Perfect for feeding your family! Chapters cover soups, first courses, fish and shellfish, poultry and game, meat, pasta and rice, vegetables, salads and – yes – puddings and cakes.
But I chose this lovely 'Perfect' Spaghetti Carbonara recipe for a quick Monday night family meal.
Mary says: "By adding chestnut mushrooms and some streaky bacon, I've made this a more special pasta dish. Its' perfect for when you want to have a supper made and ready to eat in under half an hour."
OK, it ain't as complex as the offerings dealt up by Richard the Builder, who's favourite to win the GBBO Final next week, but us housedads struggle to knock out a cupcake let alone a 20-layered German batter cake.
Thankfully, this carbonara is about my level. Perfect!
350g dried spaghetti or linguine
150g unsmoked streaky bacon, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 garlic cloves, crush and chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
85g Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted, boiling water for about 8-9 mins, until just tender. Meanwhile, heat a large deep non-stick frying pan or sauté pan, add the bacon and dry over a low heat, until the fat starts to run. Pour in 1 tbsp of the oil, increase the heat, and fry for 3-5 mins, or until the bacon is crisp, stirring.
2. Pour the remaining 2 tbsp oil into the frying pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Fry over a medium heat for 3-4 mins until the mushrooms are golden. Take off the heat and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and most of the Parmesan (reserve 2 tbsp for sprinkling). Season with salt and pepper. When the pasta is almost done, return the frying pan to a low heat. Scoop out a ladleful of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta in a colander or large sieve.
4. Tip the pasta into the pan containing the bacon and mushrooms. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the eggs and cheese. Stir in the cream and 120ml of the reserved pasta cooking water.
5. Serve on warm plates, scatted with parsley and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
MARY'S KEYS TO PERFECTION:
1. Mix in the eggs and cheese quickly off the heat, so the warmth of the pan and the other ingredients cook the eggs enough to lightly set them and keep them smooth, without scrambling them. Use tongs to lift the pasta.
2. Pour in the double cream and enough pasta cooking water to make a sauce that will coat the pasta strands. The consistency should be creamy.
• By the way, some people dispute whether Mary's recipe is a 'proper' carbonara, as in Italy they are traditionally made with just egg yolks and pancetta – no cream or mushrooms. But when not in Rome, there's no imperative to do what the Romans do!