If I were to choose one book to recommend to you when starting off on your culinary adventure it would be Real Cooking by Nigel Slater. I was given this book back in 1997 before I ever went to cookery school. At that time cooking was a hobby for me and although I had started my collection of cookery books I usually only found one or two recipes in each one that appealed to me. Not so with Real Cooking, I think that I have cooked almost everything in this book and it’s the one I keep going back to.
Nigel Slater writes as though he’s your pal standing in your kitchen offering useful ideas and advice. Everything the home cook needs is here, from how to roast a chicken or leg of lamb to what to do with a couple of pork chops. He has a chapter dedicated to potatoes and another one for grains, pulses and beans. There is even a chapter on left-overs. His fish recipes are all quick and easy, often with an Asian slant, his Pan-fried Thai Fish is a weekly favourite in my house.
At this stage of my cooking career I have probably amassed a couple of hundred cookery books, including all of Nigel Slaters, but if I had to choose just one then it would be Real Cooking. My copy looks a sight with its dog ears, splattered, stuck together pages and notes in the margin but every time I open it it’s like an old friend entering the room, full of promise.