What’s the USP? A collection of straightforward, mostly French recipes inspired by both the rustic country cooking of the author’s late mother and the simple recipes in Edouard de Pomaine’s classic 1930 book Cooking in 10 Minutes.
Who’s the author? A pioneer of the UK’s fine dining scene Raymond Blanc has trained and inspired many of the country’s leading chefs including Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White. His beaming smile first adorned a cookery book back in 1988 with the publication of Recipes from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. Thirty-three years later, Blanc is still smiling on the cover of his thirteenth cookery book, still running the two Michelin-starred Le Manoir and still cooking chicken with morels and Jura wine sauce from his native Franche-Comté, a version of which appears in both his first and latest book.
Is it good bedtime reading? A ten page introduction and decent length recipe introductions are supplemented by a series of short essays entitled ‘My Love For’ that cover everything from courgettes to tomatoes and aubergines to apples.
Will I have trouble finding ingredients? The vast majority will be stocked in your local big supermarket but you may need to visit a deli for things like dried morels and comté cheese. Blanc’s passion for fruit and veg may inspire you to seek out a good local greengrocer or veg box scheme if you haven’t already (supermarket versions seem to be getting worse and worse in my experience, flavourless and bland).
What’s the faff factor? When Blanc says ‘simply’ he means it. All the recipes have a prep and cook time and usually you will be spending a matter of minutes preparing the dishes. Some of the more sophisticated offerings take longer, for example roast celeriac fondants with celeriac jus require 40 minutes to get ready for an hour in the oven, but they are the exception that proves the rule.
How often will I cook from the book? With granola bars for breakfast, tomato soup for lunch and leftover turkey curry for dinner, plus a TV snack of rosemary and Parmesan popcorn and cut and come again cake for afternoon tea, when won’t you be cooking from Simply Raymond?
Killer recipes? The book may have a noticeably French accent with recipes for moules Provençal, tartiflette and pear almondine, but Blanc’s love of global cuisine comes through in dishes such as tuna ceviche, Japanese-style; slow roasted shoulder of lamb with harissa and the northeast Indian dish of kadai (mixed vegetables in spicy gravy), a recipe contributed by Shailesh Kumar, a chef from the Brasserie Blanc restaurant group.
What will I love? The book is full of delightful little twists and surprises such as flourless crepes made only with over-ripe bananas, eggs and salt; mayonnaise made with chickpea water, and flatbreads that are simply equal quantities of flour and yoghurt.
Should I buy it? Straightforward and accessible, the recipes in Simply Raymond will provide much inspiration for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner snacks and sweet treats. That’s enough to put a smile on any cook’s face.
Suitable for: Beginners/confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: Five Stars
Buy this book
Simply Raymond: Recipes from Home – The Sunday Times Bestseller, includes recipes from the ITV series
£25 Headline Home