August 2, 2018 by Mike Madden
Cooking On Kindle
This article first appeared in the High Peak Review.
Cooking On Kindle – Not As Mad As It Sounds
High Peak author Michael Madden wanted to bring order to his chaotic kitchen and decided to put all of his most often used recipes in one place, on his Kindle.
A recent search for the term “Cookery Book” in the Amazon.co.uk Kindle store revealed a total of 724 matches. The same search extended to “All Departments” revealed in excess of 90,000 matches. This could just be because the medium of the Kindle is not really appropriate for books that revel in the detail of mouthwatering pictures, however, High Peak author Michael Madden can see several advantages of the Kindle over traditional printed books.
“My kitchen is full of cookery books. There are region specific ones, celebrity television chef ones, food specific ones, curry is a particular favourite, and even one that explains how to catch, kill, hang and cook a possum! Added to this are a number of recipe cards that have fallen out of magazines, extracts from newspapers and periodicals, and hand written recipes passed down through the generations,” he explained at the launch of his new book Mmm…No1…Cookbook.
“I am a particularly messy cook, and many of my cookery books have pages stuck together, whilst several of the magazine pages are torn and faded. Mmm…No1…Cookbook was conceived to bring some sort of order to my often chaotic kitchen, by putting all of my most often used recipes in the same place, on the Kindle,” he continued.
Oddly enough, the book is also available in paperback, as to make it available for sale in the Kindle store it needed to have an authentic book cover. Michael’s wife, Sally, is a keen amateur photographer, and she provided the cover shot and design. “Michael cooked one of our favourite dishes, paella, and we dressed it up with Spanish wine, Mediterranean bread, and a few other props,” said Sally. “I got some excellent pictures, and we chose the best one for the cover, then we had a great afternoon eating the paella and drinking the wine!”
Michael continued the story. “I have a number of staple dishes that I cook regularly, including soups, starters, main meals, curries and desserts, and I can adapt these for a little variation as I choose. Speed is of the essence, and cutting corners is key, especially when I have a table full of hungry mouths to feed. So, for instance, in some cases I use powdered rather than fresh ginger, and I sometimes use garlic paste rather than fresh cloves, with the added advantage of not having to clean the garlic press!”
The advertising strapline for the book is “Every Day Cooking For Every Day lives”, a line that the author sees as wholly appropriate. “There is very little technical cooking in these recipes, although there is sometimes a little preparation required in advance, such as marinating chicken overnight,” he explained.
But why the Kindle? Michael elucidated further, “a Kindle is a very versatile tool, and not just for every day reading. Although there are not generally any pictures on the standard Kindle, most people will already know what the finished dishes should look like, and a Kindle is likely to be treated with a lot more care than a newspaper cutting. Another advantage of the Kindle is that it provides a ready made list of ingredients that can be taken shopping.”
The book was launched on 9th May 2012, and the first few hours were very interesting. “It first showed up on the Amazon Kindle UK site at number 100 in Food & Drink, just behind Gordon Ramsey,” explained Sally. “It dropped down for a while, and then it shot up into the 70s alongside Raymond Blanc and Madhur Jaffrey.”
“The following day it leapt into the top 50, reaching as high as 34, and briefly going above Nigella Express,” continued Michael. “After the initial surge sales have dropped off, but we have not yet started our promotional activities.”
Publicist Helen Smith explained the rationale. “The fact that there are so few cookery books available on Kindle could be seen as a negative, but Michael is quite prepared to challenge the market, and the fact that such notable chefs as Nigella Lawson, Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsey have published on Kindle can only be a good thing.” Mrs Smith then gave her own view on the subject matter. “I can tell you from first hand experience that the paella on the cover was magnificent, full of the flavours of the Mediterranean, and his Key Lime Pie is to die for.”
So will there be an Mmm…No2…Cookbook? Michael already has plans in a slightly different direction. “I am looking forward to working with a group of students from Salford University on Mmm…Student…Cookbook in the autumn,” he explained. “They will source the recipes, I will test them out and we can collaborate on the production and marketing. It will be great to get them involved. For now, though, I am concentrating on promoting No1, with Blog Tours and live events, including a huge cookfest in a local pub.”
Mmm…No1…Cookbook is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle
Probably one of my all time favourite dishes, both to prepare and eat. This recipe originally had a lot of seafood in it, but our family does not really do seafood, so I have retained the prawns but replaced the rest of it with chicken. To cook paella properly you really need a paella pan which is wide and flat with a heavy bottom. I picked one up from Valencia a few years ago, and have used it regularly. I have also just taken delivery of a 90cm paella pan, which doesn’t sound very big but I can assure you it is huge. It even comes with its own frame to cook on. Maybe in the next edition I’ll tell you how I am getting on with it. If you don’t have a paella pan the next best thing is probably a wok or a large, heavy bottomed frying pan.
500g/1.1lbs diced chicken breast
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
225g/8oz paella rice
400ml/15 fl oz chicken stock
125ml/5 fl oz white wine
100g/4 oz frozen peas or frozen green beans
½ teaspoon turmeric
225g/8oz cooked prawns
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Lemons to garnish
Note on ingredients:
You can use much more garlic if desired, and you can leave it in larger slices. If you don’t use paella rice it won’t be a proper paella, though risotto rice also works quite well. You can get paella rice in most good supermarkets. Most paella recipes use saffron to colour the rice but not only is it much more expensive than turmeric, I find that turmeric is much more effective.
- Heat half of the oil in the paella pan and fry the chicken until it is well sealed (4-5 minutes).
- Remove the chicken and leave on one side.
- Heat the remaining oil and fry the onion, garlic and peppers until they have softened.
- Add the tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir well so that the rice is covered in the tomato and onion mixture. Continue to cook for 3 minutes.
- Mix the wine with the chicken stock and turmeric and add this to the pan.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and stir well.
- Add the peas or green beans and stir well.
- Add the prawns, season with salt and pepper and bring the pan to a low boil.
- Cover and simmer for around 25 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to stir thoroughly, otherwise there may be pockets of the paella that stick to the pan.
- Sprinkle the parsley over the finished dish.
- Slice the lemons or cut into quarters and push into the dish.
- Serve from the pan with crusty bread and a garden salad.
The chicken can be replaced by white fish or even Quorn pieces to suit vegetarians, in which case you may want to also remove the prawns. You can also add Chorizo sausage, thickly sliced, which should be cooked in the same way as the chicken. The peas or green beans can be replaced with almost any kind of bean, with butterbeans making this a particularly hearty dish.