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Dutch Cookbook Review: Home Made

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Dutch Cookbook Review: Home Made

Home Made

Photo © Fontaine

The Bottom Line

While certainly cyclical ('homemade' is one of the biggest culinary trends right now) this book doesn't feel like it's been cooked up in a marketing office. If you're eager to learn how to make your own cheese, smoke your own fish, can your own vegetables or brew liqueur at home without fancy equipment, this is the book for you. The heavy tome also offers recipes that put these homemade pantry items to good use, including a number of old classics (some with a nice new twist) and a few original and surprising recipes (dog biscuits!).

Pros

  • Handy and inspiring DIY sections for old-fashioned kitchen crafts.
  • Over 200 recipes and menus for every occasion, from birthday breakfasts to funerals.
  • Won Dutch Cookbook Of The Year 2010 at the annual Dutch Cookbook of the Year competition.
  • Nominated for Best First Cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2011.
  • An English version of Home Made was published in August 2011.

Cons

  • We would have liked to see more recipes from the Dutch kitchen.
  • Some hand drawn recipes and fonts can be difficult to decipher - especially in the heat of cooking!

Description

Guide Review - Dutch Cookbook Review: Home Made

UPDATE: This review is of the original Dutch version of Home Made. The book has since been published in English.

The rediscovery of old-fashioned kitchen crafts is a major food trend, so it's not surprising that many cookbook publishers have gone for that homemade look and feel in recent years (think Jamie Oliver's Jamie At Home; Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl; and Jam It, Pickle It, Cure it: and other cooking projects by Karen Solomon). But if we believe the hype, this one is the real deal. Author Yvette van Boven's name regularly crops up in Dutch magazines, such as Delicious., Elle Food, Flow, and Margriet and she even styled the food in a Wallpaper* magazine shoot this year. Apparently, Van Boven didn't only write the book and develop the recipes, but also did all the illustrations and styling. She even designed the fonts. Meanwhile, her photographer husband took all the pictures. Talk about homemade!

The author, who was born in Ireland, divides her time between Paris and Amsterdam, and it shows. With over 200 recipes, the cookbook contains many French dishes, such as oeuf cocotte, confit de canard and parfait. There are also plenty of Irish recipes, such as brown soda bread, scones and Irish tea brack. Other recipes seem to originate from the author's travels, such as baked risotto, eggs benedict, taboulleh with pomegranite, and dolmas. Considering her Dutch connections, it would actually have been nice to see more recipes from the Dutch kitchen, however.

Recipes and menu suggestions are given for all manner of occasions, from breakfast to dinner and from birthdays to funerals. No doubt Van Boven's catering experience proved invaluable here (the author is co-owner of a restaurant and catering company in Amsterdam). There's even a menu for a 'menage a trois' (who knew food was required?) Conveniently, alphabetical indexes are given for both the ingredients and the recipes. There are classic recipes and ones that have the author's own twist - and even a few surprises (homemade dog biscuits!). But what's probably most useful about the book are the step-by-step instructions for making what many consider scary kitchen projects, such as homemade jam, bread, smoked fish and cheese (yes, she makes her own cheese and the mustard to go with it). These DIY sections include photos of every part of the process and offer clear, simple instructions. What's more, there's no need for specialized equipment.

The book includes a number of handsome hand drawn recipes and fonts. In fact, all headers are in a hand written font and some recipes are entirely handwritten and -drawn, which can be hard to read when you're in the middle of cooking. One of the cardinal rules of a good recipe is that it should be easy to read, and while these illustrated recipes certainly tick the pretty box, they are not always practical to cook from. The herring salad on pg. 192 is particularly impossible, with its hair-fine white font on a black background. In places, the photography also suffers from what can only be described as a homemade look, proving yet again what we've always believed - that making great food look appetizing in print is a huge challenge - even for the professionals.

Despite some minor criticisms, we really like the book and heartily recommend it. The DIY sections are its biggest selling point and every recipe we've tried has worked splendidly. So, if you've been wanting to get back to the basics in the kitchen, but were too afraid to try, rest assured that Van Boven will take your hand and walk you through it with a wink and a smile.

Try a Recipe from the Book:

  • Pickled Beet Salad with Ash-Coated Goat's Cheese
  • Foamy Fava Bean Soup with Basil and Avocado Cream
  • Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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