So fair warning, this is a cookbook review but I have little intention of trying many of the recipes. As I was posting my notes on Goodreads, I glanced at the top review listed, and the reviewer made a point I absolutely agree with; to paraphrase, the title Mary Berry Everyday was slightly misleading in that quite a few of the recipes aren’t exactly everyday by a lot of contemporary standards, at least as defined by me.
I’ve tried a lot of Mary Berry baking recipes, but never really looked at her general cooking books which I know she’s got quite a few of. So when my mother found a previously lost stash of Christmas presents (a stack of cookbooks), I now had the opportunity to see about the cooking side of the former GBBO judge. There’s this weird sense of unbalance in this book; some recipes are more everyday and even include premade bits, but others involved slightly unusual ingredients or a lot of scratch-made components (scratch-made blini is not everyday, at least not to me) and Mary has seemed unfamiliar with certain international items when contestants of GBBO have used them but then goes ahead and uses related things here; like, how do you know harissa but not ras el hanout? I get that since this was a 2017 book, and she’s probably learned a lot of this stuff since the early seasons of GBBO, but still it felt a little strange.
The content and general tone of this book is not surprisingly incredibly British, and there’s some expected things in here like fish and chips, but there’s also a lot of what I presume is pre-sliced smoked salmon, marinated herring, and potato-leek-cheese pie (this one I might actually try). Not that these things aren’t British, they are, especially in things like tea time savory snack bites but they end up seeming pretty similar since there’s so much of them scattered about. The thing for me is that it’s all basically cold fishy bits with a lot of creamy sauces or binders, and that’s not my style at all.
One thing that did surprise me a little was that I was expected to know what petit pois is (specific type of pea) or to know exactly what pudding rice is; not that I can’t ask Google (clearly I did that for the peas), and I suspect pudding rice basically means something suitable for rice pudding, but like I said earlier, to have this kind of thing in the same book as chicken stir fry with teriyaki or herbed quinoa and bulgar wheat salad with lemon and pomegranate (familiar recipe types and with totally well known ingredients) just seems to be a little off-balance. The other thing that got to me a little was that there were no equipment lists; instead items were noted in the instructions. This set up annoys me because it’s less user friendly, especially if you’re not the original intended user (this book was obviously written with a UK audience in mind; you can tell from the spelling, ingredients, vocabulary, etc). I’ve been to the UK a lot, and even lived there briefly, but a lot of the recipes rely on things I don’t especially like, recognize, and/or don’t want to make more than a single serving of. As I suggested at the beginning, for me, this is more a cookbook for reading interest, not so much for use in the kitchen.
There are two sections that appeal especially to me personally: the vegetarian and the baking/dessert parts, both towards the end. The ingredients and procedures are mostly familiar to me, and no weird equipment or Amazon orders would be necessary. I think I’ll be starting with the cheese pie mentioned above and maybe the Ginger and Mango Spiced Muffins. I might also have to see how Mary’s choux recipe compares with Paul Hollywood’s, since I’ve already tried one of his. My only concern is that even the more veggie forward mains are pretty heavy with the cream or the cheese; this is not a book to use if you’re trying to eat healthy, not even a little.