A current theme of many recipe books out at the moment is thrift, with recipes that use the cheapest cuts of meat, sustainable (and therefore usually cheaper) fish and lots of vegetables. One thing that does still bother me about cook books, however, is a lack of concern for using up the whole packet of ingredients. For example: I am usually cooking supper for just myself and as much as I am all for cooking enough for several meals, sometimes I just don’t want to be eating chili for a week. I am frequently adjusting recipes to be suitable for one person and it often leaves me with leftover ingredients, such as half a squash. So in my eagerness to try a new squash recipe, I in fact have to find two squash recipes, which not a lot of cook books do.
As I have been working in a book shop for the last few years it has given me the opportunity to peruse rather a lot of different styles of cookery books and in that time I have got a list of things I look for when buying a recipe book.
I like all the recipe on one page or if it has to be two, the pages that face each other. Turning the page halfway through is a nightmare (mucky fingers = sticky pages) and I like to be able to see quite clearly what I need to do next.
Pictures. I am a sucker for pretty pictures. I need to know what it is supposed to look like at the end, especially if I’ve never cooked it before, I need to know how much I’ve missed the mark by…
Ideas for variety. Including a list of things you could use instead of the main ingredients to change it up a bit makes life easier if your main form of cooking originates with throwing whatever you have in the fridge into supper.
AND finally, several recipes throughout the book that use up tricky or expensive purchases, or just the ones you don’t need all of in one serving. Like squash.
My favourite cook book of all time is River Cottage Veg Book. It is full of exciting and tasty offerings that need very little skill to chuck together, and (as an avid meat eater I used to be reluctant to admit this) we should most definitely be eating more vegetables to save the planet and all that jazz. So I shall be endeavoring to give you a whole range of ideas for one or two choice ingredients over the following posts so that, if like me you are a dinner for one type of person (cue the tiny violin), you can use more of what you buy and aim for thrift AND taste in one shot.