Table Manners The Cookbook review: ‘What it lacks in cheffy precision, it makes up for in damned good food’ –

Posted By on March 30, 2020

If you havent heard of Table Manners, what planet have you been living on? Three years ago, the singer Jessie Ware launched a podcast with her mum, Lennie. Since then, it has been downloaded 80million times, becoming a global phenomenon in the process.

The format is a winner: mother and daughter (mostly mother) cook up a Friday night dinner for a famous guest Ed Sheeran, Sadiq Khan, Yotam Ottolenghi bickerand drink (mostly daughter) and create a convivial atmosphere listeners wish they could take part in. In the lockdown, they are now serving virtual dinners.

Table Manners: The Cookbook (Ebury, 22) is filled with favourites from the show, such as Lady Gagas gefilte fish. The book has plenty of stories to appeal to its core audience, but sufficient variety and enticing recipes for those who havent heard the podcast.

Neither Ware is a professional cook or chef, which places this in the realm of family cookbook. Often, these can be lovely reads, if a little light on culinary interest. Not here. There are six main sections, covering easy meals, Jewish classics, summer holiday favourites (mostly reflecting their love of Greece), Chrismukkah, and desserts.

Chicken soup with matzo balls, arguably the star dish of the Ashkenazi cooking pantheon, makes a regular appearance on the podcast. Their guests love it, but doesnt every mother make the best version? I gave it a go before the crisis hit.

A simple, if time-consuming, dish. Everyone has their version; this one is legendary. Chicken thighs and drumsticks simmer for hours, with onions (skin on, for a broth with a darker hue), leeks, carrots, celery and swede. The soup was beautifully sweet, fatty, and satisfying possibly the best chicken soup Ive had. Sorry, Mum. The matzo balls were a touch stodgy, but in the most comforting of ways.

If a cookbook is for expanding culinary horizons, what could be more illuminatory than learning you can shove a whole Boursin cheese between a chickens skin and flesh? A wonderfully gluttonous recipe, one that produces a beautifully tender roast (essentially a massive chicken Kiev), though I had to adjust timings.

A quick and easy, cheats ice cream, made from whipping up double cream, condensed milk, coffee and Ferrero Rocher as rich and delicious as it sounds, with the crunch from the chocolate elevating the dessert.

Every time I see a family cookery book, I worry itll read like one long in-joke. But the podcast has, in effect, created a big family of devotees. That doesnt guarantee success, however. The book isnt perfect (it doesnt always say whether to peel veg, for example). But what it lacks in cheffy precision, it makes up for in humour and damned good food.

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Table Manners The Cookbook review: 'What it lacks in cheffy precision, it makes up for in damned good food' -

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