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4.8 out of 5 stars
Sarah Raven's Food for Friends and Family
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 April 2011
This is a really lovely seasonal cookbook with hundreds of recipes to choose from, covering everything from snacks & starters, main courses, desserts, cakes & biscuits, jams & preserves and even a selection of drinks to make. At the front of each section there is a list of the recipes which follow for that season, divided into groups for starters, mains, etc.. There is still a conventional index at the back too. I found this arrangement very useful as an aid to menu planning as you can see on a two page spread all the recipes for that season. There is something for everyone here, including a decent selection of vegetarian recipes and others which could be adapted easily to cater for non-meat eaters. The recipes are straightforward - there is nothing complicated or finicky here. There is also plenty of easy and/or prepare ahead dishes if you are hosting a party.

By way of example, spring offers spicy cauliflower, cumin chunky chips, Persian jewelled rice, slow-cooked shoulder of lamb, lamb rissoles, pork rogan josh, game pie, prawn korma, sweet & sour trout with lemon & ginger, After Eight chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake with lime, blood orange with grapefruit sorbet, lemon & passion fruit meringue pie.

The section covering summer recipes is probably my favourite. There is so much to choose from and there are recipes for convenient barbecue and picnic food. To give you an idea here are a few examples: split pea & minted croquettes; pea, chilli & coriander soup; marinated mozzarella with basil & prosciutto; tomato, basil & mozzarella salad with artichoke hearts; a gorgeous summer vegetable risotto; summer garden fritto misto; fasolakia (greek bean stew); stuffed courgette flowers with honey; langoustine with basil mayo; pork & porcini casserole. Suggestions for the barbecue and picnics include lamb kebabs with spiced aubergine sauce, Persian butterflied leg of lamb, aubergine & mozzarella stacks, chicken breast stuffed with garden herbs, a lovely stuffed pepper recipe and courgette & mascarpone frittata. For the sweet course there are things like blackcurrant mousse ice-cream, strawberry & basil ice-cream, baked vanilla & lemon cheesecake with marinated strawberries, lemon tart topped with raspberries, summer berry bakewell tart, peaches in sweet rosé wine with lemon verbena. I also liked the drinks - lemon thyme vodka lemonade and summer berry bellinis among others.

For autumn you could try spiced toasted chick peas (a great snack or party nibble); pumpkin & apple soup; mulligatawny soup; wild mushroom lasagne; mussels in a creamy curry sauce (an interesting variation on the idea of moules mariniere); Moroccan lamb shanks; rabbit pie; fennel & parmesan gratin; creamy thyme leeks; toffee apple pie (think banoffee pie with apples instead of bananas); pear parcels with star anise; pumpkin seed & cinnamon brittle; blackberry & apple curd; chilli jelly (a fabulous accompaniment to roasted or barbecued veg, meats & fish). Again there are a few drinks, including fabulous spiced pear bellinis.

The winter recipes offer a lovely collection of warming, nurturing dishes: leek, sage & butter bean soup; cream of celeriac & Jerusalem artichoke soup; cardamom parsnip soup; pigeon breast salad; celeriac salad; red onion, parmesan & rosemary tart; cauliflower & chick pea curry, Indonesian fish curry; scallops in cream chilli sauce; halibut steak with lentils; a couple of Brussels sprout recipes that almost converted me; marmalade & chutneys, plus recipes for Christmas & Christmas leftovers.

In her introduction, Sarah Raven says that she "tried to make this a one-stop book that you can turn to for inspiration all year round". I think she succeeded.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 7 September 2010
I'm a keen collector of cook books but I'd not heard of Sarah Raven before. This colourful book caught my eye and I orderd it, so glad I did.

The book is split into 4 sections, one for each season. The recipes are based on what is freshly available/in season for that time of year. Of course there's nothing to stop you from cooking a summer dish in spring if you fancy! Each of the 4 seasonal sections is then split into snacks, soups, salad, vegetarian, fish, meat, vegi sides, puddings, cakes/biscuits, preserves and drinks.

There are plenty of quick weekday dinner type dishes as well as some more fancy stuff for weekends/impressing guests. Most of the recipes are with ingredeients that you'd easily find though there's a few that aren't such as rabbit pie and a couple of venison dishes. Lots of baking recipes along with soups, chutneys, salads, curries, pasta dishes and meat and fish dishes. My husband is a vegetarian and there are plenty of things in here I'll be able to cook him. Infact even if you don't have a carnivore in the house I'd still say this book is worth buying. The photos are great and make all the dishes look very tasty. Most importantly they inspire you to want to cook them. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Most importantly teh end results taste good. So far I've made a chicken dish, coconut and coriander rice and a chocolate and lime cake. All very tasty.

