My main reason for buying this book, apart from the fact that it was recommended to me, is that I was looking for recipes which would serves just as well for main courses as starters. I love good food and I enjoy cooking but I don't like eating large amounts. This book is perfect for me.
Shane Osborn offers some marvelous starters and in many cases gives suggestions on how to turn them into main courses with the addition of just a few ingredients.
Most of the recipes are accompanied by full or half-page photographs, which I find invaluable for visualizing what it is that I am supposed to produce.
The book is divided into a number of sections which are about the type of meal you are serving rather than the ingredients you might plan to use. These are: Introduction, Nibbles and Snacks, Quick and Easy, Simple and Satisfying, Food for Groups, Posh, and Basics. Each of these sections has a list of recipes on the section heading page. There is a good index at the end. Within each of these sections the recipes are presented in the order of vegetarian, fish, poultry and meat.
Below I have listed a small selection of the recipes in the book which appeal to me, but there are many others.
- Crisp marinated quails eggs
- Smoked eel pate with apple and lime
- Cep, artichoke and broad bean salad
- Scallops with basil oil and crisp serrano ham
- Mussels in a creamy sauce with basil
- Roasted skate with with crispy capers
- Wild mushroom and parsley broth
- Pumpkin and Parmesan risotto with green scallops
- Squid with crushed potatoes and saffron vinaigrette
- Chicken with cep and artichoke carpaccio
- Warm chicken, baby spinach and mozzarella salad
- Roasted lamb cannelloni with minted peas
As with many books produced by so-called celebrity chefs the ingredients, as you can see from the above list of some of his recipes, many are not suitable for everyday use if you're on any sort of budget. On the other hand they are great for special occasions and in many cases you can use less expensive substitutes.
Although many of the recipes sound ambitious they are all well described and are easily assembled. Each recipe shows the number of servings (usually 4 / 6), there is a list of ingredients, step by step instructions and in many cases at the bottom of the page instructions for turning it into a main meal and sometimes a hint for making a starter into a canape.
The book is nicely produced on good quality paper which, if you spill something on it, can be quickly wiped clean without damaging the page.
I enjoy having this book for my own use, but would also keep it in mind as a potential gift for a another cooking enthusiast.