cookery teacher and caterer Jane Lovett has spent years behind the scenes perfecting recipes and preparing mouth-watering dishes for cook books.
Most notably she worked with renowned caterer and restaurateur Prue Leith, a judge on the BBC show ‘Great British Menu’.
Now, at long last, the mother-of-three from Hetton House, near Chatton, has been persuaded to take her turn in the spotlight with her own cook book - and what a welcome decision that is!
“I’d always done other people’s books until now, whether that be doing the food for the photographs or testing the recipes,” said Jane.
“I have always wanted to write a book myself though and I must admit it feels just amazing to have finally done so.
“I’m very proud of it - it’s been beautifully produced and the recipes have been tested to within an inch of their lives - so I hope people will like it!”
Titled ‘Make it Easy - Delicious get-ahead recipes for happy home cooking’, it contains a collection of delicious recipes that can be prepared not just hours, but days in advance, giving the host time to relax and enjoy the meal and not spend the whole occasion in the kitchen.
Ranging from simple starters to weekend lunches to more elaborate meals, all the dishes are contemporary, seasonal and fresh and aim to keep ingredients to a minimum.
From mushroom, thyme and taleggio galettes, sea bass with chorizo and butter beans to sticky rhubarb and ginger cake, the book is packed with inspirational recipes, all of which are explained in a lively and informative way.
There are also tips, shortcuts and a host of original ideas along the way.
“All the recipes are very easy to follow and only require a basic knowledge of cookery,” said Jane.
“People who are not that used to cooking or not that confident, particularly when they are entertaining, tend to go around manically thinking everything has to be done at the last minute,” she explained. “It’s very hard to be doing three or four recipes at the same time so my book very clearly sets out how to get ahead and take the stress out of it.
“Quite a lot of the recipes can be done three or four days in advance and are the better for it flavour-wise. Others you can prepare three-quarters of the way and finish later on.
“Not everyone has all day to get ahead and prepare the food so there are bits where you can do 10 minutes here and there.”
Where possible, Jane also uses ingredients that are readily available.
“If you can grow them yourself or use local produce then that’s great,” she said. “There’s nothing in the recipes that you won’t be able to find in your local supermarket.”
Jane also gives cookery demonstrations from her own home and other parts of the UK which is how the opportunity to write her own book arose.
She explained: “One day someone at one of the cookery demonstrations told me I should write a book and put me in touch with an agent.
“She agreed to help me find a publisher, even though she hadn’t taken me on at that stage. Then she came up here for one of my demonstrations and was very complimentary and took me on straight away.”
The book will be published by New Holland in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Europe.
Jane has always been passionate about food, cooking and all things culinary. Having obtained a diploma from the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London she worked at Leith’s Good Food in the City of London, moving on to teach at Leith’s School of Food and Wine before starting her own business providing innovative food for private parties and companies such as The Economist and Vogue.
The late British food critic and gourmet Sir Clement Freud wrote that Jane’s cooking ‘ought to be Michelin-starred’.
Jane lives with her husband John, a company director, and children Flora, 24, Freddie, 23 and Lucy, 21.
“I’m always testing new recipes on them,” she admits.
She loves rural life and, as a keen gardener, enjoys growing and cooking her own fruit and vegetables.
A launch party for the new book was held in Newcastle yesterday before its publication on Sunday, April 1.
* Jane will be appearing at a book signing event at Florin of Wooler on Saturday, April 7 from 11am to 2pm. She will also be at Main Street Trading in St Boswells on April 12.