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Foolproof Cooking by Mary Berry

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

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Julia Hardy

This is a beautifully produced book and has been well thought out. I particularly liked ‘The Foolproof Kitchen’ section at the rear where there were metric to imperial conversion charts, tips on freezing, entertaining and recipe index. The best part for me, however, was ‘The Foolproof Store Cupboard’ of essential ingredients separated into ‘basic’ and ‘a little extra’. These were divided into sections e.g. baking, pasta, for the fridge etc. The recipes themselves were broken down into numbered points and were easy to follow. I LOVED the fact that the ingredients were given in both imperial and metric quantities. Just a couple of criticisms; from a personal point of view, most of the recipes catered for a minimum of 6 people (with some for four). Living as a couple or a single person it can be difficult to divide up a recipe. Physically the book, like so many other cooking books, is hard to use being so thick and tightly bound that it will not stay open at a particular page. In spite of the above this book would be a useful addition to anyone’s cookery library.

Violet Hancock

I was so happy to receive the latest Mary Berry book, Foolproof Cooking, which follows her recent television programme. I immediately sampled several recipes and found them, as usual for Mrs Berry, trustworthy while still being interesting. 'Mary's Tips' are given with most of the recipes, which makes life easier when you're trying something for the first time. The Cheese and Garlic Tear-and-Share Scones were a particular hit with my family, as were the Banana and Honey Galettes. The pictures are lovely, adding a lot to the ease of the recipes. Virtually every aspect of eating is covered, from Nibbles to all forms of Sweets, Cakes, and Puddings. There is also a brilliant section called 'The Foolproof Kitchen' which gives advice on ingredients, kitchen procedures, etc. I would recommend this book for beginners as well as for seasoned cooks. The only minor criticism I have is that no cooking instructions are given for Aga users, which seems a shame when Mrs Berry has traditionally been a keen supporter of Aga cooking. All in all, a very useful addition to the kitchen library.

Colin Fisher

I was very happy to be chosen to be sent a copy of Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking to review. We already watch some of Marys T.V. shows and are really enjoying the book. This book is very well presented with all manner of household meals as well as lots of puddings which I always love. We mostly eat home cooking already mostly because we like our own meals best of all. There are certainly a number of dishes we would like to try in due course, and we highly recommend this book to anyone interested in trying a variety of home cooked meals.

Jackie Brown

I have several shelves of cookery books, ranging from the stalwart Penguin paperback that reminds me of basic methods, to whole volumes devoted to single themes such as soups, or fish, or puddings. I'm not quite sure where his book fits in. Plus points are the pictures, the preparation and freezing guidance, and the footnote tips. Less obvious are the prep and cooking times which are hidden within the text, and completely absent are the calorific values, easy variants/substitutions or meal combinations. Fans of Mary Berry, I'm not one, will doubtless enjoy the almost random mix of recipes, and will visualise her planning and testing each one. I have found 2 or 3 that I might find useful, but on the whole the more I delved into the book, attractive though it is in presentation, the less I felt that there were meals I actually wanted to make. At £25 I would not be buying this for myself or as a gift.

Shirley Addy

It was a joy to receive this book the day after I first watched Mary Berry’s eponymous television programme, especially when I had already decided to try the recipes that she had shown us. Foolproof Cooking is beautifully presented, and the excellent photographs illustrate every recipe, something I find very useful. Also helpful were Berry’s foolproof tips. In the few weeks available for reviewing this book, I have made one soup, four main courses and one dessert, and all of them were quite easy to make, living up to the book’s title. Her recipes are straightforward and use ingredients that are easy to obtain, and I followed her ‘prepare ahead’ notes when I became impatient to get started. Most importantly, the results were delicious! My favourite recipe is Mexican tortilla bake, a lasagne made with wraps, closely followed by Chicken cordon bleu that is cooked to a golden crisp in a frying pan with very little oil. As I write, I have become hungry. There are so many tantalising recipes in Foolproof Cooking that I am spoilt for choice, but I really do fancy the real honeycomb ice cream. It looks so easy - and foolproof.

Diana Marchand

I have been a fan of Mary Berry’s books for many years, starting with the “Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook” in the early 1980’s. Mary’s sticky flapjack recipe is a firm family favourite. I was, therefore, delighted to receive a copy of “Foolproof cooking” to review. As Mary says in the introduction, the recipes are “dishes you can depend on completely.” How reassuring is that, when confronted with rustling up a meal for unexpected guests? The book is laid out extremely well, with photographs of every recipe, and handy tips and hints on each page, to ensure success. It would be an ideal comprehensive guide for a new cook, but equally, as a more experienced cook, I found much to enjoy. I am looking forward to trying out many more recipes, but so far, I have enjoyed the roasted vegetable quiche, and the brioche bread and butter pudding. The book is like having a good friend in the kitchen, easy to get on with, and thoroughly reliable. Mary avoids fancy gimmicks- no sous-vide dishes or foam garnishes- but there are plenty of recipes both for everyday cooking and for entertaining. It is a book which I am very happy to add to my cookery collection.

