My Kind of Cooking - Mark Sargeant
Quercus - 2011
Photography: Emma Lee
The introduction of 'My Kind of Cooking' states Sargeant's attitude towards food, the buzz-words are "local" and "seasonal". This is backed up in the rest of the cookbook with familiar ingredients made lively with an international flavour added. Sargeant was aiming for a combination of classic, self-sufficient home cooking and simplified restaurant recipes.
The cookbook is well laid out making it easy to find the sort of recipe that you are looking for quickly, ideas are broken down into types of food from Seafood and Underground veg to Sweets. At the start of each section there is a paragraph of notes which are generally uninteresting and could easily be skipped if you want to get straight to the recipes themselves.
The photography is beautiful but rather stark and often not of the recipes themselves. There are some gorgeous images but of just one ingredient which makes it hard to know what you can expect from the final dish. They add a lovely extra element to the book but are not very useful.
Most of the recipes would be quite easy for non-chefs to put together and none of the ingredients are too hard to get a hold of, which is great. The Cheap Cuts section is my favourite and is really inventive pairing up some fantastic flavours that are very different. The two veggie sections were also good for side-dishes and there were three whole parts just for fishy dishes. On the other hand the Sweets section is disappointing but Sargeant admits that he's not much of a sweet tooth and the savouries section following afterwards more than makes up for it, it is a lovely idea and one I would really like to see more of. There is a nice balance between quick meals that could easily be made for an easy dinner and more complex dishes when you want to spend more time in the kitchen.
The writing is pretty average but not off-putting and doesn't take away from the book overall. The notes for each section could have been used to draw the cookbook together and without that constant voice it can feel rather fragmented as there are so many different types of ideas included. It would also have been nice to see some more alternative options with the recipes so that you could adapt them more easily.
My favourite recipes are the Slow Roast Onions, the Italian Rib of Veal , the Sweet and Sour Pork Cheeks and the Home Made Crumpets.
Overall a good, if very personal, cookbook with some nice inventive ideas that included a wide range of styles but would have been helped with better styled photography and a few more specific notes.