There’s something heartwarming about a cookbook that has a picture of the author and her dog on the back cover with the notation, “my best mate Ebony and myself Gail Allen, we always go everywhere.” If the best mate doesn’t tip you off that Allen is Australian, then the recipes for such dishes as Australian Barramundi, surely will.
Allen covers far more than Australian recipes in this extensive collection, which includes favorites from many countries. However, only the most patient professional cook could untangle her syntax, grammar and punctuation, which would be foreign in any land. For the recipe called “Roast Bombay potatoes,” the ingredients call for “100 Medium Potatoes” and “Chicken salt shaker.” Her instructions read in part: “Place in frying basket and deep fry until gold brown, drain well and tip service dishes.”
As with many cookbooks intended for professionals, the recipes are measured in grams, milliliters and so forth, and she includes instructions on kitchen management, ordering food, chill temperatures and the like. Unfortunately, her advice has the same issues as her recipes: any wisdom about catering is buried in a minefield of improper grammar. For example: “Moist sandwiches can lose it [sic] shape and texture, when dry and difficult to swallow, for Instance, used slices of tomato or pickle will prevent it [sic] being dry and also add interest.”
Allen gets points for writing a comprehensive cookbook that’s fine to peruse for ideas, including as it does everything from fish chowder to prime rib to chocolate mousse – but there are other professional cookbooks that are easy to decipher and do it so much better.