This book's charming and sincere opening and closing dedications are indicative that this is not just another 'trendy' cookbook from a celebrity wife, cashing in on a partner's talent or fame.
'For my mum and Dad.
I hope my children grow up with the same sense of love and comfort that you gave me.
From a mother of four young children and with experience in the excellent 'Montessori' method of teaching, comes this new book for 'family cooking', illustrated throughout with family shots.
Largely speaking the recipes are aimed at children, but 'there are tips on how to adapt dishes to suit different ages and tastes and encourage children to experiment with food.........I've also tried to include tips on how to adapt some of the recipes to make them more adult. A splash of wine or a bit of extra seasoning is often all it takes.......'
Tana adorns the front cover of her book which opens to 261 high quality, matt pages, split over main chapters:-
2. Lunch Bites
3. Tea-Time Treats
4. Trying New Tastes
5. Cooking from the Cupboard
6. After-School Suppers
7. Cooking in Advance
8. Weekend Lunches
10. Party Food
sandwiched between a 4-page introduction, handy information about 'vitamins and minerals', a guide to 'essential' and 'luxury' kitchen equipment and a concise index.
'The recipes are organised with most people's weekly routines in mind.'
An interesting introduction heads each chapter, and useful notes appear at the head of most of the recipes.
The book is interspersed with useful tips and variations, e.g.:-
* 'Teatime Treats:- I think it would be terribly unrealistic to say that children should never have snacks - I love them and certainly, as a child, it was one of the comforts I needed..........not all the recipes in this section are the healthiest option, but in moderation and given as a snack at the right time they certainly will not hurt. They give the right kind of energy pick-up and help to wean children of crisps and sticky sweets.'
A list of ingredients and a clear method accompanies every recipe, although there are not that many photos of the finished dishes, which may be slightly negative for some readers who like to see what they are aiming for on a plate!
Old favourites such as:-
* Poached Eggs on Wholemeal Toast
* Homemade Jammy Dodgers
* Classic Prawn Cocktail
* Orange Sponge Fingers with Lemon Icing
* Chilli Con Carne
* Fish Pie
* Osso Bucco
* Steak & Guinness Pie
* Stew & Dumplings
* Trifle with Real Custard and Mandarins
mingle with the, perhaps, more unusual, e.g.:-
* Baked Pumpkin & Fish Pie Risotto
* Danish Pastry Pizzas
* Slow-Cooked Lamb with Apricots, Ginger & Cinnamon
* Steak Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
* New York Sandwich
* Pasta Twist Salad
* King Prawn & Monkfish Curry
* Boy's Birthday Cake
* Girls' Birthday Cake
* Raspberry Meringue Bomb - 'This is the easiest pudding I know and yet everybody assumes it must be very complicated and time consuming.'
* Minestrone:- 'This is a recipe Gordon wrote out for me after cooking it one evening for the children. It was so delicious that I often make it for tea on a Saturday night, especially in winter when the kids have been out cycling and come in freezing cold - they can have it in a mug and warm their hands on it while spooning out the chunky bits.'
* Crispy Pancetta with Mushroom & Spring Onion:- 'This is just a tasty salad............My children love pancetta but were always a little hesitant about mushrooms - mixing them with the pancetta has encouraged them to like mushrooms and taken away the classic snap decision, 'I don't like it'.
Sometimes it takes using things in unusual ways to break a habit.'
* Coleslaw Crunch:- 'This is great served in a little 'Tupperware' tub to accompany a simple sandwich or muffin - and a good way to approach Brussel sprouts - Love them or hate them.'
And, last but not least.... the book winds up with the recipe for that highly useful recipe for rainy days:-
* 'Play Dough'!:- 'I know that this isn't edible - but I have learned from experience that being able to whip up a load of 'play dough' on a rainy afternoon can be a real life-saver!'
The book ends with another charming acknowledgement, this time to husband:-
'To Gordon, thank you for not interfering.'