Easy – Tom Aikens
Ebury Press – 2011
Photography: John Lawrence Jones
I had never heard of Tom Aikens before picking up this book but I was impressed both with the idea and organisation. This has a really good approach to food and cooking. Food should be easy, green and not wasteful. There are fab and very useful notes at the top of the recipes about meal planning, health benefits or the best places to get ingredients.
There is a good balance between simple and more complicated recipes here, however there is also a 50/50 split on interesting and really quite ordinary. I think my main complaint in fact is that there are no fireworks – nothing to really grab you and make you want to head for the kitchen. I managed to read most of this book without feeling hungry, that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) happen with me and cookery books. The other niggle is that it’s called Easy but some of them have rather a lot of ingredients, time and steps involved. It feels as though it has somehow tried to be too many things all at the same time and so it’s hard to tell what market Aikens is aiming for.
Well styled overall. It feels like a good quality book with a nice layout and font, easy to read and follow with the ingredients above the title of the recipe allowing a clean separation from the meal itself. The organisation makes it really easy to follow with sensible sections breaking the book up into when you are most likely to want the recipes. There isn’t much of a contents page but the index is clear and well planned. It is very short on pictures and although the photographs are well taken the styling is rather off, a lot of the food doesn’t look at all appealing.
Aikens is clearly a good chef but the choice of recipes seems haphazard – my favourites from the book included the Lamb with Sweet Honey Aubergines, the Roast Chicken and Spaghetti Soup and the Chocolate Pain Perdu. The ‘Something for the Weekend’ section was easily the most appealing to my style of cooking. It is perhaps that each section will suit a different type of chef which is why it seems hard to categorise. Most of the recipes have a very traditional ingredient combination, it’s a rather safe set of recipes and not good for the adventurous. However, as a basic cookery book it has a good set of everyday recipes with nice textures and a nice balance between meat, fish, poultry and vegetables.