A little while ago I was browsing through my local library, as always looking for recipe books to ponder. I found 'From Season to Season: A year in Recipes' by Sophie Dahl (Published 2011 by HarperCollins) of the Delicious Miss Dahl fame and brought it home for closer inspection.
The series that spawned the first of her 2 cookbooks was met with mixed reviews. Some found it sweet, whimsical and pretty to look at (the series possibly therefore captured Miss Dahl?) but most found it just too twee and were left unimpressed as to Sophie Dahl's ability to be anything more than a stupendously beautiful clothes horse. Persumably then, this is the follow up book to really make her stamp in the cooking world.
So what did I find?
So what did I find?
The book is set out by seasons and then each of these are divided again into Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. This works well and makes the book easy to navigate. Unlike many cookbooks I can source ingredients as they are currently in season as long as I'm looking at the correct section.
However, delving further in I'm dismayed at the array going on here- aloo gobi for breakfast nestles in amongst poached pears with healthy vanilla custard. Sophie is well travelled and seems to want to showcase it all inside one book. I'm all for new exciting cuisines and being adventurous but I began to suspect that Sophie spread herself too thin. Finding a fish finger sandwich confirmed this.
There's also a habit of stories throughout the book that I can't decide whether I like or not. I love food writing and have a real weakness for the food section of most newspapers at the weekend but it all comes over a little saccharine to say the least. Once again, I felt cynical and wondered how much material there really was for this book. I don't like feeling this way. I want to enjoy and delight in this book. There's pretty pictures in it to help me delight.....
Ah yes, the pictures.
The food pictures are wonderful but most of the book largely consists of Miss Dahl who by now I suspect is not eating some of the fuller fat disher. Plenty of pretty pictures of Miss Dahl,dressed in pretty, quaint little outfits, possible forgaging for food (she lives in a farm cottage).
What I tried: Baked Pumpkin with lemon, sauteed greens and toasted cumin dressing, and a Lentil Salad with a mustard dressing.
Verdict: A few nice recipes here and those I tried worked well with a good balance of flavour. I have to admit the seasonal ingredients are tenuous, as in the case of the lentils it was Mint providing the seasonal flare but I found it in the Autumnal segment. I would recommend this to someone like my sister who is a newly developing cook who wants a visually appealing recipe book with simple to recreate recipes. I would not recommend this for the die hard cooks out there. You will shudder at the fish finger sandwich rather than rejoice in the 'studentness' of it and devour one immediately, while still not following the recipe instructions as you have NO need to.
I have no idea why I mentioned that last gluttonous part......
A good review! I like her cooking show, but it does seem too twee for me sometimes, and it's a shame she isn't more edited in the cookbook.
Great review! I haven't read her second cookbook, but enjoyed her first - I read cookbooks like novels anyway so her style suits me. The TV show I just enjoyed for escapism, wishing my life, kitchen and wardrobe were that pretty ;) I'll have a look out for this one at the library.
Have you read her novel Playing with the Grown Ups? I really liked it, but it is in a similar vein!!
PS: Jamie Oliver had a fish finger sandwich in one of his earlier books too! One of those things that doesn't really need a recipe, I agree!
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