Four Seasons Cookery Book is a classic and enjoying a revival, although, truth to tell, it has never been out of favour with lovers of food and a well-penned cookbook.
Margaret Costa wrote Four Seasons Cookery Book in 1970 but the concept of eating seasonally is now more popular than ever, and this new edition is appealing to a new generation of cooks. This is the book for which successful chefs have haunted second-hand book shops. This is the volume that was never found in a charity shop. This is the cookbook that was always USED! How rare is that!
I can’t tell you that Four Seasons Cookery Book is awash with colour photographs. It is a book of its time, and a more solid example of food writing is hard to find. If you spend more than a few minutes leafing through you will be convinced that this is the cookbook you would save should the house catch fire!
Four Seasons is divided….well, into four seasons. Each part has sub-headings which are evocative of that time of year and of the seasonal meals to be enjoyed. Summer has Cold Soups, Crab, Strawberries. Winter has us dreaming of Comforting Breakfasts of Kedgeree and Marmalade Popovers. And you have got to love a book that devotes some space to Proper Puddings.
There are so many marvellous recipes here that will be new to younger readers. We wax lyrical about the Steak au Poivre that we ate in that bistro in Paris, but you seldom find the recipe in a modern book and it’s easy to prepare. Or how about the classic Crepe Suzette which sounds complicated but is in fact quite simple and always a stunner. Although there is a definite classic French element, old-fashioned British fare isn’t forgotten. There are recipes for Cumberland Rum Butter, Lardy Cake, and many more.
There is so much about this book that just shouts charm. The style of writing is poetic – “Shrilly pink and pretty, crisp slender stems of forced rhubarb are one of the consolations of late winter and early spring.” There are dishes in this book that I haven’t seen in ages and Four Seasons Cookery Book inspires me to make these again. Yes, perhaps that’s the word for this book, inspiring.
Four Seasons Cookery Book
Author: Margaret Costa
Published by: Grub Street
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018