In our house, a mark of a good cookbook is whether it lives almost permanently on the kitchen worktop, frequently referred to and in use. Here's a new book which I know right away will fall into that category. Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook is quite stunning to look at and packed with the sort of recipes which make you want to rush to the kitchen immediately and start cooking something interesting, uncomplicated and full of flavour. Being a "garden" cookbook, its emphasis is on fruit and vegetables - though it's not exclusively vegetarian - but with everything from canapes to starters, main dishes, puddings and preserves, it celebrates seasonal food and imaginative cooking in the best way.
I've been reading it, hungrily, this morning, and my verdict is that it's likely to invigorate my repertoire of recipes no end - even a keen and quite versatile cook gets stale at times and can find the same old routine dishes a bit dull, but this has everything you could want, and if you grow fruit and vegetables yourself, so much the better. What to make first? From the July/August section how about pasta with roasted tomatoes and garlic for a quick supper, red onion marmalade to go with bread and cheese, or blackcurrant and almond cake.
The Guild of Food Writers have named this book Cookery Book of the Year, and I can see why; at an inch and a half thick, full of beautiful photographs, and described by Nigel Slater as "...dazzling - inspiring, intelligent, invaluable", who could fail to be impressed? I know I shall be using it constantly.