Alice Hart is a young woman who has achieved a lot for someone still in her twenties. Qualified chef and part owner of the esteemed Hart & Fuggle in London, she has also been the youngest editor so far at Waitrose Food Illustrated. Now Alice can add the release of a stunning cookbook to her list of achievements.
Alice’s tone is young and vibrant, yet authoritative. Her guidance on cooking for larger groups, menu plans and timing of dishes ‘hands on time’ helps take the stress out of cooking for friends, and I suspect for the relative ‘newbie’ to cooking would be a Godsend.
Alice seems acutely aware of seasonal cooking and making the most of local ingredients (without preaching), dividing the recipes into Frost and Fireside or Sunshine and Strawberries. Whenever you dip into the book – whether it be in January to find a New Year brunch, during August for a faded summer kitchen supper for friends, or in winter for ideas for a chic drinks party – you will find a selection of inspiring and memorable menus.
Recipes are eclectic and varied, ranging from Boursin Omelette Baguettes (Portable Breakfast for a Crowd), Campfire charred mackerel with red chicory and pomegranate (Summer Camping), Lemongrass pork bun bowls (Autumn Supper), to Toffee Pears with Flaked Almonds (Winter Film Night). All though sound delightful and perhaps most importantly, manageable even in a small apartment style kitchen – all too much of a rarity in many cookbooks whose authors seem to think we are all living in professionally kitted out mega kitchens. One recipe in particular has caught my eye, and no, surprisingly enough it isn’t the brownies (although they do sound amazing), it is the raspberry custard cake.
The book doesn’t contain all that many photos, something that may put off novice cooks as the notion seems to be that it gives them something to aim for in terms of the end result, but for me at least the lack of photos is no bad thing. Few and far between slots of photography leaves the imagination free to run with ideas and you’re not left comparing your plating up to a pro food stylists efforts in the book.
What of the photography there is? Well, it’s stunning. Simply done, my guess is with a tilt-shift lens but that is by the by, uncluttered and allowing the food to really speak for itself. And, with food that good you wouldn’t want to it be anything other than centre stage.
The book is printed on thick paper with a lovely sheen and encased in a ‘eco friendly’ feeling thick cardboard style jacket. The grey cover with sketch artwork with just a splash of colour down the spine gives a modern, contemporary feel without being achingly so.
This book is everything you could want from an everyday, every occasion cook book, but, after all Alice is cooking from the Hart (sorry, terrible pun but I couldn’t resist) and it shows.
With thanks to Quadrille Publishing for the review copy.
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Quadrille Publishing Ltd (2 July 2010)