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John Torode's My Kind of Food review

Review: My Kind of Food by John Torode

by Izzy Burton Friday, October 16, 2015

John Torode's latest book, My Kind of Food, shares recipes his has collected throughout his life and career. From recipes passed on from his grandmother to those which featured on the menus of exclusive restaurants, these are dishes the MasterChef judge loves to cook at home – and so will you.

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Izzy writes for Great British Chefs where she combines a lifetime love of food and tricolons.

I’m not quite sure where I stand on the idea of ‘food porn’, but if it exists it arguably falls into two distinct categories. The first is the molecular, the vivid purées, artful blobs and golden skin that we gaze at longingly on the websites of Michelin-starred restaurants. In ogling terms, this is akin to my flatmate googling pictures of Roger Federer (which she does, periodically). The second comes from that stomach pang we get from looking at a plate of squidgy brownies, glossy macaroni cheese or the broken yolk of a perfectly poached egg cascading over a thick slice of buttered toast. If the analogy still stands up, this is similar to me fluttering my eyelashes at the suave barista who makes my coffee every morning – here it is the accessible, not aspirational, which appeals.

My Kind of Food by MasterChef’s John Torode falls very much into the second camp which is preferable, I think, for cookbooks. Its intended destiny is to be a well-thumbed family favourite which is used throughout the whole week, from quick midweek suppers to Sunday dinner and lazy weekend brunches. The chapters set out this wide appeal, usefully categorising the recipes in seven different sections: Brunch and Lunch, For the Family, In a Rush, Stores and Leftovers, All Outside, Leave Overnight and To Finish.

Brunch is, perhaps, the most exciting of the seven sections – as you’d expect from a chef who grew up in Australia, where the breakfasts are leisurely and the coffee superb. Indeed, there are some lovely versions of classic Australian brunch recipes here (including the toasted banana bread, corn cakes and now ubiquitous smashed avocado) along with influences from around the world: granola and labne, American hash browns with crispy bacon, poached eggs with tomato kasundi and London’s very own omelette Arnold Bennett.

My Kind of Food by John Torode

This sort of cultural variety is evident throughout the book – the Australian influence again, no doubt – with a good mix of recipes from Europe, Asia and America. Beef rendang, Korean fried chicken and steamed scallop dumplings are found between recipes for Glamorgan sausages, baked cod with olives and spaghetti carbonara, and the desserts run the gamut from delicate citrus granita to sticky jam doughnuts and hearty steamed puddings. In the slow cooking section, the beautifully photographed five-hour roast pork belly (one of the chef’s signatures) appears more than worth the wait.

Each dish is captured with excellent photography (the odd bewildering shot of Torode peeking out from behind his kitchen door aside) and, oh joy, printed on thick uncoated paper. A friend of mine insists on wearing white t-shirts every day, despite spilling a decent percentage of each meal down his front. In much the same way, I prefer my cookbooks to be printed on uncoated paper despite being the sort of person who runs a dough-covered finger down the page at regular intervals. Yes, in just a matter of weeks the sticky, flour covered pages of this book will give away which recipes are my favourite, but the paper quality does make for a much nicer reading experience.

Recipes are concise and clear, for the most part fitting on one page, with useful notes for less confident cooks (such as egg size, butter type and temperatures) and handy suggestions for substitutions and servings. It’s nice, too, to discover the diverse sources of inspiration for these recipes outlined by Torode in the introduction to each dish. These vary from his childhood memories of his nanna’s kitchen to the hallowed walls of Conran’s Le Pont de la Tour, all of which help to reinforce the underlying message of the book: good food is good food, no matter where it comes from.

Buy this book:

My Kind of Food: Recipes I Love to Cook at Home (Headline, September 2015)

 
 

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Review: My Kind of Food by John Torode

 
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