I am thrilled that my new cookbook is now available. The idea is that each recipe can only use 5 ingredients (excluding the 'essentials' of butter, oil, salt and pepper). This pared back approach to cooking has not only resulted in much easier methods, but also the recipes are quick and, generally, more cost effective to prepare. But those side effects are merely serendipitous; the main impetus to write this book was my view that food has gotten a little complicated in recent years. I hold with the belief that you don't need a huge list of ingredients to create delicious, fulfilling plates of food. Allowing ingredients to sometimes speak for themselves is what is simply perfect, and it doesn't take any trickery or molecular gastronomy (I shudder at those words) to prepare food.
This book is very personal to me. That's not to say I have diarised or documented my life here, because I haven't - this book is about the food - but it's personal because for the first time in my publishing career I was allowed to take a leading role with the entire book. I had final say over every detail, both minor and major. As a result the book naturally represents me as an author and cook.
But that feat would never have been achieved if it weren't for the extreme talent behind it. The incredible Helen Cathcart photographed the recipes. At my home in Greenwich we spent nine days shooting the recipes in the light from my living room window. Helen instantly understood the nature of the recipes and the stories behind each one. She photographed the food more perfectly than I could have anticipated. See Helen's website here.
My dear friend and brilliant food stylist Nicole Herft was here too. She styled the recipes so beautifully - she's a true artist. Together we danced and laughed our way round the kitchen as we cooked the food. See Nicole's website here.
It is thanks to Helen and Nicole that we managed to get every single recipe shot. That means the book has 100% photography, which is extremely rare in cookery books these days.
Even more personally, my partner Paul designed this book. That meant the poor thing had to work with me looking over his shoulder, trying to describe in very vague terms what I wanted. Thankfully, after 10 years together, he knows how to decode my waffling. He has created something I'm very proud of, and I am in turn very proud of him.
The book is divided into Weekend Morning Plates for breakfasts and brunches, Hearty Plates of comfort food, Everyday Plates for easy week-night suppers, Worth the Wait Plates for slow cooking, Posh Plates for easy, impressive dishes, Many Plates for sharing and finally Sweet Plates for simple cakes and sweet treats.