fascination for me that it was my regular Sunday morning “reading” matter between the ages of three and ten when we finally bought a TV that worked.
Perhaps it was leafing through hundreds of recipes with their associated step-by-step photographic instructions that encouraged me to believe that I too could cook…when I was tall enough to reach the chopping block. None of us are born cooks so a good confidence-boosting recipe book is essential (unless you were fortunate enough to have a mum, auntie or gran to teach you the basics and a few family recipes).
Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook boasts 650 easy-to-follow techniques and 400 triple-tested recipes, and those recipes are contemporary and for modern living. The Good Housekeeping Institute was set up in 1924 and the world has changed since then. We have access to a broader spectrum of foods; we have kitchen gadgets unheard of by our great grandmothers who would probably consider themselves lazy if they sat down to peel potatoes. We expect to spend less time in the kitchen but we want to present healthy and delicious meals.
Each chapter covers a food topic, starting with Stocks and Soups and progressing through Fish, Meat, Vegetables to Cakes and Preserves and everything in between. There are sections on Herbs and Spices, Freezing and Drying, Microwaves and information about equipment which you might find interesting should you be setting up your first kitchen.
The Meat and Poultry chapters have some of the best butchery illustrations I have seen. The Fruit and Nuts chapter has everything from hulling strawberries to cracking coconuts. Sweet and Savoury Breads chapter offers advice on hand-made breads and also on using a bread machine. For the more adventurous and those with a sweet tooth there is comprehensive information on working with sugar, and the Chocolate pages are equally detailed.
So, we have discussed the 650 techniques and now we can enjoy the food! The recipes are broad-based and include some classics and some ethnic dishes. This isn’t a themed cookbook so its appeal will be universal but that’s not a hard status to achieve when there are 400 recipes to choose from.
I have quite a few favourites from this book and it has taken me as much time to reduce the list to manageable proportions as it did to select the dishes in the first place. Rabbit Casserole with Prunes (don’t pull that face, try it and you’ll love it), Chilli Onions with Goat’s Cheese (a lovely summer starter or light lunch), Easy Pear and Toffee Tarte Tatin (it’s easy!), Garlic Cheese Pizza (home-made pizza is always a winner)… and I could go on!
Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook is an ideal wedding present, house-warming gift or subtle hint to leave home (they will be fine armed with this volume). I am just as impressed by the photographic instruction as I expected and perhaps more impressed by the recipes than I had anticipated. Amazing value for money.
Cookbook Review: Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook
Author: Good Housekeeping Institute
Published by: Collins and Brown – Anova
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018