Coast to Coast by Rick Stein
|Coast to Coast by Rick Stein|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A compilation of over a hundred and fifty of Stein's favourite recipes might be a little too familiar for regular readers of his books but is a bargain for newcomers. It's heavy on photography but still cautiously recommended.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: October 2008|
|Publisher: BBC Books|
You know what you're going to get with Rick Stein. There's a good reason why he's a television chef, successful restaurateur and author – he delivers, on the table, on the screen and on the page, the sort of food which people want to eat. In his early days it was all about fish but in his latest book he gives recipes for food from land and sea inspired by his travels across the world.
His style is chatty and easy-going and if you've seen him on television you'll hear his voice as you read. He's occasionally ponderous and a little long-winded but frequently very funny. But there's no doubting his passion for fresh, well-sourced foods and dishes packed with flavour. It's food which is going to appeal to the current trends for seasonal, locally-produced food and they're all dishes which will stand the test of time. There's nothing faddy or which panders to fashion.
If you have all, or even a good number of his earlier books then this book might prove to be a disappointment as it's a bringing-together of over a hundred and fifty of his favourite recipes and some are going to be very familiar. If you don't have the earlier books and his style appeals to you then this is going to be an excellent investment as you're getting the best in one book.
The format is simple. The world is divided into seven regions: Britain and Ireland, Western Europe, Mediterranean and Middle East, India, Far East, Australia and New Zealand and finally The Americas. The coverage is good, even if the balance in some regions is out of kilter. The Americas, for instance, are represented by fourteen dishes – seven from the USA, six with a Mexican influence and just one from South America. That's a minor quibble though as most people are going to find food to their taste. The dishes are not necessarily authentic, but they all deliver taste and flavour and range from a relatively simple cauliflower cheese to more complex dishes such as grilled cod with laska noodles and sambal blachan. If that sounds rather daunting, don't worry as all the techniques you'll need are explained in simple terms and there's even a section giving basic recipes for such items as stock.
There's an admirable lack of the unnecessary in the recipes. I was relieved to see a Moussaka which didn't insist on vine leaves or even the green peppers, chilli and raisins which seem to creep into recipes. The result is a delicious combination of top quality lamb, tomato sauce flavoured with cinnamon and oregano, smooth béchamel sauce and a base of fried aubergines. It feeds six and it is heaven. It's versatile too – excellent for supper for the family or for a dinner party.
Fish is still Stein's strength though and I can vouch for the monkfish with saffron and roasted red pepper dressing. There's a sharpness in the dressing which sits well with the monkfish and I think this is where his genius shows. With meat, with vegetables and puddings he produces excellent food of the type that would be the best in its class. With fish he's in a different class altogether, capable of delivering something out of the ordinary.
It's a book which is a pleasure to read, with Rick's chatty introductions to each region and to the original dishes, but it is quite heavy on photography, suspiciously so in places, particularly when you realise that there are quite a few pictures of the author but he only appears to have one shirt. I can understand a picture of a finished dish, or even of unusual ingredients, but the dead rabbit, the chillies, the dried noodles and the basket of eggs tell me that this is a book which is being padded out to look more substantial than it is. That is a pity as I think the book would have still been a treasure without them.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For a book which succeeds without resorting to photography we can recommend The Kitchen Revolution by Rosie Sykes, Polly Russell and Zoe Heron. If Rick Stein's food appeals to you then we think that you'll also enjoy Moro East by Sam and Sam Clark.
Coast to Coast by Rick Stein is in the Top Ten Cookery Books.
Coast to Coast by Rick Stein is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.
You can read more book reviews or buy Coast to Coast by Rick Stein at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Coast to Coast by Rick Stein at Amazon.com.
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