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The Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry – Anna Hansen
Ebury Press – 2011
Photography: Christopher Terry.

I had heard really good things about The Modern Pantry although I’ve never managed to make it there myself. The cookbook is laid out in very clear sections from condiments to vegetable dinners which makes it easier to navigate than most and the complete contents page means you can always find what you’re looking for. There is also a really great pantry list at the back of the book which is interesting to read even if you don’t end up basing your shopping list around it.
The introduction is a nice addition but is more of a CV and cooking history by Anna Hansen rather than the increasingly popular lengthy biography-style writing.
There are not many of the recipes that I would use every-day, for me this would work better as a cookbook to have for entertaining rather than something I would grab if I needed to make something for supper. The breakfasts make for a fascinating read and are brilliantly different – it’s pretty rare to find someone who can come up with new breakfast recipes as so many things have been done already. There are lots of good veggie options and a nice balance between savouries and sweets.
Some very inventive takes on old favourite recipes such as the Steamed Kumquat Marmalade pudding, which luckily has a picture to accompany it and looks wonderful. Overall it could do with more pictures due to the inventive nature of a lot of the recipes – there are some that I would be willing to make if there was a picture so that I had an indication of the finished product. The salads (often rather complex) have a good number of pictures but the puddings really could do with more illustration.
The layout is excellent – as well as being nicely organised it’s a very high quality print and the font is easy to read. The pages stay open well and the photographs are fantastic. Although the styling is a little old-fashioned this quite suits the style of the book.
My favourite recipes were the Beetroot, Lentil and Mint Salad with Pomegranate Molasses and Orange Dressing, the Slow Roast Pork with Cox’s Apple, Sour Cherry and Fennel chutney, and the Honey-roast Pear, Chestnut and Oat Crumble.
Not something to use every day but excellent for occasion cooking and some lovely ones that will definitely become favourites.

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