This is a jolly book and it’s not often a cookbook is described in that fashion. It almost has the feel of an old-fashioned Christmas Annual. It’s vibrant with bold colour and iconic images of products which have stood the test of time for taste and package design. It’s penned by Paul Hartley who has already a clutch of ‘brand’ books under his culinary belt. This is a compendium of some of the most celebrated products.
The Great British Storecupboard Cookbook starts with Marmite. This will encourage my British reader to either exclamations of unadulterated horror or no sound at all – the reader having instantly headed for the toaster and a jar of that savoury and black nectar of the gods. Tuscan Picnic Loaf has the air of Continental sophistication and includes a dessertspoon of Marmite. A little goes a long way, which makes this product an economic flavour-enhancer.
Colman’s Mustard is a classic. Its distinctive tin has graced larders for generations. It’s the key ingredient in Piccalilli, that yellow and warming companion to many a platter of cheese or cold cuts. Fillet of Beef Romanoff is perhaps a classier dish which makes liberal use of this powerful condiment.
HP Sauce is another British standard found on cafe tables, in burger wagons and store cupboards throughout the land. It is the shake of choice for many who could not possibly eat a meat pie without it. There are those who prefer it with fish and chips. Its strength is, however, that it adds balance and richness to so many dishes. The Great British Storecupboard Cookbook offers Oxtail Soup which uses a dash of HP. No, one doesn’t taste the HP, it just adds a certain je ne sais quoi.
This is an amusing but practical cookbook. Its use of bygone advertising imagery is charming. It is most definitely a book from which to cook. The recipes are well written and sensible. Yes, they use readymade products but let us not feel ashamed to use those bottles and jars. They have endured for decades because they are good. We have more food choices now than ever before but there are brands that we still reach for. The Great British Storecupboard Cookbook has a selection of the best branded products and reminds us that a soupçon of Bovril will perk up a rabbit stew, a drizzle of Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce is essential for many meat dishes, and a syrup Sponge Pudding could never have anything other than Lyles Golden Syrup as its crowning glory.
The Great British Storecupboard Cookbook is a winner. It will be appreciated by both serious home cooks and the novice who would like to be introduced to simple, flavourful dishes which use common ingredients. There are more than 200 recipes to tempt every palate and temperament.
The Great British Storecupboard Cookbook
Author: Paul Hartley
Published by: Absolute Press
ISBN 13: 9781906650117
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018