In his first cookbook, former food columnist for the Sunday Times Lucas Hollweg celebrates straightforward, accessible ideas for people who love to eat well. He’s as good with emotive words as he is with inspirational recipes – enticing even kitchen virgins to put on a pinny. Cooking from the heart, simple dishes are a tempting tease of modern British flavours, Mediterranean sumptuousness and seasonal splendour.
Recipes are gathered under ‘favourite food’ headers and include draws such as summer salads, things on toast, chops, spaghetti, roasts and risottos. We’re talking family-friendly platters, sharing dishes for friends and sticky fingers. There’s not a puff of fancy foam, streak of decorative sauce or hint of truffle oil.
I’ve cooked more than a dozen recipes from the book with resounding success. Pages with the most smudges include magnificent pork chops, sauced with a quick reduction of chicken stock, wine and cream, then tastefully spiked with the bite of Dijon mustard and capers.
Equally satisfying, aubergine gratin topped with courgette ribbons has robust summer flavours stamped all over it. The loveliness of auburn-hued butternut and chickpea stew flecked with wilted spinach does Morocco proud with its seasoning of saffron, nutty cumin, sweet cinnamon and sun-kissed orange – a trouble-free, one-pot main course.
Among other stars – beetroot risotto, mustardy beef salad and quivering vanilla creams – is a heroic sponge. It takes 15 minutes to put together a gorgeous apple and sultana cake mix for the oven. Hollweg reminds us that unfussy cooking should always have pride of place in the kitchen.
Roopa Gulati, Time Out London issue 2131: June 23-29 2011