4th Estate, £26Buy this book
Nigel Slater has long excelled at sensual food writing and recipes for quick dishes. His first bestseller, 20 years ago, was a slim, modest paperback called 'Real Fast Food ', which topped the charts despite having no food photography and no hype. Partly because of the success of this and his other early books (for publisher Michael Joseph), Slater became the Observer's food columnist, where he's been for two decades. His more recent books, such as 'The Kitchen Diaries ' and 'Tender ' series (published by 4th Estate), are more lavishly produced.
'Eat', a cloth-bound collection of 'over 500 ideas for dinner', marks a return to the simpler style of his earliest books. Recipes are brief (some, says Slater, started out as tweets), with short lists of ingredients and accompanied by small photographs. The recipes and editing are unusually hit or miss. Some of the four recipes I made left me puzzling. A dish of ‘potatoes with hazelnuts and egg’ used only the yolks, wastefully setting aside the whites. Better was ‘roasted beetroot and tomato spelt’ (found on page 73, not on page 7 as the index states), one of many unusual vegan options. The best dish I tried, ‘vegetables with couscous and harissa’, demonstrates the strength of the book – the dishes really are easy to make. Despite what appears to be hasty assembly, this is still real fast food, given a makeover for 2013.