I mentioned in a previous review that my mother uncovered a stack or previously misplaced Christmas presents intended for Christmas 2018 and/or 2019. This stack comprised of about 5-6 cookbooks. Here now are my thoughts on the second book in the pile, Mary Berry: Foolproof Cooking. Going by the price sticker, this appears to have been on a clearance shelf like book 1 that I didn’t love, but this one deserves that a bit less. Basically, I might actually try some of these recipes.
The book is set up in 10 food sections, divided according to general type such as “Sharing Platters & Nibbles”, Bread-Soup-Starter, fish, poultry, red meat, pasta-rice, salad and veggie, dessert, pie-tart, and cake-biscuit. There’s also an introduction and a conclusion about general kitchen set up and preparation “The Foolproof Kitchen”. Unlike with book 1, there’s only one ingredient required once that I had to look up; ‘samphire’ is apparently another name for “sea beans” (and I only know this one thanks to Food Network being my typical background noise), not that this does me any good, since I wouldn’t be able to find that within 100 miles of where I live.
Recipes in book overall are mostly straightforward and generally inclined towards the not terribly out there, such as “Bubble and Squeak Potato Cakes” or “Hot Turkey and Avocado Bake”, yet they still manage to sound somewhat interesting, like putting avocado in hot-dish (casserole to those of you not from the American Midwest). Some recipes seem a little too basic, like “Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Stacks”. Essentially, this is the recipe (the title that is); cube and layer the first two with a leaf of the third on top, skewer with toothpick, squirt with lime juice.
Even the dessert chapters are pretty do-able, although I do with there was a spot for equipment in the listing of items needed; putting that in the recipe narrative just feels like getting ready, finding out you’re not, and having to do more prep before being actually ready to start. Even then though, it’s pretty do-able, such as “Latte Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Brittle” which sounds fancy and kind of is, but is still within my wheelhouse, or would be if I had 8 ramkeins. There’s a version of what personally would call upgraded rice krispy treats, and something Mary calls “Bonfire Chocolate Traybake” (just call them ‘brownies’ Mary, that’s what they are), and more GBBO level things like Apple Frangipane Tart (even this isn’t that fiddly) or Mango, Lemon, and Lime Mousse- again, do-able, although I’ve no idea what exactly “luxury lemon curd’ is; I mean, I know lemon curd (I can even make it), but what makes it ‘luxury’?
Each section also comes with a two-page segment somewhere with that covers general tricks and tips for dealing with items of the general category called “Foolproof <whatever>”. In the pasta and rice one, you get things like don’t use a spoon to stir long grain rice; use a fork to prevent breaking grains which causes them to stick (broken = sticky) or do undercook pasta that is getting baked since baking = more cooking. Most of these bits are standard cooking knowledge, but I found that there was usually one or two “I’ll have to try that next time”s in each one.