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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Simple Suppers by Rick Stein

In his latest cookbook filled with cosy inspiration, beloved British chef Rick Stein delivers over 100 fuss-free yet scrumptious recipes for relaxed everyday cooking and casual gatherings with friends. True to its title, Simple Suppers champions unfussy, straightforward dishes that celebrate quality ingredients and time-honoured techniques without lengthy instructions or esoteric components.

Ever the convivial host, Stein introduces each recipe with warm reminiscences and cooking tips, like his ultimate scrambled eggs requiring little but butter and whisking. Between recipes, he peppers homespun "essays" on various topics including the overzealous “salt police” and why the youth may have moved beyond dinner parties to quick “sandwich stir-fries.”

While not steering entirely clear of nostalgia, Simple Suppers acknowledges modern home cooks’ penchant for supermarket shortcuts like ready puff pastry and canned beans. Stein seems delighted by such “cheats,” heartily encouraging readers to deploy them as needed. That pragmatic, cheery acceptance of evolving cooking mores permeates the book.

At over 75 recipes, the fish and seafood chapter - unsurprisingly for Stein - shines brightest. From fish pie to salt cod fritters, he coaxes oceanic flavours into harmonious balance with little complicated technique. Similarly, the meat chapter provides a master class in elevating humble chops and chicken breasts with well-matched sauces. See harissa lamb with chickpea mash or Japanese-style breadcrumbed pork with homemade tonkatsu sauce.

Vegetarian recipes receive ample space as well, like vegetable bourguignon with dumplings or a tomato panzanella salad. And throughout the run homey classics perfected like his mother’s leftover roast chicken soup. Such dishes feel timeless in their simplicity and heartiness.

While this is no avant garde cookbook, the recipes brim with global inspiration from Stein’s travels, be it coconut prawn curry or za’atar spiced chicken. Presentation seems an afterthought next to flavours, in keeping with Stein’s unfussy ethos. Ultimately each dish delivers on the promise of a hearty, consoling meal after a long day.

With Simple Suppers, Stein has gifted us the definitive back-pocket cookbook filled with EA yet still exciting recipes to deploy for any occasion. Novices can cook confidently from these pages while veterans may appreciate ingenious shortcuts. For any home cook seeking to pare back and simplify without sacrificing joy or flavour, this collection delivers in spades. Pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine, and let Rick Stein walk you through the art of keeping supper easy, cosy and deliciously inspired.

Reviewer: Chris Reed



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