Nigel Slater is one of those authors I can hear talking whenever I read his recipes. More importantly, he is also one of those authors I trust, and any time I pick up a Nigel Slater recipe I’m confident that I’ll get to the end without being bemused by incomprehensible instructions or missing ingredients, and with a plate of something delicious in front of me.
Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter, published in October, is a companion title to Greenfeast: Spring, Summer (which came out this spring). It focuses on the hearty, warming food that we all crave as nights draw in and the temperature falls – soups, pies and carbs galore.
The recipes are split along practical lines, into chapters such as ‘On Toast’ and ‘In The Oven’ rather than the more traditional divisions by course or ingredient. This literal-minded approach continues to the recipes themselves – with titles like ‘Mushrooms, Chickpeas, Tahini’ and ‘Gnocchi, Peas, Egg Yolk’, it occasionally feels like these were placeholder recipe names that the author intended to come back and elaborate on but never quite got round to it. In a way, I like the simplicity and honesty of it – the names are perfectly in keeping with the recipes themselves – but it can be a bit frustrating trying to work out what a dish actually is (a soup? a pie? a stew?) from a title that is simultaneously detailed and yet non-descriptive.
Recipes are generally presented on a single page, with a photograph of the finished dish facing. There isn’t so much a description of the dish, as a short, pithy subheading before diving into the detail.
The recipes – and often the pictures as well – are deceptively plain and simple; there is usually just a handful of ingredients and the method is straightforward and uncomplicated. And yet every dish turns out just as you would expect, only twice as flavourful.
You’re never left wondering what the author wants you to do, and everything works right first time.
Every recipe has a single overhead shot of the finished dish and as none of the recipes are particularly complex, there’s no need for additional shots to explain intermediary steps. The plain matt finish makes the photography feel a little flat, without the usual gloss printing that makes colours sing. This flat-lay styling makes it feel like a recipe book for the Instagram generation, which suits us well as we like to see what a dish should look like before making it.
The one negative aspect is this is probably one of the least “sit flat” cookery books I’ve seen for a long time; it simply doesn’t want to stay open and the small page size means that by the time you’ve held it open with a couple of heavy objects, you’ve obscured most of the page you need to read – I can only assume that publishers have minions to hold their cook books open.
So far we’ve made the ‘Mushroom, Butternut & Soured Cream’ (soup) several times, as well as ‘Leeks, Caerphilly, Mustard’ (a cheese and leek white sauce grilled over crumpets). There are many, many more recipes that appeal, and we’ll be making soon.
We’ve shared that ‘Mushroom, Butternut & Soured Cream‘ (soup) with permission, so do give it a go, it’s so delicious!