I’ve been interested and dabbling in cooking adventures for a few years now. My parents are both avid cooks and always interested in tasting new recipes and flavours. Likewise, I’ve done my own fair share of reading recipes, cooking them or making it up as I go along (mostly this really).
For a long time I’ve wanted to fully focus on one chef’s cuisine, become better at following the recipes, learning about a particular style of cooking and subsequently learn to imitate it. Being flexible about ingredients in the kitchen is important to me — I always want to be able to whip something up quickly — but this requires a good foundational knowledge of what works. So what could be better than following the professionals and all of their recipes to learn to be more confident in being independent.
Specialised cookbooks for a particular set of dishes, say pasta, don’t lend themselves to cooking all the way through. I don’t think my housemates would be overly excited to have pasta dish #352 this year.
What I needed was a book of recipes with different key ingredients, simple enough to make throughout the year, even on workdays, and varied enough to keep everyone interested.
My friend Rose got me Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE for Christmas and it seems perfect! Every recipe in the book looks interesting in its own way, there’s a great variety of flavours, yet they all seem absolutely doable.
Like Ottolenghi says in the introduction: different people understand different things by the word “simple”. That said, I’m confident that even if some recipes may lend themselves more to bulk cooking and others feel a little too easy at times there will be plenty to learn about the variety of flavours that I can leverage in my cooking at home, even on normal weeknights which, after all, is the goal of the exercise.
I’m excited — let’s do this!