I enjoyed her first cookbook on Sichuan cookery, Land of Plenty, and I like this second book on Hunan cookery even more, with even more helpful beautiful photos. As far as portion sizes, she states "all recipes serve two people with one or two other dishes and rice, or four people, with 3 or 4 other dishes and rice".
The Sichuan and Hunan cuisines differ from each other as New Orleans Southern food differs from South Carolina Southern cuisine, and yet both of Dunlop's cuisines are clearly hotter and spicier "Chinese" to our tastes. Hunan folks are said to like food with chilies "fire-hot-hot" whereas Sichuan's dominant style is a mix of chili hot and the peculiar "mouth numbing", from the Sichuan "peppercorns".
The Hunan recipes in this Revolutionary Cookbook are straightforward, nearly all ingredients can be obtained from a local Chinese or Asian grocery store. The only one I can't find is "purple perilla", for which Asian basil is not quite a substitute. Not a problem.
The 120 recipe instructions are for preparing simple, straightforward "comfort food", and the food comes out tasting very good. It's lighter, and not gooey, like the cornstarch-laden Americanized Chinese food.
Delights include: Spicy steamed pork buns, BBQ'd lamb chops, Changde Clay-bowl chicken, yellow cooked salt cod in chili sauce, with most fish dishes steamed. Try Chairman Mao's red braised pork, or one of it's 7 supplied variations. I think Ms. Dunlop overdoes the Chairman Mao bit, putting his cheery face on many, many pages for no good reason; it contributes little to understanding of him, or of the Hunan cookery. I'd rather have had more beautiful photos of food and other aspects of Chinese culture and people, instead of so many of Mao's images.
Have you had the traditional Hunan dish- "General Tso's Chicken"? Guess again! FYI, She met the accepted creator of this NON-Hunan dish, with added sugar for US tastes, created in the 1970's in New York by Hunan chef Peng Chang-Kuei! And yes, most Hunanese have never tasted this bogus, yet popular dish that is known in the USA as the "quintessential Hunan dish"! To adjust for tastes, she has both a Hunan version, and a USA version of Gerneral Tso's to choose from.
From her first book being shown to a Chinese friend of mine from Chengdu,who cooked from it and proclaimed it "the real thing" I know that Ms. Dunlop's current book is gonna be just as accurate. No, I do not currently have an authentic Hunan friend to vouch for the recipes, and I do not mind, I like what spicy hot things I have cooked so far!
Just as an aside- Her photo is only somewhat kind to her, it is an oldie, and she looks better than that in person. She clearly "knows her stuff"; I recommend meeting/hearing her on her book tour.
Buy this, and buy the Sichuan book, Land of Plenty, and cook and taste authentic Chinese "comfort food" as it tastes in China... It's a lot better than the cornstarch-laden "Chinese" food served in most US restaurants.
I look forward to her next books.