The Secret Garden Cookbook Review

The Secret Garden Cookbook Review

Title: The Secret Garden Cookbook, Newly Revised Edition: Inspiring Recipes from the Magical World of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden
Author: Amy Cotler
Published: January 14, 2020, Harvard Common Press
No. of Pages: 112
Cover Price: $19.95 Hardcover

Almost every child grew up reading children’s classics, such as The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Not only do these books have great storylines that children and adults enjoy (and remember forever), but the mention of food that the characters are eating during the period (Victorian, in this case) makes the books come alive. Kids who love food probably dream about eating those foods, and Amy Cotler, a professional chef and food writer, has memorialized some of the foods from the novel in a delightful cookbook, The Secret Garden Cookbook, Newly Revised Edition: Inspiring Recipes from the Magical World of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. Reading this cookbook brings back childhood memories, and cooking from this cookbook makes it possible to put oneself into the roles of favorite characters while experiencing their culinary experiences.
There are charming introductions to each chapter that explain the mores of the day, and the differences between what the well-to-do characters are eating and those who are fairly poor are eating. While the differences are significant, the recipes for both rich and poor are very appealing. The recipes are decidedly English, and some are even classics, such as Welsh Rabbit, Savory Muffins Spiked with Cheddar Cheese (we would call these biscuits which are easy to make and very good), Kedgeree, and Cornish Pasties. Toffee Pudding is still popular in England today, and Cotler’s recipe is worth making. Since Mary’s childhood was partly spent in India, there are also recipes with an Indian influence, such as Mulligatawny Soup which is a family favorite.

The recipes are easy-to-follow and call for common ingredients. Included are recipes for Garden Picnics, English teas, Yorkshire Breakfast, as well as Cottage Food from Dickon’s family (The sticky Gingerbread Parkin is especially appealing). Recipes from the kitchen garden are worth looking at also. The recipes tried so far have turned out perfectly.

There are two negatives: One, all of the dishes aren’t pictured; however the photographs that are included are excellent, and Two, the book only includes 50 recipes and the $19.95 price tag is a bit steep for a book with only 112 pages.

Anyone who enjoys classic books and loves the food references in them will enjoy this fun cookbook. Cotler has done an excellent job of capturing the aura of the time period and the novel.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.

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