As a child I spent hours poring over my mother’s cookbooks, particularly the one that had step-by-step photos of techniques like cooking a crab, making hollandaise and divesting an artichoke of its leaves. That book was full of exotic terminology and ingredients which didn’t have much place in the 1980s Irish countryside but a lot of what I picked up has become invaluable to me since.
Cookery School is orientated along the same lines. Each section – starters, fish, meat and puddings – is divided into levels (basic, intermediate, advanced) and there is an strong focus on learning the skills that will get you through. These are probably all covered in the Channel 4 programme that this book accompanies – without a TV or broadband it’s difficult to tell! – but having step-by-step photos will ensure that you have something to prop in front of you while making a smoker with tea and sugar, jointing a chicken or using filo pastry for the first time.
That said, this is not a basic cookbook; from the start you’re making tempura batter for Deep Fried Oysters with a Honey and Black Pepper Glaze, cutting vegetables into julienne for Thai Pork Lettuce Cups and learning how souffles work for Twice Baked Goat’s Cheese Souffles with Leeks and Walnuts.
While some dishes seem overly fiddly, there are no shortage of ideas here for your next dinner party. It’s the perfect book for someone who wants to elevate the food that they cook for dinner parties to the next level.
Must try: Sticky Red Onions with a Poached Egg and Herb Butter, Tea Smoked Mackerel with Beetroot Stew and Fresh Curd, Apple Souffles with a Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Cookery School is published by Michael Joseph. Thanks to the publishers for the review copy.