For our anniversary, my dear boyfriend got me the best gift ever: Delia Smith's How to Cook. He was afraid I would take it the wrong way (How to cook???? What are you trying to say?!) But I honestly thought it was a great gift and leafing through the books showed that this isn't exactly a book for beginners!
There are 3 volumes that cover a variety of topics. The books are divided into sections like eggs, pasta, potatoes, etc. Each section goes from simple recipes (how to boil an egg), to more complex (Eggs en cocotte with porcini mushrooms).
It's an amazing encyclopedic series in which Delia (the British authority on everything and anything food related) really details how to make... pretty much everything, and why to do it that way. She has a very easy writing style: authoritative but endearing at the same time. She writes knowledgeably but adds anecdotes and personal touches to make the book more approachable.
The first recipe we chose were Delia's roast potatoes. Luckily, she has a great website where you can find almost all of the recipes that are in the books, so I'll add a link to the recipe I used so that you can try it as well.
I know what you're thinking! Roast potatoes... Right.... potatoes, oil, oven, how can you go wrong? No no no... These are DELIA roast potatoes. You've never had roast potatoes unless you've had it this way, and once you have, you will never go back. These were by far the best potatoes I have ever had. Crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. They also get a beautiful golden colour on the outside that's hard to beat.
The recipe seems quite daunting as it has a lot of steps, but they are really worth it and aren't really that difficult once you read it through. It's well worth the extra effort! The potatoes do take about an hour to make, so they may be more of a weekend recipe, for when you have extra time, or for more special occasions.
I pretty much followed the recipe word for word, with the exception of the saffron (see Notes below) as it was my first time making them, but would probably use canola oil in the future (simple personal preference) and omit the salt (again, for personal (health) reasons). I also used baby potatoes, instead of larger ones and just halved them.
If you're interested in these Delia books, Canadian readers should be warned: the books are British which means the ingredients are usually in weights, as is mostly used in Europe (e.g. 150g plain flour). She also gives the equivalent in ounces for American readers (150g plain flour = 5 oz), but Canadians have been kind of left in the dust. So make sure to get a good kitchen scale - they are quite handy to have around anyways.
She also uses certain measures and ingredients which may seem a bit odd to north american readers (e.g. dessertspoon and demerara sugar), but quick googling will help with the odd measures and most well stocked grocery stores will keep you in action.
The recipe in the book was for saffron roast potatoes. As I wanted to serve them with a marinated steak and marinated grilled vegetables, I preferred to keep them plain and simply omitted the saffron. They were just as delicious plain and I imagine you could use almost any spice of herb to flavour them in relation to what you're pairing them with.