Eat - The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater
|Eat - The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Based on his first cookery book, Eat revisits some recipes, discards others and bring the idea of cooking dinner up-to-date. You will feel hungry reading it. Highly recommended despte its rather quirky presentation.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: September 2013|
|Publisher: Fourth Estate|
|External links: Author's website|
In my kitchen there's a battered (in both senses of the word) copy of Real Fast Food, Nigel Slater's first book. Twenty one years later he's revisited the idea and given us Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food. Now it's 'small' as any book containing over six hundred ideas for dinners (complete with lots of excellent photographs by Jonathan Lovekin) can be small - and the food is fast in the sense that you're talking about a maximum of an hour, although occasionally the cooking takes longer. I'm glad that we're moving away from the idea of getting food on the table as quickly as possible - it's not a race - as cooking can be a real pleasure and eating it an even bigger one.
I'm going to get a few niggles out of the way first. The layout of the recipes is not quite as most people would expect. I'm used to a list of ingredients complete with quantities, then method along with any notes. On all these recipes you get a list of ingredients (such as 'ham, bacon, butter, eggs, cheese...') but with the quantities shown in the recipe. For many of the recipes the information starts on the right-hand page (complete with photograph) but any notes ('A few thoughts') is on the left hand page. On occasions I found this confusing - thinking that the thoughts related to the recipe on the previous page - and it's certainly counter-intuitive. And a cloth binding? I'd have liked something a bit more wipeable!
You might be familiar with some of the recipes from Nigel Slater's column in The Observer Magazine - usually in the midweek dinners section. I've just had a major clear out of all those pages torn out of the magazine which were cluttering up the kitchen and which appear in the book. There's another novel arrangement of recipes here too - it's by how you'd like to eat or cook, starting with In the Hand and there's everything there from wraps, sandwiches and burgers, some (duck burgers?) more luxurious than others. If you prefer not to get your hands quite so close to your food then you'll probably be happier in In a Bowl, which looks as soups and more substantial bowls of food. I love split peas with aubergine - it's tasty and reasonably frugal.
We then move on to how you'd like to cook, starting with the frying pan, which - as you might expect - goes a little further than the standard bacon and egg fry up. I loved the idea of rice cakes, which uses leftover risotto. The only problem in this house would be getting hold of the leftovers. Perhaps more realistic is the courgettes with bacon gremolata. 'Frying Pan' is a big section with just short of eighty pages of recipes: there are only eighteen devoted to the grill and being honest I found this the weakest section of the book.
Slater seems more at home 'On the Hob' with a varied selection from the quirky chicken skin popcorn, a delicious lentil bolognaise and a light chicken ragu which is destined to have quite a few outings. I was most at home in 'Little Stews' - it's a bit late in the year for lamb with asparagus, but it won't be forgotten. My favourite is aubergine curry. Generally these stews are cooked on the hob, but there are more delights in store when we get to 'In the Oven'. Sausage Danish is a novel take on the the sausage roll - and following the sausage theme, sausage, mash and tomato gravy is already a firm favourite.
I've long been of the opinion that you can put a crust of some sort on lots of stews and make them into something more substantial. Don't restrict yourself to pastry or potato - start with slow cooked beef pie with celeriac rosti crust and go on from here. Puddings merit only a small section (SHAME!) but there are some real treats. I had actually tried the mango and passion fruit mess when it appeared in The Observer Magazine a few weeks ago and it's a delight.
I've just given you a taster (sorry...) of the type of recipes in the book. There's something for every season and just about every occasion, with simple instructions and not too much kit required. Just occasionally I wondered where I would be able to get some of the ingredients - this part of Yorkshire isn't flush with Middle Eastern stores, for example - but it occurs in a small enough proportion of the recipes for it not to be a problem.
This is usually the point where I thank the publisher for sending me a copy of the book - not this time though! I bought this one.
If you're happy to spend rather longer on your cooking then we can recommend Simon Hopkinson Cooks.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eat - The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Eat - The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.