Dorothy Garlick

An absolute gem of a cookery book which is fast becoming a firm favourite in my kitchen library. The recipes are clear and easy to follow and all are beautifully illustrated with photos of the finished product. I particularly like the 'fool proof tips' which Mary includes as a footnote to each dish. My favourites (so far!) have to be the Mackerel Pate with Lime-so quick and simple- and the Stem Ginger Shortbread, both of which turned out gratifyingly like the illustrations. However, the prize has to go to Mary's Beef Wellington with tarragon sauce - a new and delicious take on the traditional Wellington we are all familiar with. Viking chefs please take note- I would love to find this on your on board dinner menu one day!

Valerie Bradley

A beautifully presented and illustrated cookbook. Each recipe is well laid out and Mary gives a foolproof tip for each one. Almost all the recipes are accompanied by a colour photo of the finished product. The book is subdivided into 11 sections from 'Sharing platters and Nibbles' to 'the foolproof kitchen', plus a general introduction. However, as the servings range from 4 to 10 this is not really a cookbook for me, and they do not readily adapt themselves to 2 servings without a lot of fiddling about. My husband and I are both 77 years young and would have liked more in the way of less adventurous ingredients. I suspect that Mary has written this book more for the younger generation or those who do a lot of entertaining.

Elizabeth Kelso

Foolproof Cooking is the companion cookbook to Mary Berry’s popular TV series. In her introduction the author explains that cooking for friends and family should be “enjoyable, fun and rewarding “ and that her recipes are designed to be just that and foolproof as well. The book is arranged into convenient chapters which contain an excellent range of dishes, from weeknight dinners to dinner party suggestions. Her recipes have something to please all tastes from the classics such as Beef Wellington to a modern fresh Oriental Vegetable and Noodle Salad with Ginger to some truly tempting desserts. The book itself is well laid out with a comprehensive list of ingredients and easy to follow instructions, I especially liked Mary’s Foolproof Tips at the end of each recipe which give the less experienced cook the benefit of the authors’ expertise. The photography and layout of the book adds to the readers’ enjoyment making the dishes even more irresistible. All in all I would highly recommend Foolproof Cooking. Thank you Viking for giving me the opportunity to review this title.

Lesley Brunink

I love cooking so it was a pleasure to get this book to review. A sturdy hardback; it is well presented with a simple clear index directing you to the starter page of each section. A fuller, alphabetical index is at the back with a handy set of conversion table. Most recipes are accompanied by a clear photograph of what you are hoping to achieve. Particularly helpful when you are trying a new recipe for the first time. There is also details of what you can prepare in advance. Again very helpful if you are planning a meal for guests or family. As declared by the title most recipes are accompanied by some ‘foolproof’ tip to help ensure the recipe works well. Some of the tips are extremely useful ‘filling cracks with left over pastry after baking ‘blind’’ (pg. 180) for example. Each recipe also gives the number of servings the ingredients but with everyone concerned with calories some indication of calorie value per serving would be useful. Altogether this is a great starter cookbook and would be ideal as a wedding present/housewarming present, or even for students going off to university. Recipes are simple to follow, tips very useful and pictures a god-sent when starting out for the first time. Highly recommended.

Oonagh Beesley

What a wonderful surprise to receive the latest book from the Book Club. I have used Mary Berry cook books for many years now, the spine of one is falling apart very quickly. I had started to watch the T.V. series so the arrival of the book made the T.V. more enjoyable as I didn't need to take careful notes but could look the recipe up later. As usual her recipes on the whole are ones you will want to do over and over again and she supplies you with the skill to do this. The book covers all areas of cooking which means you would never have to buy another cookery book! Most recipes are illustrated with the final result and some are shown in stages and all have a Mary's Fool Proof Tip. Each section has Fool Proof tips relating to the section and there are12 different sections from soups, to main course, to desserts, cakes and biscuits to mention just a few. Thank you Mary Berry and Viking cruises for my new favourite book.

Brian Taylor

Possibly the best way to test out a book with this title is to send it for review to a ‘Can’t cook, won’t cook’ bloke like me! As far as I was concerned these were the criteria for success for this book – the recipes must look appetising, look easy on paper, be easy in practice, and be successful and tasty. So, was I tempted to try? Yes (the Mexican Tortilla Bake). Easy and successful? Yes. Tasty? Very yes. When my wife recovered from the shock of me cooking, she agreed. I should add that my wife is an expect cook and in fact used to lecture in Food Preparation at College. She tried and tested/tasted three other recipes (all in One Fish Gratin, Sweet Smoked Paprika Lamb and Rhubarb Eve’s Pudding). All get the thumbs up – high praise indeed! I might even try another recipe – can’t believe I just said that!

Robert Harris

This volume is as elegantly presented as the author herself. It is the latest offering from a writer who has produced approximately 80 books on cookery. The book is linked to Mary Berry’s latest television programme but includes many recipes that are not included in the series. As well as presenting classic recipes, simplified with her own touches, it is replete with handy tips and advice to make the cooking easier and more successful. In keeping with her previous volumes, it presents recipes in a way that is easy to follow and if followed will produce successful dishes. The book presents a large variety of recipes in sections ranging from nibbles to cakes and biscuits, with each section containing a double page spread of general foolproof tips. The extensive and lavish illustrations include step by step visual directions for complex processes. The photography is of a high quality and as such gives added value to the book. The table of contents and the index make it extremely easy to navigate. Anyone with an interest in cooking will find this book a delight.