LEON Fast & Free: Free-from Recipes For People Who Really Like Food

LEON: Fast & Free is the most recent cookbook in a series offered to food lovers by the chefs behind the LEON restaurant chain in the UK. LEON, the restaurant, first opened its kitchens in 2004 and was named the Best New Restaurant in Great Britain within the first six months (by a panel that included Gordon Ramsay, no less!). Their goal was simple: to change the face of fast food. Each of their books celebrates simply-cooked fresh, local, and natural ingredients.

I fell in love with this cookbook from the moment I set eyes on it. Its cover was a clear stand-out to the point where I wondered what kind of book it actually was and why it was in the cookbook section in the first place. With over 150 recipes (and a photo for each one), you really get a good bang for your cookbook buck.

Written by Jane Baxter and John Vincent, it starts with the usual introductions and glossaries and ‘what to keep stocked in your kitchen’ sections, except with a bit of a twist. Their legend not only includes icons for sugar-free, vegan, and vegetarian… but also includes icons for low glycemic load, low saturated fat, nut-free, and “paleon”. And just in case you are wondering what “paleon” is, it’s a LEON-specific concept where they’ve taken some liberties with the usual tenets of paleo diets.

The layout of each recipe is excellent and the authors (and designers) attention to some key details delights me to no end. Not only does each recipe include information about serving sizes, prep time, cooking time, and ingredients, but they offer instructions in a way that makes referencing and following along while cooking very easy. The recipes are grouped into color-coded sections including “good mornings”, “everyday easy”, “speedy suppers”, “meals for a crowd”, and “treat yourself”. Take a look at the pages with the book closed and you’ll appreciate the color coded edges as much as I did! And, just when I thought I couldn’t appreciate their thoughtful layout and attention to detail any more, I found not one but two (!!) recipe indices at the back of the book – the usual alphabetized index and then an extra one organized by dietary requirement.

The recipes themselves have a delightful range to them – everything from Jamaican curry to Southern Indian spiced fish to bindaeduk (a Korean pancake). And, they also have what some may consider to be more traditional British fare – from sausage rolls to scotch eggs to pear and Christmas pudding…. Yum!!

I know I will enjoy testing and tasting many recipes from this book in the months to come. And as Julia Childs once said… Bon Appetit!

Amy Kellestine headshotAmy Kellestine is an educator, engineer, Arati life coach and entrepreneur living in Edmonton, Alberta. She spends her free time camping, gardening, and volunteering for causes such as Cystic Fibrosis and nature conservation. She is a devoted mother, who is passionate about helping others and writing.