Today I was back on BBC Radio Derby talking about cookbooks and how certain celeb cookbooks can sit there untouched because the recipes can seem daunting. I know the amount of cookbooks here run in to triple figures. Some are husband’s, some I’ve brought, some have been given to me and some have been sent to me by publishers. I’m not the kind of person that the survey mentions who finds cookbooks daunting, if anything I find them a challenge. Come on I’m married to a man who has built a pizza oven and tandoor in the back garden out of junk. The hurdle of having to make a vacuum chamber so he can make Heston’s Black Forest Gateaux from In Search of Perfection is not going to faze him.
However I do understand how people can find recipe books daunting. There is a particular cookbook *cough* Jamie’s 30-min Dinners *cough* of which I find the recipes superb, but very difficult to follow. There is almost too much information in the recipe meaning that the most important information can easily be missed. Too often recipes for those who don’t have the confidence to cook are long-winded when they could be significantly shorter, or is it because certain cookery skills we take for granted are not common to everyone and need to be spelled out.
In interview I was also asked if technical terms can be confusing to the uninitiated and if you really needed to know these fancy words to cook well. At this point thank goodness it was radio. My face was a picture when asked if I knew what a ballotine was. I do but had a total mental block and all I could see in my head was a certain Dragon from the Den and yes I also forgot that chiffonade was relating to thinly cut flat herbs and vegetables and not related to fluffy chiffon cakes. I think I redeemed myself with the umami and cartouche explanation.
I would guess about 1/3 of the cookbooks I own have ‘celeb chefs’ as their authors. Some of these cookbooks are big favourites of mine. Nigella gets mixed press, but I do love her recipes as they always work for me and are down to earth. Mr Ramsay however… I was given about 4 of his books a few years ago and I don’t think I’ve cooked from any of them. Next time you’re near a charity shop look at the cookbooks. I would bet your bottom dollar there is an untouched cookbook there by Gordon Ramsay and most likely one by Ainsley Harriot.