Cookbooks have rapidly become my novels of choice, in fact they lie beside the bed as often as they sit on the kitchen shelf. I love a cookbook that tells a story, that lets you enter the mind and indeed the world of the writer, where you can feel what they are cooking and why, understanding it long before you ever attempt a recipe yourself. This is the feeling I get when reading Kitchin Suppers, the latest book from Tom Kitchin. It takes you into the Kitchin home and invites you to watch and learn, regaling of tales about learning recipes from Mum, coming up with time-saving versions of classics and of a desire to resurrect old techniques to let the flavour of the produce stand on its own. In fact when I think of Tom Kitchin it is that one word that constantly springs to mind, when on an episode of Masterchef he said ‘that’s what it’s all about, flavour, flavour, flavour’. It struck a chord with me, what else is food about if not flavour? And it is flavour that each page in this beautifully presented book is filled with.
The format is the tried and trusted chapters of different cooking styles and days of the week. One-pan wonders is a great little starting chapter, especially as for me it’s the one thing that I frequently find myself getting chastised about, the level of washing up. None of that here as fish tray bake with fennel and lemon or smoked salmon, pea and red onion frittata are demonstrated in one pan. Sophisticated and flavoursome but simple recipes are delivered with an emphasis on seasonality and location, encouraging experimentation depending on what time of year it is and where you are.
My favourite chapter is Saturday Suppers, for a number of reasons. Saturday is my day with the girls and cooking something special for MrsT coming home is how we like to spend the afternoon, together in the kitchen teaching them about that word again. Flavour. Also it is filled with classical recipes such as herb crusted cod, roasted partridge, beef wellington and salt baked fish. Each of which puts the produce first and then delivers further techniques and ingredients to showcase it. I think this is the very essence of home-cooking and this chapter sums the book up perfectly. I can’t wait to try the hay cooked saddle of lamb, a technique I never thought I’d be capable of demystified.
Easy starters, Breads & savoury nibbles and Simple desserts add to the full spectrum of cooking whether it be for entertaining, feeding the family or a quick meal for one. None of the recipes have anything in them that I would class as scary or extravagant, I find them very accessible as they are based around good seasonal produce combined with store cupboard ingredients.
This is a book that I can see becoming dog-eared, sauce splattered and well used over the coming months and years as I tick so many of the recipes off the ‘must try’ list. It is full of inspiration, interesting anecdotes and a myriad of visual style advice and in fact the only real question I have unanswered is where can I find the wonderful medieval Scots utensils that decorate so many pages.