The Caterer

Book review: Scook: The Complete Cookery Course

22 May 2015
Book review: Scook: The Complete Cookery Course

By Anne-Sophie Pic

Jacqui Small, £45

For such an established, high-end chef, Anne-Sophie Pic's latest book is something of a surprise. Yes, its weight and size command attention, but its bright colours, whimsical fonts and home-style setting seem more akin to the first, excited book of a TV chef, rather than one of many from a confident, three-Michelin-starred heavyweight with restaurants across France and New York and a Parisian cookery school (after which the book is named).

Simply translated from the original French, it is well laid out with short, step-by-step guides to methods such as peeling and dicing tomatoes, baking brioche, making pommes dauphines and even preparing sweetbreads.

The contents are split between Entertaining, Everyday, Classics, Homemade and For Children, with sub-categories such as Bistrot Classics, Lunch With the Girls, the Picnic, and Fast but Good Food. And herein lies its strength - it is adaptable and varied, with dishes certain to provide inspiration for a wide range of occasions. Recipes include everything from a soft-boiled egg and ratatouille to more complicated creations, such as mushroom-stuffed squid, monkfish terrine with prawns and saffron, pike quenelles and drôme caillette turnovers.

There are also references to Pic's childhood, with recipes including her grandmother's brioche with chocolate hazelnut spread, Nathan's favourite fruits, Lyonnaise Mardi Gras doughnuts and pain perdu with strawberry jam.

Each recipe is illustrated with a sumptuous, high-colour photograph where the food is carefully presented, but just dishevelled enough to look inviting. In short, everything looks utterly delicious.

With dishes bordering on the complex, this isn't for a chef looking to cut corners - it is a tome for anyone seeking solid French cooking, reimagined in a playful, cheerful and excellent manner.

By Hannah Thompson

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