Ravinder Bhogal has been described as the Fanny Craddock for the next generation by the controversial chef Gordon Ramsay. Mrs. Craddock was iconic, eccentric and often rude but Ravinder is rather attractive, humorous and could perhaps be described as a Nigela Lawson for the modern glutton. Ravinder does, in fact, consider herself a ‘greedy girl about town’. It’s evident from Cook in Boots, her first book, that good food is high up on this young lady’s agenda.
The author is a fashion and beauty journalist and Cook in Boots reflects elements of this other career. It’s a stunner, with striking photographs from Jason Lowe, although Ravinder can take some credit for the presentation as she was the food stylist for the project.
The dishes are amusing and designed to entice those of us who have differing fancies with every change of mood and circumstance. There is comfort food; I lost my man (or woman) food, PMT chocolate aid, night with the telly meals, as well as food for the end of the month when the piggy bank is empty. There is some standard fare here but lots more that is trendy and fresh.
There is a chapter entitled Hard-up Food: For when you’ve spent all your lolly on your Louboutins. A long name but catchy and would be even more so if I knew what a Louboutin was. This chapter offers some tasty dishes such as Chickpea and Potato Curry which uses time-saving tins of chickpeas (no over-night soaking). The Fork Me, Spoon Me: The food of love and rude food chapter has some sexy platefuls such as the classic Grilled Oysters with Garlic and Parsley Breadcrumbs (the archetypal aphrodisiac) and Fig Tarte Tatin which might well be this summer’s signature dish …at least it will be chez nous.
There are lots of easy but classy dishes here and Pizza with Potatoes and Thyme is on that list as it has such simple sophistication. It’s part of the Bread, Pasta, Potatoes chapter but it could just as reasonably have been included in the aforementioned Hard-up Food section or even Hangover Food. But Oreo Cookie Cheesecake will be my choice from the Comfort Food chapter and probably from the whole book. It’s a flexible recipe that will work equally as well with other sandwich biscuits such as Bourbons and Custard Creams. Ravinder says that this is best eaten in bed with a spoon like a spade. A girl after my own heart.
Cook in Boots might be the winner in the Debut Cookbook category this year. It is, I don’t doubt, going to be on the Christmas list of any greedy girl (or boy) with a sense of dash and style. A fine selection of Mood Food.
Cookbook Review: Cook in Boots
Author: Ravinder Bhogal
Published by: HarperCollins
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018