Cookbooks seem to fall into one of two categories. There are those that are stunningly beautiful, and those that are full of recipes that you will want to make on a regular basis. It’s rare that one will find a cookbook that straddles both genres, but The Golden Book of Cooking does that with style.
It’s that time of year. You’ll likely be searching for that perfect gift for your nearest and perhaps dearest home cook. He/she has a shelf full of celebrity-penned (oh, really!) cookbooks and they are indeed dipped into from time to time; but how’s about a gift-quality book that offers a truly great recipe on each page? So many cookbooks suffer from the “album” syndrome: you buy it but there is only one good track. The Golden Book of Cooking is so broad-based that it’s bound to spend more time in the kitchen than on those shelves.
This is another in that attractive “Golden” series from Apple Press. They have found the knack of presenting books stuffed with delicious and flavourful dishes made from simple recipes. The secret to its popularity is the full-page picture for every recipe. That gives a bit of support to the less confident and a bit of inspiration for tonight’s dinner.
The recipes here are an eclectic bunch of traditional dishes from across the globe. Lots that will be familiar, and many new takes on old favourites. Some interesting suggestions from Australia including Downunder Meat Pies, the first recipe for such that I have come across; and the ever-popular Lamingtons – chocolate and coconut-coated sponge cakes.
Each chapter is divided by food type – Rice, Vegetables, Poultry, etc. The recipes appeal to all tastes, with spicy dishes from India and Thailand, aromatic Tagines from Morocco as well as a full complement of European and North American classics. The Golden Book of Cooking would make a very worthy one-stop cookbook for someone who is short of space and wants a single volume to cover the basics of everything and to be able to make dishes that people have actually heard of.
Massaman Curry is a favourite of mine but it’s shocking how many recipes start with “Take a jar of Massaman curry paste.” Well, for a start I have never found such a product (OK, so I have never seriously looked), and secondly, it’s far better to make one’s own fresh and flavourful pastes. The Golden Book of Cooking offers a real from-scratch recipe that is a delight. It’s a substantial meal as a one-pot dish or serve rice on the side to make that pricey meat stretch a bit further.
My pick-of-the-book is Cabbage Kimchi. This is a celebrated dish in Korea where many families still make enough of these pickled vegetables to last through the winter. It was traditionally stored in huge jars buried in the frozen soil. It’s surprisingly easy to make although it takes almost two weeks of waiting before it’s sufficiently fermented to achieve its tangy perfection.
The Golden Book of Cooking will be on many a Christmas list and with good reason. Over 250 recipes to tempt every palate. Definitely a must for any enthusiastic cook.
The Golden Book of Cooking
Authors: Carla Bardi and Rachel Lane
Published by: Apple Press
ISBN 978-1-84543 4182
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018