A favorite volume from one of the best food writers out there. This was the first Nigel Slater book I ever purchased, years ago, and it remains top-of-shelf. His hearty, big-flavored recipes are often accompanied by photographs in harmony with his writing style - personal, unpretentious, direct, and hard to turn away from. If you don't know Nigel Slater (he's from the UK), you should, and this book is a great place to start.
I should also point to his column on the Guardian UK site.
I am a Nigel fan through and through........what I like about this book, is that at the end of the recipes he gives notes and pointers on how you might change or tweak the recipe slightly next time eg. his recipe for a 'Simple cake to serve with summer fruit' is followed with notes on how to next time make it a hazelnut cake, an orange cake, a cake flavoured with orange water etc.....so it is like getting bonus recipes with each recipe!
Nigel is always encouraging and wants you to create food that you enjoy. In much the same way that Jamie Oliver presents his books, this book offers a more relaxed approach which allows the reader to to grow in their cooking and to learn to cook by instinct rather than rigidly following a recipe. For this reason among others, I think this is a terrific book for people starting out cooking or for people who are a little apprehensive in the kitchen and get twitchy if they are half a garlic clove short of the recipe specified amount.....
The oil-spattered, slightly stuck-together pages are a testament to how I use the book - yes, I actually cook from it. Nigel's chicken with garlic is utterly delicious. There's nothing obviously "clever" about his cooking, but what makes him wonderful is that he writes about food that you actually want to cook - and do.
Nigel's writing is funny, warm, both reverent and irreverent and completely from the heart. He calls himself a cook, rather than a chef, and that's exactly what I love about him. Unpretentious, witty, supportive to those who are a tad doubtful as to their culinary skills. His recipes aren't about looking beautiful on the plate - although they usually are - they are about taste.
The first sentence of the book is this, "I want to tell you about the pleasure, the sheer unbridled joy of cooking without a recipe." The book delivers on the promise. Appetite is an authentic, creative, unstructured approach to making excellent food without exact measurements but with guidance, ideas, and rules of thumb. The results are some of the best comfort food --simple and excellent --that you'll ever find in the British isles. (No British food jokes, please.) The book focuses on creating main courses for dinner, combining fresh ingredients and pantry staples in very satisfying ways.
Note that this cookbook slants towards meat recipes. If you are a vegetarian, I recommend starting with his book Tender, which centers on vegetables. And all of Slater's cookbooks have a double benefit: the food is great and the writing is fantastic.
I adore this book, though oddly I never cook from it. I read it cover-to-cover at an important stage in my culinary development, and I loved how he made everything simple and accessible. The organizational method "in the mood for" is brilliant, and this is perhaps my favorite food photography of all time...everything is so lively and active. I also think Nigel writes wonderful recipes. His brownies are my favorite ever.