I probably would not have bought Ainsley Harriott's Feel-Good Cookbook had it not come to my attention from one of those booksellers who leaves his samples in the workplace for you to look at. Once I browsed though its pages I knew I had to have it. Four years from purchasing it I have to say that, along with Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries: Over 300 new recipes from Britain's best-loved food writer it is one of my favourite cookery books, and my respect and awe at Harriott's knowledge and expertise in all things culinary is not in doubt.
I go back to it time and again for culinary inspiration. My Smoked Mackerel Pilaf I cooked recently was influenced by Ainsley's recipe from this book.
There are 150 recipes. The first section offers original recipes for breakfast. A particular favourite of mine is the toasted muffins with mushrooms and bacon. I also recently made his healthy breakfast bars, packed full of dried fruits and nuts, bound together with oats and honey. It fed our family of four for nearly a week, and only took an hour to prepare and cook.
Portable foods does what it says. My favourite is Ainsley's take on a Gr8 steak and mushroom sandwich - ideal when you've just got home from work totally famished, but don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. As well as the main ingredients, you add red opnion, garlic, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. I have mine not in French bread, as he recommends, but freshly baked ciabatta.
The books other chapters include Light Bites, Substantial Salads, Quick and Easy Suppers, Midweek Meals, Pushing The Boat Out, Side Orders, Puddings, and Cakes and Bakes. What is impressive is that he covers thoroughly many kinds of cuisines - Middle Eastern, Thai, British, Indian, Chinese, Mediteranean, African - and they are, in the majority of cases, relatively easy for a novice cook like myself, to follow and produce great tasting food on an economical budget.
If you have always fancied having a go at something more than popping a ready meal into the microwave, but have always lacked the confidence (as I once did five or so years ago) then this is the starter Bible you need to look at. I give it 10 out of 10. Have a go and give me your comments.