When I heard that my friend Karen Burns-Booth was writing a book I instantly knew it would be good. With her prolific miscellany of beautiful recipes and anecdotes which we’ve come to love on Social Media and her website, a book by this lady was going to be something worth waiting for.
And of course it’s absolutely stunning. When my advance review copy arrived yesterday I let out a little squeal of delight as I ripped open the package. I couldn’t put it down and before I knew it I’d finished the introduction and I started to flick through the pages (all before I’d even taken my coat off!).
I met Karen and her husband four or five years ago. We had sold a house in the neighbouring village in South West France and Karen very kindly invited us for supper, having been to collect various furniture items we were selling. She took pity on us having no fridge or table and chairs and we spent a cosy evening in their lovely home. We were treated to a delicious meal of at least 2 recipes from her book, which I have since gone on to make many times. We enjoyed her cheese and vegetable savoury muffins (page 40 in the book) and delicious Bacon, Potato & Corn Chowder (page 81), and my interest and love of everything Karen does had begun!
Karen has led a very interesting life, full of different counties and cultures but all deeply connected to food. This book is part memoir, part biography and totally absorbing as a cookery book, as every recipe has an introduction and words about why it features in the collection.
Karen has created an imaginative narrative for her book, choosing clever sections to group sections together, so we find ‘Beginnings & In-Betweens – Soups, Starters and Snacks’ and ‘Middlings’ followed by ‘A Bit on the Side – Salads & Accompaniments’ and ‘Under Cover & Expose – Pies, Pasties and Tarts’. The structure of the book is a story in itself, and adds to the story telling feeling which runs through the pages.
Through her travels and time living in various interesting countries, Karen brings us dishes from Asia, South Africa, France and the U.K., She loves curries and soups, bakes and pies, cakes and preserves as well as some more exotic ideas, but the same is true for every page in the book – all the recipes are realistic and easy to follow. You can almost hear her voice from the clear and simple to use methods. I feel like she is on a par with the likes of Domestic Goddesses such as Mary Berry and Delia Smith – I have so much faith in her recipes.
A very personal reference is made many times to Karen’s dear parents who she sadly lost recently but played such a significant part in her life and in this book. Memories and recipes from her mother, grandmother and even her daughter feature throughout the book and with the dedication at the beginning to her parents, you can feel the love which has gone into the pages. It’s a fitting tribute to them.
One of my favourite things about the book is the photography and styling. Produced, styled and photographed by Karen, every page is a delight for the eyes. We are used to following daily meals, recipes and travels on her Instagram feed, but to have the recipes in one collection is fantastic.
If I could choose my favourite recipe from the book (this is virtually impossible!), it would have to be the Marinated Goats’ Cheese (page 86). I was amused to read in the introduction to this recipe that the demand for it to appear in the book was unpresidented! Many people asked Karen to make sure it featured in her book, and here it is. I can thoroughly recommend this as it’s a sure guest pleaser.
And so to deciding what to make next from this wonderful selection of recipes. The choice is difficult, but whatever I choose – one thing is certain – the recipe will be fantastic and a pleasure to make. I’m looking forward to discovering this culinary notebook.
This review is my own and I was not paid to write this. I was sent a review copy of the book by the author