Following the huge success of The Great British Bake-off (a format TV3 hope to imitate soon with The Great Irish Bake-off ), Mary Berry’s star continues to rise among a whole new generation who were not born the first time she was famous. And, not surprisingly, the cookery books continue to be churned out to meet this new demand.
This, her latest book, written with the help of her assistant and collaborator of 22 years Lucy Young, sits just as comfortably among her other 70-odd cookbooks, this time focusing on 150 staple recipes that will not let you down while you are entertaining ‘at home’, so to speak. Divided into sections such as ‘first courses’, ‘the centre attraction’, ‘something on the side’, ‘something sweet’, ‘great eats to go with drinks’ and ‘time for tea’, the recipes are classic Mary Berry, her gentle but confident voice shining through as if she was sitting in front of you telling what to do and not to do. Ahead of each chapter there is a small introduction that offers added gems such as the sensibility of freezing pâtés; the flexibility of some dishes for either the oven or barbecue; the simplicity of blanching vegetables in preparation for entertaining the following day; and the importance of ‘cheat’s recipes’ when you are under pressure in the kitchen, making brandy snaps, for instance.
The best of the recipes include those for gravadlax; butternut squash and caramelised walnut salad; seared tuna with crunchy oriental salad and king prawns; duck terrine with orange confit; quick chicken curry; really posh cottage pie; spinach and three cheese bake; scrumpy beef casserole with parsley and horseradish dumplings; pan-seared salmon and vegetables with Thai dressing; sea bass with citrus salsa; butterflied lamb in lemon marinade; pappardelle with tomato and vodka sauce; chicken breasts with Madeira and tarragon sauce; the best cod and herb fishcakes; red pepper, mushroom and leek lasagne; quite the best fish bake; lamb paysanne and spinach stuffing; pheasant casserole with thyme and prunes; orange smoked gammon with orange and chilli salsa; roast fillet of herbed horseradish sauce; quick Cassoulet-style sausages and beans; raspberry jelly with yoghurt brûlée topping; almond Florentine dessert; chocolate obsession; and granny’s plum pie.
Overall, another fine cookery book of favourite appetising recipes from a cookery genius, and the perfect Mother’s Day present for mothers of all ages.