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4.4 out of 5 stars
Entertaining at Home
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Price:£8.99
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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2010
I've been hoping Rachel would do a book like this for a few years now. Last years book about home cooking was a great book for just that. This one is home cooked food, but geared up a bit for entertaining friends and family. Oh and it's lovely! Gorgeous recipes, pretty layout and really beautiful pictures of food and table settings.

Rachel has a real knack of being able to talk readers and cooks through recipes and processes so that they are calm and easy. This book is no different, her voice comes through strongly. The entertaining in this book can be casual and easy going, or you can put in a bit more effort and time and have something worthy of that event we all have at some time - the Special Occasion.

Chapters are Brunches and Lunches, Casual Meals, Eating Outdoors, Canapes and Small Bites, Small Celebrations, Dinner Parties, Larger Gatherings and The Buffet Party.

Here are some of the many recipes I can't wait to try. On the Savoury side: (marinated) Halloumi and Greek Salad with Roasted Pita Wedges, Pan Grilled Chicken Breasts with Basil Cream and Roast Cherry Tomatoes, Steak au Poivre, Coq au vin, Roasted Vegetable Coconut Curry, Fragrant Coconut Prawns, Baked Beetroot Risotto with Parmesan Crisps, Winter Herb and Sausage Pasta, Cassoulet and also a selection of great marinades for BBQs. Sweet wise: Orange Meringue Roulade, Pistachio and Cranberry Chocolates, Chocolate crème Brulees, Maple Pecan Toffee Tart, Blackberry Mousse, Peach Jelly Pannacotta Pots and last but by no means least the amazing sounding Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart.

This is a beautiful book full of fabulous recipes, some very classic and some with a little Rachel twist. It's quite simply a gorgeous entertaining book.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2010
What a book - typically Rachel - down-to-earth and passionate!

Between Rachel on the front cover and the 'Raspberry and Amaretto Tart' on the back, we find a splendid mix of recipes, where old favourites such as 'Steak au Poivre', 'Roast Pork with Apple Sauce' and 'Coq au Vin' mingle with the, perhaps, lesser well-known 'Thai Noodle Broth', 'Game Terrine with Celeraic Remoulade', and 'Spinach Soup with Rosemary Oil'.
Whether casually serving 2 or more formally entertaining 12, there is something for all occasions, with all levels of ability catered for and Rachel's gently authoritative but unassuming personality rings out, throughout.

From the back cover:-

'Sharing irresistible food and having fun with those you love is what Entertaining at Home: Inspiring recipes for all occasions  is all about. It's as simple as that!
Whether you want a casual supper with your nearest and dearest or a big feast to mark a special occasion, Rachel gives you all the inspiring ideas and achievable, delicious recipes you'll need to make any meal a celebration.'

Measuring in around 25.25 cm x 19.75 cm x 3 cm, this is a chunky tome of 352 quality pages, split over main chapters:-

* Brunches and lunches (pg 14-61)
* Casual meals (pg 64-85)
* Eating outdoors (pg 88-119)
* Canapés and small bites (pg122-153)
* Small celebrations (2-4 people) (pg 156-201)
* Dinner parties (4-8 people) (pg 204-263)
* Larger gatherings (8-12 people) (pg 266-313)
* The buffet party (pg 316-343)

sandwiched between an introduction and an 8-page index, with Rachel in her yellow marigolds winding up the very last page - the acknowledgements!
The book is complete with a mid-pink ribbon marker to keep the page!

From the introduction:-

'Friends, family, good food, good times - this is what entertaining is all about. It can be as relaxed as flopping down on the sofa with a few friends to share nibbles and drinks, or as formal as getting out your best china and ironing your tablecloth for a three-course meal. How you choose to share your time and your cooking creations with your loved ones is entirely up to you. What each kind of gathering has in common, however, is a happy, welcoming atmosphere, and the main ingredient for that is you......'

which goes on to chat about:-

* your guests
* your home
* your table
* what to serve
* preparing ahead
* budget
* drinks

and, probably, the most important.......

* keeping calm!

This is a beautifully produced book with that special Rachel Allen feeling which is so hard to put in words.

Each chapter opens a double-page spread, with white type on coloured pages, showing the dishes in a menu list on one page and opening narrative on the other.

Each recipe is clearly laid out with the title, number of servings, the list/s of ingredients, an opening note and a clear, numbered method. The inclusion of whether it is a vegetarian choice is useful as is the detailed size of dish for some recipes which I find most welcome, e.g. six 100ml (3.5 fl oz) ramekins or ovenproof dishes for the very first recipe:-
'Baked Eggs with Creamy Kale', which is also the first I tried....lured by the enticing photograph and substituting Gruyère for the Irish recommendation of Glebe Brethan, as advised.
Simply delicious!

I have gone on to find firm favourites in 'Ballymaloe Glazed Loin of Bacon with Spicy Mayonnaise', and.... with Christmas in mind (at the time of writing).....the fantastic, 'Chocolate Roulade' from page 312, using a 20 cm x 30 cm Swiss Roll tin & a simple holly leaf embellishment, and the 'Spiced Raisin Tart', from page 256 - a recipe of Mum's, from the 70s & 'fabulously retro' - and heaven served with the recommended 'Cinnamon Ice Cream', two pages away and a dark espresso!

Each chapter closes with menu selection ideas in the same colour combination as the opening pages apart from the last chapter which has a buffet party plan.

