Book review: A Year in 120 Recipes by Jack Monroe

image2

You probably know Jack Monroe. She is a single mum whose blog hit the big time. Rather than waffling on about old long dead politicians as some people choose to do on their blogs, she decided to put recipes on hers and it soon became a smash hit. This led to a book A Girl Called Jack
https://chrishallamworldview.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/a-girl-called-jack-book-review/ released earlier this year described as “the best cookery book of all” by my wife. If this seems sexist, in my defence a) I am a rubbish cook and my wife genuinely does all the cooking and b) I do most of the cleaning around the house and all the washing up. Quite badly.

Jack Monroe photographed for Observer Food Monthly

This is the follow-up book to A Girl Called Jack. It is actually a slightly plusher and better presented book than the first (though is also more expensive). Like the first, however, it does contain many easily affordable recipes which are not only nice to eat but can be made easily using any odds and ends which you might realistically have lying around in your kitchen. And Billy Bragg is in here too: she is a bit political.
Recipes include Babab Gosht, Burned Brown Sugar Meringues, Lazarus Pesto and a Peanut Butter Bread.
I may reserve judgement until we have sampled the results. But early evidence suggests the old Jack magic has struck again.

Jack-Monroe-author-of-the-cookery-book-A-GIRL-CALLED-JACK

A Year in 120 Recipes
Jack Monroe
Published by Penguin Hardback, £18.99

Food book review round-up

Image

A Girl Called Jack

100 Delicious Budget Recopies

By Jack Monroe

Penguin/Michael Joseph Paperback

RRP: £12.99

A Girl Called Jack: Update!

Further to our earlier review, we are increasingly finding this to be one of the best food books around. The cost of our own household food shopping budget has been effectively halved with recipes proving tasty, easy to follow and requiring only must use cupboard essentials. There is thus little need to plan far in advance.

Particular favourite have proven to be courgette and mini fritters (p116) and courgettes and creamy Greek cheese and courgette pasta (p98).

 Image

Bill’s Italian Food

Bill Granger

Published by HarperCollins

RRP £20

A good book with nice pictures throughout for the aspirational reader who may easily be able to visit Italy themselves. This book was of less use to us personally though.

 Image

John Whaites Bakes At Home

Published by: Headline

RRP £20

Few authors write as well about food as John Whaites. With a broad range of recipes (including comparatively obscure ones such as ”Aussie Crunch” which my wife had been seeking out since eating some in childhood), Whaites presents both the most simple and the most complex recipes in a manner which makes either seem easily achievable and retains a good sense of humour in his writing throughout.

Other nice touches include the excellent pictures throughout (although one per recipe at least would be nice), the useful tips section at the front plus the special recipes section at the back. Highly recommended!

A Girl Called Jack book review

Image

A Girl Called Jack

100 Delicious Budget Recopies

By Jack Monroe

Penguin/Michael Joseph Paperback

£12.99

Let’s face it: Jack Monroe isn’t the first and won’t be the last. Numerous cookbook authors have stressed their low budget credentials before and will do so again. While aspirational cookery has always remained popular even during the darkest days of the recent recession, it would be a foolish foodie indeed who entirely ignored entirely the constraints forced upon many ordinary people by the turmoil resulting from the jiggery pokery of our once esteemed global banking industry, plus the subsequent devastating economic slump.

The difference is that, without wishing to get all Karl Marx-y about it, author Jack Monroe has solid recent and raw experience of life on what used to be called “the breadline”.  She was and is a single mother from Southend and spent a full year on the dole as recently as 2011. Her words thus carry somewhat more credibility on this score than the Nigellas and Jamies of this world, well-meaning though they me be.

Not that this would matter a hell of a lot if Jack Monroe’s recipes which include Chocolate Tea Bread, Jam Thumbprint  Cookies and Pasta alla Genovese were not a) genuinely makeable with cheap and readily available ingredients. But thankfully they are (the Pasta alla Genovese is especially scrumptious).

Furthermore, as a lesbian and a onetime benefit claimant, Jack Monroe has at least two attributes which make her a Public Enemy in the eyes of the Daily Mail.

What more prompting do you need? Go out and buy this excellent and endlessly resourceful book. The accompanying TV series is surely only a matter of time.

Image