I picked up Anna Jones' a modern way to cook because I wanted some new, quick, vegetarian recipes for family meals. Instead, I found myself thrown back into London living circa the late 1980s. And that's not a bad thing.
Everything about the book is reminiscent of a small café (that's pronounced "caff," by the way) in Notting Hill pre-Hugh Grant fame. The spare, clean pictures of the meals. The wide margins. The terminology (there's a lot of "mash" in these recipes.) It's all very earnest. You can imagine having cup of tea, and then your carefully created pea and beet mash flatbread, with a rustic fruit crumble for dessert.
For the most part, honestly, these are not meals we will cook as a family. Jones herself knows that — all the pictures are of two sets of hands, lovingly scooping up exotic soups or multi-colored bowls of vegetables. But the recipes range in complexity — there are quite a few that take under 20 minutes to prepare — so I can imagine us making some of them after a long day, when Beatrix has grabbed dinner-to-go in the car in the way to circus and we want something just a little more adult. I would like to see what our house-mate does with some of them while cooking for his vegan friend. Though most of the recipes seem a little overly precious in presentation, I'm guessing that once they relax a little, once you substitute a few things and don't have to use your "excellent knife skills" (that really is a phrase Jones uses), that they are actually quite nice.
Interspersed between the chapters are some truly usefully little sections, such as "10 simple baked potatoes" (obviously translated, the Brits call them "jacket potatoes") or "10 favorite suppers from 10 favorite vegetables." These are not listed in the Table of Contents, but just kind of turn up as you are going through, and I think they will be the most useful part of the book. I already whipped up a salad dressing ("10 flavor boosts" — yes, she really does need to learn to capitalize words) today, and it was very tasty.
And if a cookbook can remind me of a 20-year-old me with an Annie Lennox haircut and Doc Martens, living in the heart of London, I'll take it!
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review)