TikTok star Poppy Cooks has launched her debut cookbook. Food&Drink editor Cara-Louise is here to share her thoughts on this exciting new release
I was lucky enough to interview the lovely Poppy Cooks at the end of August 2021, and receive a copy of her new cookbook, which I felt needed a review too.
Poppy O’Toole (a.k.a Poppy Cooks) is a Michelin-trained chef who spent a decade of her life in professional kitchens. However, the first lockdown left Poppy without a job so she turned to TikTok to teach others, particularly young people, how to cook simple but delicious food – particularly potatoes.
This is Poppy’s first cookbook which she has wanted to write since she was a child, and hopefully this is the first of many.
Poppy Cooks: The Food You Need is unlike any other cookbook I have read. Poppy makes her recipes accessible to people of any age and cooking ability. It is quite personal at the start, when Poppy introduces her cooking journey, and it is laid out in a rather unusual way compared to most cookbooks. Poppy wants to ‘revolutionize how we look at food’ by creating core recipes that provide everything you need for your daily meals.
When you first open the cookbook, you will be greeted with a slightly lengthy but enjoyable introduction, which introduces Poppy and her love for food and cooking. It is inspiring to see how much Poppy’s life has changed over the year and the effect that lockdown has had on her career, just like it did for many other people. It seems to have positively changed Poppy’s life, which is what makes the introduction such a motivating piece to read before delving into the recipes. For anyone aspiring to be a chef or just wanting to get better at cooking, this introduction really is the perfect way to get you in the mood to cook something new.
All her recipes in each section build upon each other to create different platforms to which you can take your dishes. Thus, in each chapter, there are five different types of recipes:
The Core – This is the fundamental recipe that you can use in many different ways, in different recipes. This is usually a sauce or pastry.
The Staple – This is a go-to recipe which uses the core recipe.
The Brunch – This reinvents the core to create the perfect brunch dish to fill all your needs.
The Potato – This is Poppy’s signature dish, in which the core recipe will come together with potatoes.
The Fancy AF – This is a fancier dish which requires slightly more attention, but as Poppy says, it will ‘blow your family and friends’ socks off.’
This layout makes it incredibly accessible to people who either want a simple or more complex recipe. It also really helps build core cooking skills. I cannot say that I have seen many recipe books that focus on a core skill or take the time to show how to make sauces separately outside of a dish, which is what makes this book enthrallingly unique.
Each recipe includes the title, a write up about the food/dish, serving quantity, ingredients and then the method. Poppy also includes a chef’s tip which is useful, especially for recipes that acquire more delicacy. All of Poppy’s recipes include a picture of the dish, which is also another distinctive bonus about this book. It is too often I will find a recipe I like that does not include a photo, which, as I am sure many will feel, can be annoying when you want to make sure it has turned out how it should look!
Overall, there are 12 different chapters: Tomato Sauce, White Sauce, Flat Bread, Emulsions, Dressings, Batter Up, Savoury Pastry, Confit Garlic, Up Your Roast, Sweet Pastry, Custard, and Meringue.
To give an example of some of the recipes included, for the Savoury Pastry section, the core recipe is a ‘Shortcrust Pastry’, the staple is a ‘Cheese and Onion Pie’, the brunch is a ‘Brekkie Quiche’, the potato is ‘Bombay Potato Pasties’, and the Fancy Af is a ‘Stroganoff Pie.’
Poppy manages to create a good balance between meat and vegetarian friendly dishes in this cookbook. Additionally, you could easily adapt any of the recipes to fit your dietary needs or add your own twist.
I think all students need a book like this as it is full of unique and tempting recipes. Its layout is easy to read and accessible to any one who just wants to learn how to cook something different.
Poppy Cooks: The Food You Need is out 16th September, and will be available to buy via Bloomsbury, Amazon and all good bookshops.
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