Contributed by Lucy McDonald:
From Nigella licking her lips to Lisa Faulkner cooking with her young daughter, today’s recipe books seem as much about lifestyle as anything. You buy into the food, because you buy into the writer. My cookery book collection reflects this. Fay Ripley and Jamie Oliver dominate, so on the surface there didn’t seem much room for Aggie Mackenzie’s family cookbook in my library.
Although I have long been a fan of her knowledge on cleaning and household gadgets (she once gave me some good Sodastream advice on twitter!) at first I thought the fact that we are different ages and at different stages in our lives would mean the book wasn’t relevant to me. But it is excellent. The kind of recipes that you wish your mum had written down for you and most importantly, the half a dozen or so I tried, worked very well.
My favourite was the roast chicken. A family staple, I cook it at least once a week as part of a full roast dinner, with rice and peas or to use in sandwiches and salads. Here it is cooked on top of chopped tomato, celery, carrot and onions. The vegetables give the meat a lovely flavour and saves the need for making a separate gravy. Bonus!
Her banana bread was also good, although I substituted the walnuts with chocolate (banana bread without chocolate is a culinary crime in my house). It was easy to cook with my 4yo before school one morning, and it lasted us a good few breakfasts. The pulled pork with sweet potatoes was a different take on a dish I often cook anyway. It was elevated by a mango and chilli salsa, that would also work well with chicken or fish.
There is a good section on cooking for teenagers (chicken burritos with flatbreads), recipes from the larder (Puttenesca) and of course a good cleaning section, which inspired me to buy a microfibre mop (you can put the head bit in the dishwasher) and to throw a cup of vinegar in the dishwasher and run it on empty to give it a clean.
I wasn’t mad on the layout at times – having breakfasts at the back, seemed counter-intuitive, but my favourite part of the book was the bits and pieces section for recipes that didn’t quite fit in anywhere else. For example, homemade elderflower cordial looked good and I will definitely try it when the flowers come into bloom next month (look out for bushes of white flowers in parks and commons across London from about June).
So all in all, the book surprised. I use it not only for reference but recipes too.
Published by Pavilion £20
Lucy who lives in Chiswick with her husband and children publishes the scrumptious blog Crumbs with her sister. The site delivers tried and tested recipes for you to feed your family.