Eyvind Hellstrøm and partner Anita Rennan came out last year with the rock-solid and well-composed cookbook «Hellstrøm’s secrets».
My biggest objection to it: The lack of vegetarian and vegetable-focused recipes.
This year, they fill the void with a kind of sequel, namely “Hellstrøm’s green secrets”, an entire book dedicated to so-called “green recipes”.
There is no doubt that Hellstrøm is a very good cook and communicator. With a long career as a Michelin chef, cookbook author and host of various food programs on TV, there are few who have equal weight and competence.
This is always reflected in his cookbooks and his latest is no exception.
Falling between two chairs
The cookbook increases to provide recipes that are simple and straightforward, with an emphasis on good ingredients and pure flavors. It aims to show that “green dishes” can be easy to make while providing exciting taste experiences.
But, the dishes are often either for simple, on the verge of boring, or they are exciting, but require ingredients that are difficult to obtain in addition to great time effort.
It’s not that the cookbook does not occasionally have very good recipes, it’s just that they drown in inaccessibility or other less interesting recipes.
Could have gone further
Hellstrøm never claims that this is a vegetarian or vegan cookbook, but when it is presented as a “green cookbook” I am still a little disappointed that it does not dare to go a little further in the exploration of plant-based dishes.
It is not uncommon for me to find either seafood or meat in the recipes. There are also very few of the recipes that are completely vegan.
When there are so many exciting vegetarian and vegan alternatives both online and on the cookbook shelf, I think “Hellstrøm’s green secrets”, as a cookbook in itself, become superfluous.
Apart from some very nice pictures at the very beginning, the cookbook is experienced as a streamlined form. It could have benefited from breaking up the design a bit.
I would like to see more of Hellstrøm and Rennan in between the recipes. Either in the form of pictures of cooking or of short texts for the recipes.
And I want to know where the idea of having fried banana on celery root soup came from (which works surprisingly well by the way), and why he has anchovies and raisins in Samosa, for example.
We get some short deposits of facts from time to time, but it’s not enough to make me feel ser Eyvind Hellstrøm through the book.
Using a cookbook is a two-part affair for me. On the one hand, I want good recipes and help to get better in the kitchen, but on the other hand, the equally important side, I want to get closer to my own passion for food through the cookbook author’s passion.
So when the recipes only occasionally impress, and I feel that the book is distanced from the author, then “Hellstrøm’s green secrets” do not hit me completely.
All reviews and recommendations from NRK can be found at nrk.no/reviews.