Cover art for Lateral Cooking
Bloomsbury, October 2018
Hardcover, 612 pages
26.5cm × 17cm

Lateral Cooking Foreword by Yotam Ottolenghi

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A ground-breaking book, designed to help creative cooks develop their own recipes, from the bestselling author of The Flavour Thesaurus. One dish leads to another...

Lateral Cooking is, in a sense, the 'method' companion to its bestselling predecessor, The Flavour Thesaurus - and is just as useful, ingeniously organised and enjoyable to read.

The book is divided into 12 chapters, each covering a basic culinary category, such as 'Bread', 'Sauces' or 'Custard'.

The recipes in each chapter are then arranged on a continuum, the transition from one recipe to another generally amounting to a tweak or two in the method or ingredients. Which is to say, one dish leads to another: once you've got the hang of flatbreads, for instance, then its neighbouring dishes on the continuum (crackers, soda bread, scones) will involve the easiest and most intuitive adjustment. The result is greater creativity in the kitchen: Lateral Cooking encourages improvisation, resourcefulness, and, ultimately, the knowledge and confidence to cook by heart.

Lateral Cooking is essentially a practical book, but like The Flavour Thesaurus it's also a highly enjoyable read. The 'Flavours & Variations' sections, for example, draw widely on culinary science, history, ideas from professional kitchens, observations by renowned food writers and personal recollection. Entertaining, opinionated and inspirational, Lateral Cooking will have you torn between donning your apron and settling back in a comfortable chair.

Recommended by Bill

Bill is the Buyer for Boffins, so blame him when you don’t find the book you want. He reads widely, particularly non-fiction, and reviews books monthly on Wednesdays with Gareth Parker on radio station 6PR.

Some years ago, Niki Segnet wrote a book called The Flavour Thesaurus – as it sounds, a compendium of food flavour pairings which has become a standby of both chefs and home cooks. Now she has produced an equally tantalising companion volume, designed to help creative cooks develop their own recipes. Don’t’ be scared off by this. The framework is a set of basic recipes which, when you’re familiar with them, become infinitely adaptable according to what’s in your fridge or what’s in season, or what you feel like making. Usually it just involves a tweak or two in the method or the ingredients. To give an example, if you can get your head around flatbreads then the book will take you along the continuum – crackers, soda bread, scones and their variations and how to improvise on the basic recipes. Niki’s writing is entertaining and inspirational, delightfully opinionated, and always draws on her deep knowledge of culinary science and history. Even Yotam Ottolenghi is raving about this book, and he has said “as a cookery writer, I am pretty jealous of this achievement”.

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