Books for Cooks

26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson

26 Grains, that posh porridge shop in Neal’s Yard has released a cookbook.. and it’s not more than just a book of overnight oats.

26 Grains Alex Hely-Hutchinson

26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchinson, photographed on my Ikea rug for some added hipster texture.

Honestly, I can’t believe I bought a cookbook as virtuous sounding as Alex Hely Hutchinson’s 26 Grains. Not only bought, got excited for. The cover has gushing praise from Deliciously Ella who is far too virtuous for me. I had a brief foray into the clean-eating brigade thanks to the sugar-free Sarah Wilson. I used leek instead of lasagne; cashews instead of cream cheese and coconut oil instead of butter. Dark days indeed. 26 Grains’ stylish cover photo of a pretty, 20 something white girl fits the now archetypal clean-eating guru mold. I was already regretting being swept away with the hype.. the Neal’s Yard café and the 50k instagram followers. My cookbook collecting compulsion was in full swing when Amazon did an introductory offer for the book and I succumbed to purchase. Once it arrived, I had a flick through but the 26 Grains cookbook ended up on my dusty ‘healthy’ shelf. Oddly, I think I even recommended the book to people before I’d read it, maybe to hide my internalised shame at buying it in the first case. Was I too ‘dirty’? Too chubby? Too male? Who knows. I did eventually read it though..

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. Loads of the recipes caught my eye and I found myself bookmarking quite a few recipes. They weren’t all sparrow like portions either, I was heartily satisfied by most of the portioning. The Roasted Sesame Veg with Pearl Barley and Cinnamon Dressing is particularly delicious. Equally, the Broccolli Soup with Popped Black Rice and Crispy Kale was also delicious. Of course my favourite so far is the Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Crispy Brown Rice and Egg, but that’s a given. Zesty, garlicky, roasted brassicas are my FAVOURITE. I’ve so far picked some of the more pedestrian recipes. I don’t have a lot of the rarer grains in my bursting store cupboards and I have no room for them so I’ve stuck with what I’ve got.

I’m also yet to try a single bowl of porridge from 26 Grains. A book by a woman who rose to fame selling porridge, and I’ve not cooked anything from the Breakfast section. This is going to be rectified soon – even if it means having porridge for dinner. In the meantime, I’ve currently got a batch of the Roasted Veg and Pearl Barley cooking ready for packed lunches – honestly, it’s that tasty.

So far, so good. Apparently I should leave prejudice to Elizabeth Bennett when it comes to cookbooks. In the case of 26 Grains, I’ll have to eat my words (and my grains).