Food & Drink: Cook Book of the Week

FRESH IN AUTUMN: Alastair Hendy, Ryland Peters & Small, pounds 12.99, 80pp
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The Independent Culture
THERE IS a certain type of cookbook that is designed to tempt browsers and present-givers. Filled with bright photographs of stylish food, it is neither too thick, nor too thin to instil guilt if you don't use it once you get it home. Its recipes always look reassuringly simple, yet chic. It does not matter that you live on take-aways, only cook once a year, or live on a student grant - somehow these sort of books find their way into your kitchen.

Publishers dream of producing such books, so Ryland, Peters & Small must be feeling very happy that it commissioned Alastair Hendy to write four of them - each based around a season.

His latest, Fresh in Autumn, follows Fresh in Spring and Fresh in Summer.

Each book is divided into five prime ingredients and contains 30 recipes. Fresh in Summer, for example, covers tomatoes, corn, aubergines, peaches and berries, while Fresh in Autumn focuses on squash, nuts, mushrooms, apples and pears.

Every recipe is accompanied by an appetising photograph, so inevitably you have a sense of the season as you flick through the pages.

Food writer and stylist Alastair Hendy has a reputation within the food world for creating incredibly beautiful dishes, often with an oriental twist, that take considerable time and effort. Here he has radically simplified his approach so that his recipes are accessible to those with different levels of culinary ability. In other words, few people would be daunted by making pumpkin coconut curry or roasted mushrooms with horseradish mascarpone. It takes a little more confidence, however, to cook his poached, stuffed pears coated in chocolate.

The writing is on the frothy side, but these are not the sort of books you buy to learn the A-Z of cooking. They are perfect for anyone needing fresh inspiration.

Sybil Kapoor