Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Cookbook Challenge - Revisited

Some of you might remember my very ambitious attempt at cooking a recipe from each of the cookbooks in my rather large collection at the end of last year. I got off to a good start but after only two weeks, it all fell apart. Several things got in the way of my grand plan, not least a very chaotic and sudden house move. I do however think that the main reason this plan never got out of the starting blocks is the simple fact that I had labelled it as a challenge. For me cooking is something that I do to relax, to clear my mind. Turning cooking into something with deadlines, strict constraints and making it even in the slightest way stressful was never going to work for me.

Since I had my original idea (and took the above picture), my cookbook collection has unbelievably grown. Each time I acquired a new book, I had a very niggly and guilty feeling about all of the cookbooks already sitting on my shelf, unused. So, this week I decided it's time to do something about this, to revisit the challenge and make it work for me.

I started off by looking what I had in the house, rather than looking at which cookbook caught my attention. As always, eggs, butter and cream was to be found, but also a large chunk of cooked ham joint was waiting to be of use. Without even having to think about it, I knew which book will be best to re-start this journey, and that is this tomb of wisdom from Leiths School of Food and Wine.

I bought my Baking Bible many years ago, it was in fact one of the very first cookery books that I had bought for myself. It's also probably my most used book as it holds over 600 pages of the most reliable baking recipes you are ever likely to come across.

It's not the most exciting book to look at, mostly it's just page after page of tiny black print, but it covers everything you need to know about baking and then some. It has more hints, tips and professional tricks than you'll ever be able to remember and explains everything from the basics up to the very advanced. There are a few glossy pictures spotted about the book though.

Again, these pictures are mostly to help you understand the techniques explained in the book and to act as a visual guide for the more tricky stages of a recipe.

Over the years of owning this book, I have only ever used it to bake sweet things. There are some truly delicious and impressive cakes and bakes on these pages, but there is also a wealth of savoury dishes to be found throughout the many chapters. With the ingredients I had to hand, there was a very obvious choice for me to turn to, a classic quiche.

My finished quiche may not look as professional and polished as the authors of the book would have liked it to, but the proof is in the eating, and there I came out a winner. Best of all, I got going again on something that I have been wanting to do for months now, and hopefully this is the start of many more cookbook posts to come :)

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