Celebrity chef cookbooks

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Time Out reviews the best celebrity recipe books to give you culinary inspiration

Three Good Things

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, £25

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingtall must be a very busy man. There's the River Cottage brand and business to run, TV programmes to make, and fish to save (in his influential Fish Fight campaign). Yet, every year or so, he still finds time to write a new cookbook.

This latest, ‘Three Good Things’, a tie-in with his upcoming Channel 4 show of the same name, has the premise that most great dishes comprise three key components. ‘Tomato, avocado and mozzarella; scallops, bacon and pea purée; rhubarb, crumble and custard... They all work, don't they?’ as Fearnley-Whittingstall puts it. And as a ‘component’ can be anything from a single ingredient to a whole homemade almond, honey and polenta cake, this leaves plenty of scope.

The result? An attractive book (if you disregard the fussy illustrations) with approachable and generally uncomplicated recipes. Some are old favourites, others more innovative. As well as the expected ‘meat and two veg’ and ‘fish and two friends’, there's also a lot of variety for vegetarians, including vegetable trios, salads, bakes.

A dish named ‘rice, saffron, tomatoes’ made the most of its three main elements, resulting in an unctuous saffron risotto scattered with sweet, garlicky roasted tomatoes – easy to prepare and impressive to look at.

A summery courgette, mangtout and lemon segment salad might have worked better as a four-element dish; switching one of the two lemons for an orange would have made it a lot less potent (as suggested in the ‘swaps’ section). Fearnley-Whittingstall's get-out clause on this front is that the book is only a starting point from which readers are encouraged to experiments.

Though the ‘three’ concept maybe doesn’t bear too close scrutiny, this is nonetheless an enjoyable cookery book. It’s filled with interesting ideas and the kind of down-to-earth family-friendly dishes that Fearnley-Whittingstall does best.

Celia Plender, Time Out London Issue 2194: September 6-12 2012

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