Hugh said you can come into my kitchen?

The Book

Hugh’s Three Great Things… on a plate

Author (s)

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

What it says on the back cover

‘I want to set you off in a fresh creative direction, by showing you a pattern that underpins many well loved dishes. Tomato, avocado and mozzarella; bacon and pea puree; rhubarb, crumble and custard… they all work, don’t they? This should come as no great surprise. After all, it’s no secret that three is a magic number and all of these dishes are, quite simply, three good things on a plate’.

What made me pick up this book?

A combination of thoughts. I went into my local library looking for books on biodiversity and food and culture and get my head around the ideas that I had in my many brainwaves I have for a research project idea.

I saw this book in  641 section of my library which is the Dewey decimal classification for Food and Drink that lead me to come across not just one book but several books written by this very talented author and television presenter.

Having watched the series under the same title Hugh’s Three Good Things I was very tempted to see what was inside. I pulled the book out of the shelves smiled at the front cover and then popped it into my Harrods bag to be ready for when I would take it out of the counter to have it issued. When the time came, I took out not just one of Hugh’s books but two as I have always enjoyed his ideas, thoughts on sustainability and making his own mark on getting back to basics all of which are part of his River Cottage which is award winning Chef’s school and where Hugh uses to promote many of his television shows.

About the book

This book as the author suggest is no secret nor is it rocket science to work out why three ingredients actually can work so well. In the book, Hugh has done all the hard work for us by experimenting with three main ingredients and ever so slightly adding a few other ingredients that would be considered miscellaneous such as oil, salt or pepper.

For example I love homemade pizzas and so does he as Hugh who admits to having a bit of fixation on developing the best toppings. In this book it will teach you what works and how to make your own pizza base and if you do not like something or do not have it, I see no reason why you cannot substitute it for something else. Like right now I do not have any kale handy. In fact it is either sold really quickly to the customers that frequent my grocery store before I get there or they only stock it now and again. I have only managed to purchase it once and so far to date I have not seen it since.

But getting back to the story, I found a wonderful little recipe called Kale, Onions and Chestnuts and as I do not have any kale I thought I could substitute this with spinach. It may not have that same sort of crunch but the deep earthy flavour is still there.  The dough of course is important which Hugh gives a great straightforward recipe so I decided to speed things up just a little and blitz the water, flour, salt and yeast through my food processor due to my time constraints and it still tasted just as good as if I had been kneading it. Naturally I left my one to rest a little before using it and put it somewhere warm and then when it had doubled in size I then brought it back to the bench with some flour and started the kneading process.

Is this book worth buying?

This book not only will teach you how to use three great things but it may also teach you how to cook extra quick food, which is great if you do not have time on your hands and great if you only have a limited amount of things available in your cupboards or fridge. While some may like to nip out and head to the nearest takeaway, this book is a fast food book in itself. They really are simple.

The recipes in the book are all very straight forward and easy to follow. I also suggest studying the book a for a bit and looking at how you could improvise a little by adding your own twist on something  that Hugh has already produced, w which is great as he totally recommends that you do so anyway.

Its about looking at what you have got, looking at what you enjoy and if you want to try something new but have never tried it, it will give you the basics that will start you off.

For example  I love lentils, I think that they are an excellent source of protein and are very versatile especially when you are not really wanting to eat a meaty meal. Lentils go well with meat as well and can be used as fillers for pies, in a meatloaf or even a vegetarian loaf.

In fact if anyone is to go snooping through my pantry they will find an abundance of lentils in there. Dried lentils and canned ones. I sometimes find it can be cheaper and easier to buy the canned ones especially when you want to make up something like a hummus or a dip made from  cannellini beans (unfortunately I have never found the dried variety here in New Zealand) and garlic which is excellent by the way with a drizzle of oil and fresh garlic and a smidgen of parsley… 🙂 Hey I have just created my own three ingredients…

Anyway…

In the book I notice that Hugh uses a lot of what are called Puy lentils which are from France  that look very similar to a black lentil in India called Urad dahl.This book has several recipes that call for the puy lentil and do not forget purchasing lentils are so affordable so its not going to break your budget if you are budget conscious. Still if you did not have it you could substitute it with the urad dahl and although some of us do not access to pigeon in our butchers and supermarkets, we could substitute this with chicken or any other white breasted meat of our choice. The trick is to have fun with food and it is very clear in this book that Hugh had a lot of fun producing different recipes that require minimum effort and fuss.

This book is a lovely read and a great book to get ideas and to write some of them down and share with others. This is a great fast food book for any cook regardless of their culinary experience and giving anyone a chance to play around with their food and find tastes that work and taste great.

How about this dish to get you going…

Good on you Hugh! 🙂

“If you go a bit further and start swapping new ingredients into the trinity (celery for fennel, pollack for mackerel, plums for peaches), then the sky’s the limit/ That’s why  so many of the recipes come with simple ideas for varying the offering: my ‘plus ones’ and ‘swaps’. They are tried and tested too, and I hope you’ll  use them as a jumping-off point to knock out your own freewheeling interpretations of these lovely combinations”- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh’s Three Great Things 2012.
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