Cupboard Love

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Cupboard Love: How to Get the Most Out of Your Kitchen (Hardback) By (author) Tom Norrington-DaviesIf you don’t have the time or culinary skills to follow in the footsteps of celebrity chefs but won’t be satisfied with ready meals that take just a few minutes in the microwave, Tom Norrington-Davies’ ‘Cupboard Love’ could be the ideal cookbook for you. The idea is to establish an up-to-date version of an old-fashioned larder in your kitchen. This may entail an initial outlay to build up a well-stocked cupboard, but once you have the basic ingredients you can produce a variety of home-made dishes with the addition of fresh produce in a short time and without too much fuss. It does of course mean that you are in control of the ingredients and can use olive oil or butter rather than hydrogenated fat, and pure sugar as opposed to dextrose or corn syrup.

The cover features bottles, jars and tins, some as familiar as Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, others more unusual – Gazi Feta or Green Lentils from Le Puy.

Following the introduction which sets out Norrington-Davies basic philosophy, the book is divided into chapters each focusing on a particular type of food such as pasta, stir-fries, soup, curry or afters.

All tastes are catered for here, whether you like traditional British, European or Eastern food. I was a little surprised by the inclusion of junk food, but Norrington-Davies says that while he hates burger bars, he adores junk food that can be eaten with hands. Of course home-made junk food does not have to be full of sugar, salt or fat as it often is in restaurants. This chapter includes kebabs and pizzas as well as burgers, but fish and chips are left out as they would require a deep-fat fryer and the idea is to keep gadgets to an absolute minimum. One of our favourites from this chapter is a pizza with cold toppings which are added to a base that has been baked just with the tomato sauce. Extra quick and ideal for summer.

The colour photographs can make even the simplest dishes such as Welsh rabbit or an omelette sandwich look genuinely appetising. I was impressed by the double-page spread of four pizzas, whose irregular shapes and variety of toppings look far more appealing than the offerings of Pizza Hut or Dominos. Yet the toppings are so simple: a fried egg, tomato and cheese, feta cheese and onion, ham, and plenty of greens on each one.

For those who do have time on their hands and want to minimize the use of ready-made foodstuffs, there are ‘DIY’ recipes for mayonnaise, sweetcorn relish, coconut milk and curry paste to name but a few.

Norrington-Davies wants to encourage us to avoid supermarkets as far as possible and shop instead at local delicatessens and specialist Eastern stores. This is fine if you live in London, Birmingham or Manchester I’m sure, but for me it would mean a seven or eight-mile journey. That does not seem to make a great deal of sense, so I will still have to rely on Waitrose for cardamom seeds and coriander leaves.

The font is clear and simple, and paragraphs and lists of ingredients are well spaced, making the text easy to read. No preparation or cooking times are given, so you would have to read through the recipe to gauge these, although they are kept to a minimum to suit our busy twenty-first century lifestyles.

This book certainly does have an original standpoint, and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have oodles of time but wants to be creative and know what is going into their food. Apparently we British use far more convenience foods than any of our European neighbours, and that is not something we can be proud of. So let’s have a better relationship with our kitchen and its cupboards.

‘Cupboard Love’ by Tom Norrington-Davies

Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 255 pages

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Cupboard Love
by Tom Norrington-Davies

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Written by frangliz