A Girl and her Pig

Recipes and Stories

Author: April Bloomfield

April Bloomfield is a British chef who, after working with many of the best in London (Rowley Leigh, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray), has managed to pull off the considerable feat of being chef and co-owner of three popular restaurants in New York, including the Michelin starred Spotted Pig.

First off, this is a good looking book which doesn’t have the glossy dust jacket that, in my kitchen, gets ripped sooner or later. My cookbook shelf is now not just prominent but it also fullconsequently any new book really has to earn its place.

Secondly, I do value a cooking book that is also a good read, and this one, subtitled Recipes and Stories, does not disappoint. It is full of fun and down to earth anecdotes from an upbringing in Birmingham and her early experiences in the industry. I particularly enjoyed the illustrations whose simplicity echoes the style of cooking and were also reminiscent of my first cookbook, the appropriately titled My Fun-to-Cook Book.  Hands up who remembers that one?

So now to the nitty gritty, is there anything I want to cook and how well do the recipes work? On a first flick through I found plenty of dishes I marked with scraps of paper (those marker ribbons a lot of books own now have become an essential) interestingly many of these were well known dishes but still new to my repertoire. Caesar Salad for instance, hardly original, but not something I had ever felt like cooking before.

April does give some precise instructions at the beginning of her book.  I found these to be useful and mostly charming, some people might find them unnecessarily bossy but they are easily ignored; and for the less experienced cook they are an education. Anyway, she has an opinion on, garlic, anchovies, croutons and salt, all of which are crucial to the Caesar, and maybe it is this attention to detail that makes this salad turn out quite so well.

Being part of/belonging to a great soup eating family I am always on the look out for good recipes. The Green Pea and Ham Soup is not dissimilar to one I have made before but the result was definitely superior, and I am looking forward to trying out several others from this section.

This book has a bit of everything. The meat section is wide ranging and, as you might expect in a book that has a recommendation from Fergus Henderson on the back as well as the front, it does not shy away from recommending some of the less well familiar cuts.  Unlike some books however this has an equally varied and useful vegetable chapter, which will help with the glut a vegetable patch invariably throws up.

I know I am not alone in approaching books from restaurant chefs with caution, having been burnt both metaphorically and literally, but this one has definitely earned its place on my shelf.  Now I just need to find the one I am dumping to make room for it.