While Ruby Tandoh may have risen to fame as runner-up on the Great British Bake Off, she's since made a name for herself encouraging a feel-good attitude to eating and cooking, inciting her fans to reject diet culture, fads and food snobbery
Her latest publication, Cook As You Are, eschews the usual goals of a recipe book – her introduction reveals that her recipes are not something to which readers should aspire: "We cook and eat as a way of travelling up or down in society… We try to cook ourselves better somehow." Accordingly, there are no photographs in the book, as "photos can give us something to aim for, or a standard to hold our cooking attempts up against to judge how well we've done".
Recipes are hugely accessible, covering dietary requirements, a guide to bottled, tinned and frozen food swaps, and advice for those with limited energy or mobility. Tandoh has also created an easy-read version of the book, which comprises 10 recipes with step-by-step photos and simple instructions, designed for an audience with certain learning disabilities.
Chapters are divided into ‘Feed me now', ‘More food, less work', ‘Hidden in plain sight', ‘Wild appetites', ‘Normal perfect moments' and ‘For the love of it', while a reference chart at the back labels which recipes are ‘low-prep', ‘super speedy' ‘hands-off' or ‘cheaper'.
The first two chapters are perfect for mid-week meals (I'll be trying out gnocchi with chilli crisp oil, capers and Parmesan), and although dishes in the final chapter, ‘Recipes to linger over', are more complicated, Tandoh's clear, easy-to-follow instructions are sure to make cooking a breeze – even for those attempting twaróg, a from-scratch farmer's cheese that fills the pierogi ruskie.
Recipes are interspersed with Tandoh's musings, which are both helpful and hilarious ("Much as I love him, I'm not sure I live under the same sun as Nigel Slater" made me laugh out loud). Cook As You Are is hugely refreshing and shares a love of food and cooking without lecturing.
Cook As You Are by Ruby Tandoh (Serpent's Tail, £19.99)
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