Hello bloggers, bakers and readers, I hope you’ve had a nice enjoyable and relaxing weekend. Last week DK Publishers contacted me and sent me a wonderful new book, ‘Mary Berry’s Cookery Course’ and I felt like a child on Christmas day when the postman arrived with a rather large brown envelope!
I had seen this book in the shop and was considering buying it, unfortunately though I was still waiting on my student loan to come through. When I was asked to review the book I was delighted, what good luck! It’s a huge, heavy and a beautifully put together book; comprised of many double-page spreads detailing the basic equipment for the kitchen, the types of food you will learn to cook (‘technique finder’) and a lovely welcome/introduction to the book for the very own Queen of Puddings herself. If you’d like to get a taste for the layout of the book, click here (+ a great recipe for apple pie!)
These were my favourite words:
This book is for all home cooks who want to perfect their skills and get the very best from their cooking; the modern cook has to balance the desire to make delicious meals with a busy life outside the kitchen. My advice to every home cook, no matter how experienced is to read through a recipe carefully a couple of times before you begin; keep it simple, follow the recipe, and you will be a star cook in no time!
Excited after flicking through the book, I decided I had to pick three recipes for a Friday night dinner for 2; it worked out perfectly as we finished uni for the week on Thursday and went on our shop, (with a skip in our step thanks to student finance…) As you read through each chapter, there is a double spread called, ‘Mary’s secrets to success’, and the first piece of advice she armed me with was:
When choosing a first course, look at your menu as a whole and provide a balance; it should stimulate the taste buds, keep the starters small and leave your guests wanting more.
Bearing this in mind, my choice of dinner was as follows:
Bruschetta with goats cheese and onion marmalade
Herb-crusted rack of lamb with vegetables
Meringues with fresh raspberry coulis
So, first course combined my love for melty warm goat’s cheese, sweet onions and a toasted slice of ciabatta; not the most conventional or traditional bruschetta, but I did enjoy the sweetness of the onion and the lack of profound, strong garlic aftertaste that is usually prevalent with traditional bruschetta. I don’t know if you’re wondering what exactly onion marmalade is, which you may be doing because I was a bit ‘huh?’ when I read it…surely it doesn’t have orange jam in it!!!! No no, it’s perfectly fine, no weird orange and onion mix; put simply, it’s a bit like a sweet onion relish/chutney that you’d buy in a wonderfully expensive jar in the supermarket. So, to students out there that enjoy a bit of fine food – make your own it’s much cheaper and you’re not skimping on the taste! 3 onions, light muscovado sugar, olive oil and balsamic vinegar – easy (and cheap).
Next up, main course, and this was something I was incredibly excited about cooking and eating. As far as the bank balance will go, it isn’t the cheapest thing you could have picked to cook but I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s nice for a treat. We bought our rack of lamb from Tesco at £17 per/kg, luckily though, ours was £9. You could probably get away with serving 3 people with it (2 cutlets each), and would be a great treat or for a celebration.We enjoyed ours with freshly cooked peas, carrots and green beans, avoiding carbs in this course because of the starter and our conscience but as Mary suggests, you could serve it with roast potatoes or potato dauphinoise for accompaniment. The herb crust was very easy to make, using breadcrumbs, fresh parsley, spring onions and mint; I was also taught how to prepare the lamb rack in terms of trimming off some of the fat and glazing with egg prior to spreading the crust on. The end result was a beautifully crisp exterior and medium, pink in the middle – perfection!
Lastly, time for pud! As you all know, I do have a sweet tooth, and baking is what I love to do most, so I had the task of choosing a dessert that wouldn’t be too rich, too naughty or too difficult to make (time constraints etc). I was incredibly pleased with my choice of meringues and fresh raspberry coulis as it finished the meal off nicely; the sharpness of the coulis livened up the palette with the sweetness and crispness of the meringue – was ‘scrummy’ as Mary would say! I have made meringues many a time, but I had never made a coulis before; I didn’t realise just how easy it was. I unfortunately lack a food processor with a metal blade and decided to just mash them (like you would when doing mash potato) and then press them through a fine meshed sieve to remove all the seeds leaving the wonderfully sharp juice. It’s a great alternative to an expensive pudding, gives you one of your five a day and is complemented by the fresh garden mint.
It’s the perfect companion both for students looking to polish up their techniques and those who just want to learn how to make tasty, much missed favourites such as roast chicken and apple pie, with Mary at their side every step of the way. DK are also running a 40% discount on all Mary Berry titles online, which would be perfect for any students looking to get a slice of Mary’s expert advice. The discount ends on the 31st of October though, so get in while the going’s good; this book usually retails at £25 and is currently selling for £15 + free delivery, bargain!
Thank you to DK Publishing for my review copy of ‘Mary Berry’s Cookery Class’.