Quick and easy cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best recipe books for simple, satisfying meals

Recipes to Know by Heart

Xanthe Clay

, Mitchell Beazley, £20

Buy this cookbook

There are hundreds of cookery books published in the UK each year, but very few of them actually tell readers how to conquer the fundamentals of cooking. This book is different. With an approach that is like a modern-day cross between Delia Smith and Mrs Beeton, author Xanthe Clay - cookery writer for the Saturday Telegraph – aims to set her readers free from the shackles of slavishly having to follow recipes without understanding the underlying principles.

There are recipes, of course – about 40 of them, including the likes of basic white sauce, white bread, batter pancakes, sweet and savoury pies, gratins, Sunday roasts, noodle soups, chocolate mousse and basic cakes, plus plenty of themes and variations.

It’s not just recipes though. Clay is a reliable teacher who ably explains the science of soufflés, or the proportions of flour, butter and sugar needed to make cakes, biscuits and crumble toppings. The idea is that, once you know a dozen or so common-sense recipes by heart ‘kitchen life will become immeasurably simpler’. It is precisely the sort of book that Delia used to write, before she disappointed us all by cheating.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 1989: October 2-8 2008

Buy this cookbook