Friday, 23 April 2010

A Book Review

Cooking Ingredients by Christine Ingram

A practical guide to choosing and using world foods

When I bought this book I thought "this might be a handy reference guide for my blog". Having now read it from cover to cover I can't think what I did without it.  It has become the star of my cookbook collection.

This beautifully illustrated encyclopaedia of ingredients covers everything from everyday foods to the more exotic ingredients that are now readily available.  There is even a guide to cookware and electrical equipment.

Each entry contains a detailed description of the varieties, appearance, flavour and aroma of the ingredient and offers essential advice on preparation and uses.  There is also illustrated step by step instruction for techniques.

The cheese section is unbelievable, 78 pages long and covers cheeses from all over the world including 40 British cheeses.  There is information on region, origin, colour, taste, culinary uses and whether it is suitable for vegetarians.  It made me want to order a lorry load of crackers and break open the chutney.

Eggs, dairy products and fats  This section includes eggs, milk, cream, yoghurt, butter and margarine, with recipes for pastry, home-made yoghurt and making flavoured butters.
Fish and shellfish  A comprehensive guide to exotic fish, oily fish, deep sea game fish and many more.  Illustrated instruction for everything from preparing monk fish to boning a kipper.  The shellfish section has 20 pages of crustaceans, molluscs, cephalopods (squid octopus and cuttle fish) and other edible sea creatures.

Other chapters include:
Meat poultry and game
Beans, lentils, peas and grains
Pasta, noodles and wrappers
Fruit, nuts and seeds
Herbs and spices
Condiments, flavourings and oils
Tea, coffee, chocolate and sweeteners

The colour photographs are what makes this book so compelling, it's so much nicer to see both familiar and unfamiliar ingredients than just reading about them.  I would give this book 10/10

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