20 May 2012

Pretty Perfect

Is cooking about being perfect? Baking aside, surely creativity and expression in the kitchen require a certain degree of improvisation and a dash of innovation. The concept of "Perfect" is to examine the recipes for classic dishes, consider the variations proffered by others and come up with a definitive version of the dish. This is useful because it strips away the pretentious flourishes of a chef with a brigade of helpers and hones in on the key ingredients and principles upon which the dish is based. You get a real feel for the thought process that has taken place during the dissection of each recipe and are clearly guided   as to where and how any developments can be made. Goodness knows how much it cost and how long it took to examine the recipes so thoroughly. The stories behind each recipe are engaging and the design of the book is classic with a modern quirky twist. There is enough for both the beginner and well established cook and for once it didn't matter that there was no photography, perhaps it just wasn't necessary because many of the dishes are such classics.

Dishes we enjoyed at supperclub were kedgeree, guacamole, coq au vin, flapjack and crumble. Other recipes road tested were hollandaise sauce- unusual method, roast chicken -lovely skin,  cottage pie and omelette. There is an excellent bibliography so that the original recipes can be found and some good advice to beginners about investing in a "bible" which I quite agree with, having been a cook for many years I still use a battered and falling apart inspection copy of Delia's basic cookery course and also the Leith's bible, mostly for larger catering projects. Felicity Cloake has also published a Perfect Christmas Day which has 15 essential recipes for Christmas (though I have to say I always go for Josceline Dimbleby's orange mince pie recipe personally) which I'm sure will be a great guide for those facing the festive food preparation for the first time. More ideas, advice and lovely food photography can be found at http://felicitycloake.com but don't beat yourself up if something goes wrong, nobody's perfect! 

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