A Cook's Year In A Welsh Farmhouse - Elisabeth Luard
Bloomsbury - 2011
Photography: Clare Richardson
'A Cook's Year In A Welsh Farmhouse' starts with a very long and rambling introduction which is only vaguely connected to food or Luard's way of cooking. It is more of an auto-biography which did not connect enough to the following recipes enough for me. I usually like having personal writing within cookbooks but here I didn't enjoy either the style of writing or the content. The introduction sets up a food style of a combination of Mediterranean and Welsh cookery which had me very interested as both are fantastic food cultures.
The font is clear and there is a good separation between the ingredients and the body of the recipe which makes it easy to read. The book is laid out according to months which works well for this style of homely cooking.
The recipes are excellent on the whole but there is far too much memoir writing in between. The long notes that start off each section are too personal to be of much interest to most readers, however the specific recipe notes at the top of each page are usually interesting and useful. The photographs and styling match the farmhouse cooking philosophy perfectly and look appealing without ever looking too daunting to make.
On the whole the balance of meat and vegetable recipes works very well with a nice combination making it easy to plan whole meals from the book. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow through without being overly complicated. You would not need to be especially experienced to use this cookbook. I greatly preferred the savoury recipes to the sweet, quite a few of the pudding recipes were rather odd flavour combinations and there were too many desserts that were really very simple, the savoury ideas were much more innovative. Luard has a good mixture of easy and comforting every-day recipes and fancier dishes that you would cook for special occasions although they are not always evenly split across the months - March for example is a very soup-heavy month while November has mostly entertaining style dishes that would take much longer to prepare.
My favourite recipes were the Venison Goulash, the Leek and Potato Gratin, the Fennel braised with Cider and Honey and the Slow-roast Pheasant with Apples and Chestnuts.
There were lots of recipes that I loved in this beautifully designed cookbook but I would prefer to have more of the recipes and their photographs rather than all of the lifestyle writing and pictures as well.
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