Weekends are all too often over in a flash, usually crammed with visits to see family and friends, catching up on dull chores, shopping, out for celebratory meals…occasionally, just occasionally, there’s one blissful day when there’s time for a little self-indulgence and kitchen therapy. This was one such day.
It started, as all perfect days should, with a lie in followed by a lazy brunch; perfectly poached eggs, ham, muffins and perfect hollandaise combined to make a dreamy eggs Benedict.
A brisk walk in the wintry sunshine set us up for a hearty Sunday dinner. Perfect roast chicken, roast potatoes and gravy with plenty of veg preceded a perfect rhubarb and apple crumble. The day ended, after stripping off the rest of the meat from the chicken carcass, making the perfect stock ready for a soothing broth in the week ahead.
That week we also dined on perfect omelettes, cottage pie, kedgeree, coq au vin, guacamole and flapjacks.
The simple meals in life, done well, are comforting and hard to beat. A number of the recipes in Felicity Cloake’s Perfect may be simple, every day dishes and perhaps well-established in your culinary repertoire but I’d like to make the case that her book isn’t, as you might think from the dishes I made, just for beginners but also for keen and competent cooks who are willing to look at ways to improve on their results or understand why the way they’ve always been doing it is the right way.
Felicity has trawled through recipe book after recipe book and thoroughly researched each and every dish in her book. She’s tested umpteen different versions of the same dish, pitting many a chef against a host of cookery writers, to discover how different preparation techniques and ingredients affect the end result and, most importantly, where recipes work or fail. From that she determines what makes the perfect dish and provides us with her ultimate recipe.
OK, so perfection is subjective and not all the dishes we tried from the book met completely with my idea of perfect (after all, I’ve spent quite some time aiming for perfection myself with a number of the same dishes) but having said that we thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate, all the recipes were successful and a doddle to follow.
Felicity’s straight-talking style makes this book easy and enjoyable to read. It’s well-written and thoughtful and I very much envy her for being able to spend so much time reading cookery books, delving into the history and origins of food, testing recipes, writing and eating!
If you’re still not sure then check out Felicity’s column in the Guardian where some of the recipes featured in the book and many more can be found. Just for the sheer amount of washing up she must do this lady deserves our support by buying the book!