With Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, and Jamie Oliver among the ranks of current British chefs-or-cooks-who-write, it seems to me that some of the most exciting ideas about eating and food are coming from across the pond with a British accent. Now enter Simon Hopkinson, with Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Like his compatriots, Hopkinson is deeply interested in making and eating food that evokes emotions and memories. Simply skim the introduction and you’ll see this isn’t a book about getting dinner on the table but about making meals that matter. Hopkinson delights in honest ingredients and recipes that emphasize taste over aesthetics, with a voice that’s pitch-perfect for anyone who loves a glass of wine and a good chat while chopping.
As the title indicates, roast chicken is one of Hopkinson’s great loves, rubbed with butter and seasoned simply with a lemon and some thyme; it’s not a new recipe, but one so perfect you’ll never need another. I was skeptical about braised endive, simmered slowly for two hours (as he himself mentions, it seems like an awfully long time), but this man knows his chicory – it was lovely. And as for his petit pot au chocolat, it’s more crème than custard: an intensely rich dessert with a dark “crust” that belies a silky underneath.
Organized alphabetically by ingredient with whimsical illustrations, Hopkinson makes the familiar fresh while also offering up new thoughts on everything from anchovies and ceps (porcinis) to saffron and, my personal favorite, “pork pieces and bacon bits.”
If you love to read cookbooks, you’ll want to curl up with Roast Chicken and Other Stories. And if you love to cook, you won’t want to leave the stove until spring if you’re hanging out with Hopkinson in your kitchen.
• Order Roast Chicken and Other Stories, $16.87 at Amazon
This is by Suzanne, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Suzanne!