As soon as I heard about the opportunity to review this book, I stuck my hand up. I'd heard of Sam Stern before and considered buying one of his books but never quite got round to it. His previous books have been, I think, very much aimed at a younger audience (hence my temptation to buy one - I am not a confident cook) and I am quite sure that his latest book - Virgin to Veteran - was written especially for me!
The book starts with loads of helpful little tips about food and cooking techniques. It includes hints on 'Fridge Etiquette', 'How To Freeze Stuff' and suggests what to keep in your store cupboard. There is a whole section on 'Vegetables and Salads' advising what to look for when choosing veg, how to cook different types of vegetable and which dishes to serve them with.
It covers all of the basics including fish pie, roast chicken and spaghetti bolognese and there is a fab recipe for roast pork and baked apples.
Although it includes all of the basics you'd expect to see, a few unusual recipes also make a welcome appearance - the aromatic lamb madras, Greek lamb pie and asparagus ravioli all sound delicious. There are also a few burger suggestions I'd love to try out.
The book didn't just appeal to me because I'm a novice cook (although it would be a fantastic gift for any teens who are heading off to uni this year). To me, the book is a celebration of good, simple, tasty food. It appeals to my appetite for fresh flavours and good quality ingredients. I can see us using this book a lot - Andrew is trying to improve his culinary skills and has taken it upon himself to try a new recipe each week. He's going to start with the easiest recipe in Sam's book this week and says he will make bruschetta (with a selection of toppings) on Wednesday night. One suggested topping with broad beans and feta sounds especially yummy. I am so hoping for sunshine - a plateful of freshly made bruschetta and a glass of red wine would go down a treat in the garden as the sun slowly sets.
We've had a busy old weekend - it was Andrew's 40th birthday yesterday and his Mum's present to him was an all-expenses paid trip to the hotel that we were married in two years ago. It was utterly delightful and we had the most amazing time. We had the spa to ourselves for about an hour yesterday afternoon which was bliss!
I did manage to fit in a tiny bit of shopping this weekend, though, as you'd expect! In one of our local towns, Olney, there is a gorgeous little shop called Chic Boutique. The owner is lovely and stocks (amongst other things) a wonderful selection of vintage china at really good prices - I always want to take the whole shop home with me. I managed to control myself but did come home with this pretty floral trio and sweet Peter Rabbit child's mug which I will save for when my niece comes to visit.
Hope everyone has a fab week. Fingers crossed for some warm, sunny days...