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I Do the Speed Limit
- Publié sur Amazon.com
There is something very special about Slater's books. They are as much creative non-fiction masterpieces as they are compilations of easy-to-put-together recipes. He combines playful and insightful impromptu with his vast cooking experience to create dishes that will delight you. Sometimes his combinations are almost whimsical and amusing, sometimes so very simple and tasteful that they are masterful. Sometimes they are a marvel in basics. If you are a cook, looking for a serene and peaceful, thoughtful read, complete with wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures, this is a book you should pick up.
Slater does not cook for a large family, not even a small family. He cooks for one or two. He does cook for friends. I didn't really think about how that affects the tone of a cookbook until recently, when I went from reading this book to one written by a woman--possibly about the same age--who had a large and loving family for whom to cook. I realized these two different family situations resulted in a totally different tone and attitude in a cookbook. That's not to say that if you cook for many, you won't get anything out of this book. You will--no matter how large an audience you have. There will always be a need for the type of dish that Slater creates. If, because of your lifestyle and your responsibilities, you are a busy, no-nonsense, hurry-up-and-get-something-nourishing-on-the-table type of cook, you will find help in this book. You will even find some respite from the frantic activity.
But if you need to find recipe instructions and ingredient lists very quickly and at a glance, well, then, maybe this book is not for you. Or, maybe it is, most definitely, just what you need. Be aware that you will need to read through tips, interesting tidbits of information, descriptions of how a fish glistens or figs drop and stain the flagstone, the state of the weather and stories about the author's house renovations, the status of his garden and his vacations--just to get to the recipe's ingredient list.
In other words, when you are in the right frame of mind, this book is a wonderful experience: Helpful, thought-provoking; stirring your creative juices and tingling your intuition. Not in the right frame of mind though, you might be irritated by a fish recipe, followed by a plum tart, followed by a simple stir-fry, only because that is what the author happened to cook that week: Because he passed by the fish market, or because his neighbor's plum tree was exploding with ripe fruit, or because he worked all day and needed quick, easy sustenance from what was handy in the frig and on the shelf.
His other fairly recent books, Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch and Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard, are written in the same style: Great story-telling, beautiful creative non-fiction writing and pictures worth studying; and wouldn't you know it, there are hundreds of recipes in there, too! The predecessor to this book is The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater.
As you can tell from the above paragraphs, I highly recommend this book. If you are still undecided--and if you have time to read more--I have gone into more detail below and I've listed some recipes, too:
It seems these recipes were born of opportunity: A lot of them were created from what was in the larder at the time and from the food he "happens upon" as he moves through his day. (And that is how I cook, so obviously I like his style.) Slater finds inspiration by walking through his garden, through his favorite shops and farmer's market, checking out what's left in his pantry and on his shelves, and gazing at leftovers in the frig. So, he creates a recipe to fit what he has "in the larder", then he writes down--on whatever piece of paper is handy--his recipe and his thoughts at the time and he dates it. For this book, he took his notes from a three-year period of time and compiled them by calendar date, not year. He ended up with a recipe and a story for almost every day of the year, plus he was able to fine tune some of those recipes over three-year's time and was able to pick and choose (probably) which notes from which year told the best story.
There is so much information in this book, and so many different types of recipes, that it's hard to give recipe examples that are representative. It really is a mixed bag. I can say that--even though this publication is written for an American audience--the type/style of recipes and ingredient lists still retain their British flair. (You won't find hamburgers, bratwurst, steaks and chicken on the grill, Italian/American dishes, etc.) You won't find white rice, a lot of pasta recipes, heavy-handed cheese layers. Because Slater is health-conscious, you will find brown basmati rice, a decent amount of grains, and fresh veggies and fruit in season. You will have to take into consideration that London's seasons may not mimic your own. (His zucchini overflows in August and September, mine (in Texas) overflows in June.) And, when I run across the name of an ingredient with which I am unfamiliar, I go to a UK website and ask.
Let me sum up with a mention of some of my favorite recipes from this book. (But, actually, some of the best ideas come from the very simple dishes he throws together on a moment's notice and scatters throughout his prose--there are no ingredient lists for those, and you can't really call them "recipes".):
--Marmalade chocolate chip ice cream;
--A risotto of smoked cod and spinach;
--A can of butter beans with mustard, crushed tomato, hot peppers, molasses and herbs;
--Pork and mushrooms, hot peppers, garlic and oyster sauce;
--Bulgur and bacon, with onions, mushrooms, dill and parsley;
--A stir-fry of spring greens, mushrooms and hot peppers, with ginger, soy and cilantro;
--A salad of radishes, scallions, fennel, lemon, mint, capers and sprouts;
--Ricotta, green onion and cilantro omelets;
--Mint and raspberry sugar for strawberries;
--Tuna, pickled ginger and cucumber salad;
--Sole, simply fried in a bit of oil and topped with lime butter;
--Slow-cooked oxtail with five-spice powder and tamarind;
--Tomatoes, onions and bell peppers in coconut cream with ginger, hot peppers, mustard and turmeric;
--Orzo with zucchini and Grana Padano;
--Pork rib ragout with pappardelle;
--Pork rillettes made with pork belly; (I make mine with domestic duck, and I never thought about using pork belly, but it makes perfect sense.)
--Salmon soup with cauliflower, rutabaga, potatoes, tomatoes and cream;
**I received a temporary download of this cookbook from the publisher, through NetGalley. I have been scrutinizing it and working with it for several months. I've got to give up the download now, and buy my own copy!