How I Cook

Don't worry! The 'I' in the title of this book is not yours truly, whose attempts to cook should happily be consigned to oblivion for all eternity, but a fellow Australian and very talented chef called Skye Gingell.

She is the woman responsible for the beautiful food at the equally beautiful Petersham Nurseries in London's Richmond Park - a place I love so much I took the day off last time my mum was over so I could take her to lunch there.

How I Cook is her third, most recent and – to the extent that I have had three or four delicious meals out of it – my favourite of her recipe books.

I was actually given the first – A Year In My Kitchen – by my husband’s aunt, who knows me well enough to guess that Petersham would be right up my street but not well enough to know that a recipe book to me is like the Karma Sutra to a eunuch: full of lovely pictures but of no practical use!

What I like more about How I Cook is not only are the recipes a bit more accessible, but so are the ingredients.

I appreciate that some dishes taste better with a type of marjoram that is only grown in a particular field in Lombardy, but it’s not always easy to get your hands on it at 6 o’clock on a Thursday evening with two kids demanding your attention.

So, whereas A Year In My Kitchen is full of dishes you might get on a visit to Petersham Nurseries, How I Cook is full of dishes you might get on a visit to the author's house and are therefore quite cookable even for time-pressed amateurs.

Particular favourites to date include a slow-cooked lamb with chickpeas and red pepper, a courgettes and mint dish, roast chicken with anchovy butter, and a really tasty ratatouille.

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