Celebrity chef cookbooks

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

At Elizabeth David's Table

Edited by Jill Norman, Michael Joseph, £25

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Elizabeth David changed the way Britons think – and write – about food. Her food-writing career began during the greyest depths of post-war Britain with its years of rationing, bringing a ray of Mediterranean sunlight into our kitchens with her French, Italian and Greek-inflected recipes.

At the same time, she brought glamour and enormous skill to the discipline of food-writing, which BD (Before David) was often primarily concerned with the mundane, joyless tasks of home economics and housewifery. David brought the possibility of joy to the British dining table.

David’s career officially began in 1950 with the publication of ‘Mediterranean Food’. So immeasurably has publishing changed in 60 years that it’s difficult to believe that, until now, none of her many books have contained colour photographs of the dishes.

This collection of the late author’s work has been compiled by David’s long-time editor Jill Norman, and cherry-picks some of David’s best known recipes, with an emphasis on French and Italian dishes.

There are chapters on starters and light dishes, eggs, pasta, rice, fish, meat, poultry, sauces and sweets (many with suitably gorgeous photographs from David Loftus), including timeless and perennially appealing recipes such as pork cooked in milk, chicken with tarragon, and grilled red mullet with aioli and sauce rouille, along with slightly retro dishes such as tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce, pears baked in red wine, and chocolate mousse.

Reading Elizabeth David has always been about words, though, not just pictures and recipes. Because it’s a collection this book doesn’t have as strong a sense of place as her previous works, but in the chapter headings and recipe intros – and the cooking – the strong, evocative voice of David nonetheless shines through.

Susan Low, Time Out London issue 2101: November 25-December 1 2010

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