Unwelcome news from a publisher's press release. A book's coming out this autumn called Recipes to Know by Heart. I discussed a book with almost exactly the same title a couple years ago with a journalist friend. The idea was that I'd come up with the master recipes and he, as an amateur cook, would test them. We got as far as floating it informally with a publisher but because I was working on another book at the time I let it drift. So my fault entirely but it's maddening to find we've now been pipped at the post.
In fact cooking without recipes, or at least exact measurements, has become a bit of a mini-trend, started by Nigel Slater a few years ago with Appetite. (Actually it started even further back with Elizabeth David - recipes didn't use to be nearly as prescriptive as they are now.)
Since then there has been Nicholas Clee's Don't Sweat the Aubergine which I mentioned the other day, a couple of others whose names I can't remember and most recently veteran cookery writer Glynn Christian's How to Cook without Recipes which I'm reading with great enjoyment at the moment.
Obviously there must be a demand for these books otherwise publishers wouldn't keep coming up with copycat versions but, despite having thought of it myself, I wonder who buys them? Even as an experienced cook I quite like to read a recipe to see how a writer achieves the end result, even if I stray off-piste and do my own thing with it. When I first started to cook I followed recipes to the letter and I would say that people are less confident in the kitchen these days.
So what do you think? Does this type of book appeal or do you prefer a conventional cookery book? If so which ones do you refer to most often? Or do you ignore cook books altogether and do your own thing?