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The Hairy Biker’s Best Loved Recipes

The Hairy Biker’s Best Loved Recipes: Mums Still Know Best – Si King & Dave Myers
Weidenfeld and Nicholson – 2011
Photography: Cristian Barnett

This wins a prize for the most confusing title. I am still not sure I get it. It’s book two – that much I have gathered. And because this is me I haven’t read book one, I never seem to read things in order. I have also had zero encounters with either of the ‘authors’ before – they are only sort of the authors because a lot of the recipes have been sourced from other people and I think they are some of the best in the book.
The introduction is great (especially if you missed the first book) and it’s a good idea to showcase family recipes that have already been road tested by non-chefs. However this does mean that you get a very varied bunch of recipes and it’s unlikely that anyone will like all of the sections in here, it is another non-niche cookery book that seems a little loosely planned for my liking. The sections are rather bizarrely split neither by season, ingredient or meal meaning that it’s hard to know where to look and the contents page is no help. On the other hand the index is excellent and easy to use which is a huge boon.
It is made rather harder to work through because a lot of the sourced recipes have family names to them “Mama’s Curry” for example which without a picture gives very little indication of what you are going to be getting if you make it, a few have no descriptions as well “Tio Roberto’s Gambas Al Ajillo” is still a mystery to me. A lot of these are also quite basic and are very particular to one family’s tastes. It has a great range of different styles and cultures of cooking while still highlighting some great local ingredients. I am not sure if the mixture of recipes would appeal to everyone – it’s hard to tell when you would use this but I got a few interesting ideas from it.
The photography is well done and shows the food off nicely but is rather boring – the styling could do with being a bit more exciting. The ingredients are listed in the order that you need them which is a good way of doing it once you get used to it rather than having the main ingredients first. Also there is a really great balance of savouries and sweets – something that a lot of books seem to have trouble getting right, this is spot on.
I’m not sure that this would add much to my recipe repertoire but it might be worth it if you wanted to get a wider range of basic family recipes. The ones that appealed most to me were the Stuffed Cabbage, the Cholent, the Spiced Teacakes and the Pigeon with Walnuts. My favourite section was easily the High Tea one, very nice selection of late-tea and early-supper ideas.

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