A small taste of the other recipes within:-

* Lazy weekend Bloody Mary
* Isaac's frittata
* Skirt steak with spicy potatoes
* Tuscan beans on toast
* Tagliatelle with smoked salmon and avocado
* Salade niçoise
* Pork rillettes
* Venison sausages with celeriac purée
* Stocks
* Orange meringue roulade
* Apple snow with shortbread biscuits
* Chilli sin carne
* Chicken and olive tagine
* Chinese-style ribs with coleslaw
* Mild lamb curry
* Apricot crumble
* Middle Eastern chilled cucumber soup
* Salmon Teriyaki
* Marinades
* Broad bean and pancetta salad
* Spicy pastry straws
* Parsley pesto
* Onion Jam
* Mendiants
* Hollandaise sauce
* Summer pea and mint ravioli
* Chicken confit
* Garlic and herb pork chops
* Beef and wild mushroom lasagne
* Watercress mousse
* Fluffy mashed potato
* Chocolate crème brûlées
* Tuiles biscuits
* Decadent mushroom tart
* Fish stew
* Pot-roast pheasant with bacon and brandy
* Beef wellington
* Soy and sesame pak choi
* Tiramisu
* Zingy Asian prawns
* Ballymaloe cucumber relish
* Cassoulet
* Roast haunch of venison
* Rosemary and garlic bread
* Rhubarb and ginger crumble cake
* Egg mayonnaise
* Gravalax
* Horseradish Sauce

The recipes are sometimes more than one to a page, e.g. stocks & marinades and some, e.g.:- 'Blueberry and Custard Tart', & 'Decadent Mushroom Tart' span more than one page. The main text is broken up with a reasonable number of photographs, including some on-location, from Kate Whittaker, plus 'Rachel's Tips' and/or variations feature throughout, as usual, e.g.:-

'An easy way of checking if cooking oil is hot enough for deep-frying is to drop in a bread cube. If it comes back up to the top relatively quickly, the oil is the perfect temperature. If it immediately burns, the oil is too hot.'

along with additional informative snippets, such as:-

* Calculating cooking times for beef both on and off the bone
* How long to marinate meat
* Cooking a crab
* Roasting and peeling hazelnuts
* Choosing a cheese board

[..]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I was rather disappointed with this book.
I had ordered this and the Mary Berry & Lucy Young 'Cook up a feast' book for inspiration when I was planning a casual drinks/supper evening for a group of friends. They are very different books as the Mary Berry volume is really geared up for entertaining for a crowd with no-nonsense friendly guidance and a real 'can do' approach which makes you want to get started and try everything!
This book is a much more sophisticated take on simple 'entertaining' for a select small group of friends (though obviously recipes can easily be doubled for higher numbers). There are sections for brunches, casual meals, outdoor eating as well as dinner party ideas and suggestions for larger gatherings.
I will definitely use this book at some point, it's just that it didn't grab me! It's all lovely to look at, floating you beautifully through it's pages...but I know I won't reach for this as often as my VERY well worn Nigella, Lynne Bedford Hall, Mary Berry, Nigel Slater & Tamasin Day-Lewis beauties!!
I also have 'Rachels favourite food at home' so should have known what to expect- another lovely book (though almost too many scene setting photos of the chef!)- just, somehow, lacking a passion. It's gone onto the shelf for now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2011
What can I say about this book. If your looking for something to dip into when cooking for friends and loved ones, this book is wonderful. The food is not complicated yet elegant and and tasty. It also has lots of vegetarian dishes, so no problem catering for all. It is also presented beautifully so is great for flipping through. The only downside is that this isn't what I would call an everyday cookery book, but that is ok, I have lots of those.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2010
I'm a huge Rachel fan and have all her books, what a great addition to my collection! It's beautiful, I can't wait to cook from it, and as with all of her books I feel encouraged to try new things. Rachel always includes useful tips and tidbits, and this doesn't disappoint. I love the design and the fresh feel. If the previous poster wants to give me their copy as a gift, I'll happily take it and keep it too! One to save for good, one to get cooking gubbins all over it. And anyone thinking this is simply a dinner party planning book - think again, so many of these recipes you could and would happily make for a family dinner, so many for your friends , and then some great ideas for pushing the boat out for the right occasion. Overall, more great, delicious food from Rachel. Seriously happy with this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2011
I got this book from the library but there were so many good recipes in it I had to buy it. I've tried lots of the recipes already and as usual Rachel has made them easy to follow, impressive without being difficult and absolutely delicious.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2011
I bought this book for a large gathering of family and friends that I will be catering for and I have to say I found it uninspiring. I was most interested in the section titled 'The Buffet Party' and the ideas of cucumber salad, potato salad, tomato and basil salad, egg mayonnaise, roast meats and poached salmon are all ideas I could have come up with on my own without much thought - or indeed quite simply from flicking through the Waitrose catering service booklet.

I am sure that I will turn to this book perhaps at other times but so far, it wasn't the little gem I was hoping for. I won't be using any of her ideas for my party unfortunately.

And from looking at the other recipes, if you already have a fairly decent library of cookery books, they seem to be a re-hash of many recipes you'll have seen before from Nigella,Ottolenghi etc.

It is, however, a very pretty book. And if someone who is completely green, the introduction about how to set a table cover or lay a buffet table will be helpful.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2010
I have a couple of Rachel's cookbooks i.e. Home Cooking and Bake, both of which are very good. But I simply adore this book as it provides great many recipes that you could use when entertaining family and friends (casual or extravagant dinner parties depending on what you fancy or have time for). It also gave me ideas on adapting the recipes to serve good meals for the family as well as one or two ideas on creating that romantic meal for my partner, which I love doing every now and then.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2010
This book is excellent. I have all of rachel allen books and this one is great for when you're having that special dinner party and you want to impress.
Would highly recomend
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2011
A lovely hardback recipe book by Rachel Allen. The recipes are easy to follow and there are some interesting variations and ideas. Have made several of the recipes successfully and they were enjoyed by all!

A few more illustrations would have been nice.
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