Book Review – My Family Kitchen by Celebrity Masterchef Sophie Thompson
I love cookery books and when I get a new one I settle down to read it with the same excitement as I would a new novel. I suppose I’m a real foodie as I also love cookery shows (much to my husband’s annoyance) so I was delighted to be asked to review Sophie Thompson’s new recipe book, My Family Kitchen.
I thought Sophie was a worthy winner of last year’s show. Not only did most of her recipes seem to work but she had a lovely warm personality which endeared her to the viewer. Much of her warmth comes through in this book, as each recipe has a story to accompany it. Some have come from friends (not a bunch of showbiz names but people who seem to play a real part in her life) and there are a few well loved family recipes in there also. I was particularly interested to learn that friends in her favourite Italian restaurant put her through her paces with their version of the mystery box test long before she met Greg or John. I naively thought the contestants just turned up and found out how good they really were on the show. I guess those are the ones who go out in the first rounds!
The book starts with a list of what Sophie keeps in her larder. It reminded me a bit of Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food. However, where Jamie was trying to get the nation cooking, My Family Kitchen seems to be aimed more at the middle classes. I suspect most of us have 7 types of vinegar or 6 different varieties of oil in our larder! That being said, the book is full of some lovely sounding recipes which are aimed at feeding those you love, rather than impressing at a dinner party (although some could well do both).
I decided to make the Lamb and Beetroot curry. This is a slow cooked curry and incredibly easy to follow. You literally mix your meat with the spices and grated beetroot, add water and leave it in the oven to work its own magic for about 2.5 hours. My only concern was that the recipe required an unusual spice mix called Panch Phoran which I feared would be impossible to get hold of (although Sophie does give you a list of what it is made up from). However I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick up a packet with ease in my local Waitrose.
I am now a Panch Phoran convert as the curry was delicious and the spices delivered a pungent fragrance with lingered throughout the flat long after we had devoured the curry. The only thing to watch out for is how much water you add, as the beetroot releases a lot while its cooking. The recipe is based on a dish from Sophie’s local curry house and I will definitely be serving it to my friends next time I host a curry night!
The book is full of some beautiful photos from Sophie’s personal scrapbook and some glossies of the dishes she’s presenting. This would make a lovely present if you have a foodie in your life. Or just go ahead and treat yourself if you can’t wait until Christmas. My Family Kitchen is available in shops from 3 September or direct from Amazon.
And just to whet your appetite, here’s Sophie showing you how to make one of her recipes on video. She makes it all look so easy doesn’t she!