By Kylie Archer

cookbook review

Every now and then I am overtaken by an overwhelming desire to experiment with an ingredient that has previously never featured in my cooking. And normally I begin with some idea like…”that looks like such and such it should be fine to sub it in that recipe”…..and every now and then…said subbing turns into a remarkable dish. I say every now and then because more often than not it can be disastrous.

Let me tell you my okra story. “Wow! That looks like mini zucchini! Maybe I’ll put those in my ratatouille?”. It was a packet of 500grams of okra reduced to 50cents. Who could resist? I grabbed the other ingredients and headed home (we lived upstairs from Coles!). So I chopped into my first little okra….and this sticky, gooey, slimey stuff emerged. Ratatouille wasn’t going to happen. So rather than turn to google, I opened my Stephanie Alexander Cook’s Companion and went to okra. I found an amazing prawn and okra dish that we had for the next two nights to use up my “mini zucchinis”!

I’m ever so tempted when the ingredient challenge is posted on MamaBake’s Facebook page to just grab Stephanie and look up something amazing that will leave you all thinking I’m some uber-fabulous culinary genius. I haven’t done it yet…but keep a look out. I guess the thing with this book is it covers pretty much everything, in alphabetical order.

It feels like Stephanie is personally talking you through what to do with ingredients. There are little asides, notes down the sides of pages and it is organised sensibly. Even the ex-school teacher in me finds it easy to read!

The custard tart in the book rocks (filed under eggs), but it’s not just about the recipes, it is about helping you to prepare ingredients correctly and even select them. It’s the book I’d need if I was a chef on Ready, Steady, Cook.

It’s expensive: a great engagement or wedding gift or just an indulgent purchase that you won’t regret!

8/10. Again my two marks off come from a lack of pictures! I NEED THE PICTURES!

Buy it here.



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