Here are some of the autumn recipes to give you an idea;

Squash Humus
Rosemary flatbread
smokes mackeral pate
pumpkin and apple soup with chestnuts
crab and red pepper soup
Beetroot and coconut soup
Cheese and fennel scones
Pumpkin cornbread
Pear, pancetta and blue cheese salad
Fennel and apple salad with toasted pumpkin seeds
Pepper caponata
Beetroot tart with horseradish cream
Griddled aubergines with tzatzki
Vegetable pakoras
Wild mushroom lasagne
Curried prawns with lentils
Tarragon fishcakes
Chicken fillets with coriander and lime
Chilli con carne
Moroccan lamb shanks
Thai chicken burgers
Roast cumin carrots
Parsnip balls
Fig mashed potato
Toffee apple pie
Baked figs with yoghurt icecream
Chocolate, beetroot and orange cake
Damson jam
Chilli jelly
Pumpkin and chilli chutney
Sloe gin!
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 May 2010
I pre-ordered Sarah's new book on the strength of her previous titles. I was very excited to get an email from Amazon letting me know that I was going to get it early - and even more excited waiting for it to arrive! I really like Sarah's approach in all her books: simple and unfussy.

The book is comparable in size to Sarah's Garden cookbook. It is arranged by season, and each season is subdivided to provide: snacks and canapes, soups and accompaniments, salads, vegetarian, fish, meat, vegetable sides, puddings,cakes and biscuits, preserves, drinks. Some of the seasons have extra sections: summer: barbecues and picnics, spring: sweets, winter: christmas lunch, christmas leftovers, christmas cakes and puddings. Coloured pages helpfully indicate the start of a new season so they are easy to turn to.

Examples of some of the recipes:

SPRING:
Smoked Salmon Pate
Crayfish and sweetcorn chowder
Roast asparagus salad with orange
Pea and spinach timbale
Moroccan fish tagine
Mixed grill with potato cakes
Beer-can chicken
Ham in hay with parsley sauce
Persian jewelled rice
Coffee mousse
Lemon and passion fruit meringue pie
Elderflower and milk jellies
Orange and lemon cake with marmalade cream
Primose lemon curd cupcakes
Large hollow easter egg
After eight chocolate chip cookies
Quick rhubarb chutney with cardamon
Piccalli
Rhubarb and ginger vodka
Limoncello

I have only included spring here - but it gives you an idea. This section alone contains 96 recipes! I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, and I am also keen to sit down and compare her previous books with this one to see if there is any duplication. Based on my previous experience of her recipes I am sure they will all be delicious. I'll let you know how it goes.

The book is interspersed with beautiful photos and is an absolute joy to read. This is how food should be (or so I think) - simple, unfussy, a joy for the eyes and tasty. Highly recommended.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2010
I actually saw an couple of the recipes from Sarah Raven's new book Food for Friends and Family in a magazine and I was so impressed with it. So impressed that my husband immediately cooked the Chicken Stuffed with Garden Herbs the very next night and it was absolutely delicious. Fuelled by a love of good food, I then purchased the book and am in love with it. Even more lovely recipes to try. Ideal for entertaining friends and family.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2010
Like the previous review I ordered this on the basis of Sarah Raven's two other cookbooks- her Garden Cookbook and her Christmas Cookbook- both of which I love and use a lot. The new cookbook has arrived and I've had a flick through it and it looks lovely. Packed full of seasonal recipes that look delicious. If you have enjoyed her other cookbooks then I think you'll enjoy this one too.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2010
Just what I was needing to inspire me after 40 years cooking meals for family and friends! A book full (400!) of delicious, different, seasonal, no fuss recipes with lovely photos to set the scene. Have been on holiday so have not done more than browse yet but am now ready to choose from the Autumn section. Will it be Mary Berry's beetroot and coconut soup (beetroot and onions from the garden) or cheese and fennel seed scones as my contribution to a buffet supper? Or perhaps I will make Rosehip jelly for the store cupboard? It's a good thing this book has a strong, wipe-clean cover - it well be in constant use.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A complete delight to read - uncomplicated yet scrumptious - the sort of cookbook you want to take to bed with you to read. Love the season by season approach and full marks to Sarah for crediting her friends and family for a number of the recipes.
Her Indoors has placed it in her top ten all time favourites - this is a huge honour as she has hundreds!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2010
For years I have had a slightly disturbing addiction to cookbooks. I have even had to make the occasional cull. If Kirsty Young forced me to make the ultimate cull and choose my sole surviving cookbook, then this would win a close fight with Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cooking". It's a fantastic piece of work which you must own. (By the way, my Nespresso machine machine would be my luxury).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2010
I'm a student who having left catered halls of residence and up until then having enjoyed the excellent home cooked food of my mother and school (no joke I had excellent school food), I had never had to cook anything more complicated than pasta with the occasional dalliance with baking. I decided I wanted to attempt to become a more accomplished cook so that I might feed myself good food (thus avoiding weight gain from eating nasties at university) and host a dinner party where my mother wasn't doing all the cooking behind the scenes. I chose this book in waterstones, primarily for the great photos, seasonal layout and clear instructions before going on holiday and thus spent three weeks reading it before cooking a thing - to say I was excited and my appetite whetted is an understatement. When I was able to start cooking I can honestly say that I couldn't be happier with it. It provides access to cooking delicious food in a clear unfussy manner and has improved my confidence in the kitchen greatly so that I can tackle the more difficult recipes and even put my own spin on it - the Avgolemono soup is a particular favourite, as is the ricotta al forno. A fantastic book for eager beginners and which will produce food that will (and has) impress the more experienced hand.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2010
I love Sarah Ravens previous cookery book and this one is shaping up to be just as good. Simple, reliable and everything tastes fantastic.
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