OK, so I confess that I have not seen Valentine Warner in his TV series of What to Eat Now. But that does rather give me an edge when it comes to reviewing the cookbook. No preconceptions, no prejudices, just an independent look. I wasn’t expecting much – there are, dear reader, those recipe books that rest on the laurels of TV shows. When they are good they are very very good, but when they are bad they are horrid.
Reviewing What to Eat Now – More Please has been a truly pleasant experience. It’s a many-faceted delight. A good read, a laugh, lovely artwork from our hero, and some of the best food photography around from Howard Sooley, but also food stylist Sarah O’Keefe should get a mention. There are lots of pictures that are imaginative and full of humour.
Yes, I do appreciate good food photography and sketches, but the food will be the reason you’ll buy the book. It’s a first-rate collection of spring and summer dishes that will tempt you away from your casserole-garnished winter and into the lighter fare of the warmer (we hope) months. There is plenty here for both meat-eaters and vegetarians.
Orangey Honey Buns are syrup-drenched desserts made from a yeast-based sponge. Valentine says they are ideal for afternoon tea but also as a pudding at 3 o’clock in the morning!
I had always thought that a Greek Breakfast was five cigarettes, two cups of thick coffee and a swing or two of some worry-beads, but here Valentine offers home-made Greek yoghurt with fennel seeds, thyme and oregano, served with a juicy peach. What could be nicer on a bright summer morning!
Potted Crab is one of the most appealing dishes in the book. Yes it is, without doubt, a fiddle. There is no way that I will describe it as done in a flash, easy as falling off a lobster pot… or whatever they catch crabs in. It is equally true to say that there is nothing like the taste of real crab from the shell. It’s worth the effort.
The book’s signature dish is, for me at least, Prawn Tangiers. This is a marvellous concoction of prawns, spinach and tomatoes, perfumed with cumin seeds and garlic. Serve this with some fresh bread and a big spoon.
What to Eat Now – More Please has been a joy and I’ll continue dipping into its pages. I’ve already chosen the next recipe to try: looks like the Green Bean Chutney!
Cookbook review: What to Eat Now – More Please
Author: Valentine Warner
Published by Mitchell Beazley
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018