For people who care about their food

SORTED – a rookie’s guide to crackin’ cooking

Ben Ebbrell, winner of Good Food Channel’s Market Kitchen talent search 2009, and author of SORTED – a recipe for student survival, has this month brought out another new book, SORTED – a rookie’s guide to crackin’ cooking. Ben has also appeared on many national radio and TV shows and is destined to become a big name in cooking. I will eat my apron if he doesn’t.

The book is aimed at young novice cooks and shows how to have fun making good food. In a nutshell it’s: “Vibrant and fun – great photography, exciting recipes, easy to follow instructions, and lively writing!”

Vibrant and fun

This book has been created by young people for young people, even those who have never been let loose in a kitchen before. It encourages the reader that cooking is about confidence and fun. It inspires the reader to experiment and try new things – there are no instructions which must be followed blindly (although it does concede, as most chefs do, that baking is a different ball game where measuring things can be helpful to guarantee success).

Great photography

As well as some terrific foodie photos by Barry Taylor, there are also plenty of photos of the crew having fun while cooking. The big message is that cooking isn’t a chore. It’s fun!

Exciting recipes

It’s quite amazing how much has been crammed into this book. The chapters include:

  • soups
  • fillings (for baked potatoes or sandwiches)
  • salads
  • meat & mash
  • stews & pies
  • cakes & tarts
  • puddings
  • feelin’ thirsty

The recipes themselves are modern, or at least have a modern twist. For example, their beef in Guinness stew is accompanied by horseradish dumplings. Many of the recipes made me think of really good pub grub. It’s not fine dining, but it is good food. It’s exactly what most normal people would want to cook and eat at home without any fuss.

Many of the recipes, such as the sandwiches and salads, are literally meals in minutes. The salads make effective use of pasta, couscous and potato to create quick and easy meals which are tasty and filling. Plus they’re mostly inexpensive, although there is the occasional special treat. By the way, they also show you how to cook a steak to perfection.

And there is not a Spaghetti Bolognese in sight. Surely I can’t be the only one who remembers the days when if you were invited to a soirée you never wondered about what culinary delights might await you. It was invariably Spag Bol. Those days are gone! Welcome to the world of: Asian bean sprout salad; light and fragrant fish stew; pork chop with apple and sage mash, cider cream sauce and broccoli; and chocolate orange mousse. I wish this book had existed when I was younger!

As well as all this, there’s also plenty of “how to…” pieces – how to make bread, how to fillet a fish, and so on – and the advice that you can save a lot of money by doing things for yourself rather than buying them ready made or processed.

Easy to follow instructions

There’s no patronising stuff which assumes the would-be cook is a moron. They use a lot of verbs – boil, shake, slice, rip, mix, etc – each followed by a simple task. It doesn’t get any easier than this. Also very helpful is that each recipe is accompanied by a simple table of symbols according to cost, time, nutrition, and number of servings.

Lively writing

It’s all about fun, fun, fun! The SORTED crew had a ball making this book and it shows. Every page inspires you to cook something and enjoy yourself while you’re at it. Get into the kitchen, experiment, try new things, and above all have fun doing it.

In summary

Ben Ebbrell is going to be one of the biggest stars of his generation. Jamie Oliver does a lot to help young people, but the once “cute” boy of cooking is now in his mid-thirties, and it’s time for some young, new talent on the culinary scene. Delia Smith has gone back to prehistory by recommending tinned mince in her recipes. Gordon Ramsay has fallen from his former glory. The stage is set for someone new and vibrant. Ben is just the guy to take on the role.

You can buy the book (and I recommend you do – even if you’re not young or a rookie cook) from most good booksellers including Amazon, or go direct to the SORTED website for a 25% discount. By the way, you can also find plenty of videos to talk you through and show you how to make lots of delicious things on the SORTED website.

SORTED – a rookie’s guide to crackin’ cooking
by Ben Ebbrell and the SORTED crew

Paperback, 176 pages
2010, Co-Incidence Ventures Ltd
ISBN 978-0-9559408-2-8
RRP £12

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