Cook Book of the Week: Cook At Home With Peter Gordon Hodder and Stoughton, pounds 25, 208pp

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The Independent Culture
LITERARY AGENTS are very fond of dropping pearls of wisdom to their authors. One favourite gem for food writers is that "the second book is the hardest to write".

True, if your first book is a roaring success - as was the case with Peter Gordon's The Sugar Club Cookbook. After all, most chef-authors choose their favourite restaurant recipes for their first book.

Peter Gordon has cleverly decided to get round the problem by ostensibly selecting recipes from his domestic and private life. His chapters cover subjects like Breakfast, Picnics, Left Overs, and Canapes & Nibbles.

Voila! A seductive, glossy second book and a happy agent. Written in the same chatty style as his first, you will be left in no doubt as to his Antipodean roots or the culinary prowess of his family and his friends. I wish that my guests woke me to the smell of freshly baked muffins!

Nevertheless, few other chefs would let themselves be photographed in their dressing gown - or admit to owning two tea trolleys.

His affection for exotic ingredients remains - you'll find recipes that need soba noodles, dried sea weed, green mangoes, spring roll wrappers, fish sauce and tamarind - but not as many recipes as in his first book.

The recipes have also subtly changed. Earthier flavours predominate - roast baby aubergines with spiced yoghurt and mint, for example, or apple, almond and Stilton tart.

Yet Peter Gordon is at his pan-Pacific best in the chapters he devotes to Barbecue Parties and Dinner Parties. In them you will find such delights as squid in sweet soy with sweet potato and bok choy, or ginger-marinated pork salad with green tea noodles, shiitake mushrooms and sesame.

The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, despite the fact that the measurements have fallen prey to "design".

Keen cooks will find much to engage them in its pages.

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