Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Book of the moment: Faking It by Valli Little

The book I've chosen to cook from for the time being is Faking It by Valli Little. Valli is the food director of the ABC magazine Delicious and has been since 2001.

The subtitle of this book is how to cook delicious food without really trying and right from the welcome page she pushes this point. She is a cook that believes in taking quality shortcuts - buy a decent curry paste or chargrilled eggplants rather than make that yourself.

There are 249 pages + a glossary and an index at the back, as well as the welcome and contents at the front. The book is helpfully, and unhelpfully, broken up into sections. The sections like 'breakfast', 'soups', 'chicken' and 'beef' make total sense. But I don't really understand why 'eggs' is separate from 'breakfast' or why there are 3 fishy sections: 'salmon', 'fish' and 'seafood'. It's a little confusing!

My favourite thing about this book? The pictures of the final presentation of all the dishes (I think all the dishes are photographed). I don't love all the pictures, but I love that they are there. For example, I would never serve a hardboiled egg with only half the shell peeled off as is done in the 'quail eggs with walnut hummus and dukkah'.

I like photographs of how the end product is meant to look because then I have something to aim for. The next best thing is when there are photographs of some of the more complicated steps along the way.

The photographs make me want to cook/make most of these dishes. I say 'make' because this book is both a cook book and a 'how to put store bought ingredients together' book. Many of the recipes, particularly the appetiser ones, suggest you buy an ingredient another cookbook might explain how to make. In the recipe for roasted cherry tomate tarte tatins the ingredients include jars of roasted cherry tomatoes and sheets of frozen puff pastry.

There are a few 'cheffy' things in the book, like the chicken skewered onto sprigs of rosemary or serving a burger deconstructed to capture an image of the delicious looking mayonnaise.

Overall, it's a beautifully presented book. The images are big, and the food looks luscious and plentiful and I can't wait to cook from it.

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