Rye Cookbook Club - The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack
Where did February go? Seriously, it feels like we only just announced the start of our cookbook club and here we are, ringing in the next one.
But first, let’s talk about Izy…
How did you all get on?
I’m going to put it out there and say this is has been one of my favourite books to cook from for a while. Why? Because it’s so easy! And that’s not a negative in the slightest. Let me explain…
It’s realistic, practical and accessible. All of the ingredients Izy uses are things you can pick up at your local supermarket and I found that most of the recipes I tried were adaptable to what I already had at home. Izy promises to keep things affordable (she is a student after all) and because all of the recipes are vegetarian (with suggestions of meaty additions if that’s what your heart desires) she does stick to her word.
In keeping with this, Izy’s all about avoiding waste, something I’m wholeheartedly on board with. Below each recipe she includes a section of ‘leftover’ ingredients, which correlates to a table at the back of the book where she recommends how to use up that stray piece of cheese/half a can of beans/ lone banana. It’s such a simple idea (and, I think, one that more cookbooks should include) and it works particularly well because of the fact that Izy tends to use the same ingredients again and again throughout the book.
Bananas, peas, potatoes, beans, cauliflower, eggs… these are not obscure, Ottolenghi-style ingredients that you’ll spend a small fortune on, use once then leave to gather dust in back of the cupboard. They’re basic, everyday foods that, with a little guidance, can be turned into exciting and nutritious meals. And that’s where Izy comes in; showing us how to turn the uninspiring and mundane into something you actually want to eat.
Oats (one of the cheapest ingredients you can get your hands on) are used in both sweet and savoury recipes. The oat squares, soaked in sweet coconut milk and topped with berry compote make a satisfying snack or breakfast on-the-go, as does the oaty snack cake which has a whole can of chickpeas in it, making it deliciously dense and probably the most nutritious cake in the world. Chickpeas are another one that crop up left, right and centre, bulking out salads, taking the staring role in a trio of stews, mingling with a medley of veg in frittatas and being mashed into a ‘falafel smash’ to top flatbreads.
Being a student, Izy is also clearly aware of everyday time pressures. All of the recipes are straightforward with just a handful of steps and can be on the table in an hour or so. This makes them perfect for weekdays, lazy evenings and whenever you’re feeling a little hangry (aka most of the time).
The first recipe I cooked was the miso aubergine. I’ve made my fair share of miso aubergine but this has to be the one that requires the least effort. The walnuts were a welcome new addition, providing that all important crunch, and if you bulk it out with some rice you have yourself a fulfilling meat-free dinner in 45 minutes (with leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch- always a bonus).
The spanakopita quesadillas (all the flavour of Greek pie without the faff of the pastry) and the ‘chorizo’ dip (delish) are two more winners and if you’re craving something sweet, the single serve cookie with a dollop of ice cream is a dream; soft, gooey, barely cooked dough that’s ready in 6 minutes. And I can’t forget to mention the ‘fudge cake’ that’s made from peanut butter, carrot and cocoa, which is really quite addictive.
There are still many recipes on my ‘to-make’ list: caramelised apple and pecan bread pudding, lentil and fennel ragu and sweet potato galette, to name a few.
This isn’t a cookbook where you’ll learn specialist skills and traditional techniques. It’s a book of fresh ideas that will encourage you to finally tackle that head of broccoli that’s been staring at you sadly for two weeks.
For anyone who finds the kitchen daunting or who complains of lack of time, money or inspiration, Izy’s lighthearted, affordable, no-nonsense approach will give you that little motivational nudge you need to get going… there really is no excuse.
This book is perfect for anyone new to cooking, starting out as a veggie or trying to eat well and up their veg intake. But it’s also for anyone who wants tasty, unfussy food quickly, without breaking the bank and without putting in too much effort, and isn’t that everyone?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the book below.
Our next book that we’ll be cooking from throughout March will be anther ode to veggies: Anna Jones ‘A Modern Cook’s Year’. Good luck, and see you in April. Make sure to tag us in your creations and use the #ryecookbookclub