When I was growing up, my mother used to tell me that the hardest thing about cooking for a family of four was not the actual cooking, but deciding what to have for tea in the first place. As a parent working full-time, I know now how right she was. Jenny Kay and Elinor Storkey offer solutions to that problem with Fuss-Free Suppers, designed to provide quick and relatively easy inspiration when takeaways or beans on toast are beckoning.
This is a South African book, with some of the recipes having being published previously in the Angela Day column in The Star, so some of the terms and ingredients may be unfamiliar to New Zealanders. Don’t let it put you off though, I quickly worked out that brinjal is aubergine, and Wikipedia taught me that bobotie is a traditional South African dish, usually made with spiced mince and an egg topping, although a lentil version is offered here.
Generally all the ingredients will be familiar and easily accessible to New Zealand cooks with a well-stocked supermarket, with the possible exception of hake, which is generally caught in New Zealand as a by-catch to hoki – if buying from a fish shop and it’s not available, ask what a good substitute might be; it’s described as having moist, white flesh.
The book has a helpful “what to keep in your pantry” section at the beginning, so that you have everything on hand to get creating. Recipes are divided by meat type or vegetarian, with pizza and pasta having its own section.
Most recipes have their own photograph, and the food styling is much more “decent home cook” than Michelin-starred chef, which is helpful when you’re time poor and low on ideas – the food looks accessible, rather than intimidating. Having cooked the lentil cottage pie and the chicken breasts stuffed with goat’s cheese and herbs, I can attest to the tastiness and ease of preparation.
I’m inclined to use this book for last minute weeknight dinners, and it sits alongside Alison Holst and Donna Hay on my cookbook shelf for those nights when I simply can’t think of what to cook that we haven’t already had a few times in the last month. If that sounds a bit like you too, I recommend it as a useful addition to your kitchen arsenal.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
by Jenny Kay and Elinor Storke
Published by Struik Lifestyle, Capetown (New Holland)