Food & Drink

Four Seasons Cookery Book by Margaret Costa

A classic in contemporary clothing.

The Four Seasons Cookery Book was first published in 1970 and through its various reprints, Margaret Costa's ever useful and much read book has been heralded a classic. Now the book is in its new clothing fit for contemporary cooks, Grub Street is calling it a timeless classic, which indeed it is.

Margaret Costa was the mother of many a food writer. She broke away from the Cordon Bleu style of cooking and gave her recipes life, urging her readers to do the same. And of course we too have come full circle as nowadays, more so than ever, we cook with the seasons. Farmers’ markets and locally grown produce are readily available and with consumers conscious of their carbon footprints, this is the type of book that we should learn from.

Some of our finest food writers sing its praises with Nigel Slater declaring that if he were only allowed one cookbook, Four Seasons would be his choice. Nigella Lawson says, 'This is a book no cook should be able to do without.' These are extraordinary declamations for a book written in 1970. It has stood the test of time. The influence of some of our older cookery writers can be very underestimated by contemporary amateur cooks, who only look at present publications. It is only when you delve back in time and find that there are a series of writers who have shaped the culinary tastes of today and Margaret Costa is one of them.

The recipes are still very much in tune with today's eating although there is a lavish use of cream and it might be judicious to substitute crème fraîche in some recipes. The recipes, organised seasonally, are accessible and within each season, the themed chapters concentrate on specific ingredients or courses, such as olives, comforting breakfasts or proper puddings.

The Four Seasons Cookery Book is a must for any serious cookbook collection. Costa's writing is still inspiring cooks and if you haven’t got a copy yet, we suggest you do. We all have a history and somebody we have learned from. Although Margaret Costa died in 1999, this new edition keeps her memory alive.

Publication Details:
364 pp. £16.99.
ISBN 97819065020508. Published by Grub Street.

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