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5.0 out of 5 stars Food you can see yourself cooking - practical and useful
Here is delicious food that you feel you will be able to handle with no problems if you have some cooking experience, and recipes that take you through things step by step if you are an absolute beginner,
This is a beautifully illustrated book, full page colour plates give the cook a realistic idea of what a finished dish will look like. Everything does look as if it...
Published on 25 Aug 2011 by A. I. McCulloch

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars boring
The real test of a cook book is twofold. First have the recipes been tested or just seem to have been dreamed up by some copywriter who eats out a lot but does not cook, and secondly are there any recipes that I actually want to try for myself.

The author is apparently a cook but for me this book fails on both counts and the cover is boring too.
Published 23 months ago by D&D


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5.0 out of 5 stars Food you can see yourself cooking - practical and useful, 25 Aug 2011
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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Here is delicious food that you feel you will be able to handle with no problems if you have some cooking experience, and recipes that take you through things step by step if you are an absolute beginner,
This is a beautifully illustrated book, full page colour plates give the cook a realistic idea of what a finished dish will look like. Everything does look as if it was produced in a home kitchen - grains of rice have fallen from a plate on to the table, a glossy pot of cheese and ale fondue has a new potato in it on the end of a fondue fork.
The food is, as James Ramsden says in his introduction 'fuss-free'. It's not so under-prepared that it doesn't tempt you, but neither does any dish look like the sort of meal you would never dream of tackling.

There are all sorts of handy hints threaded through the book - making latte without a machine, the secret of good soda bread. For those who want to dress the food up a little more, to tart it up, 'TART' footnotes are given to many of the recipes.

'Small Adventures in Food' is a perfect title - nothing overly ambitious here but some nice little challenges that you will enjoy meeting.
Recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Gem hidden behind a boring cover, 5 July 2011
By 
Mrs. Gail Brewster (Doncaster UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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Don't let the really boring cover put you off this little gem, there are some surprisingly good recipes in it.

The recipes range from fairly simple dishes such as mushrooms on toast; the worlds laziest curry and Roast butternut squash with taleggio cheese, walnuts and honey. to entertaining with Pork Wellington and Spice roasted leg of lamb with cumin potatoes.

The author offers alternatives to his choice of ingredients such as using goats cheese or French Munster cheese instead of taleggio. Each recipe is followed by ideas for `tarting' and `tweaking' and what to do with any leftovers. There is a section about entertaining friends and one for making good use of cheaper cuts of meat.

The author doesn't' forget that there are people out there who are new to cooking and looking after themselves; there are hints and tips throughout the book on how to prepare ingredients such as chillies and tomatoes. He also explains how to make pastry and flatbreads for his lamb kebabs. The book includes sensible advice and a few shopping tips.

For students using the book, there are ideas for cocktails and a section on adding flavours to booze such as toffee ; chilli or rhubarb vodka (haven't tried them but they sound interesting).

I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone but I think students will find it especially useful.
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2.0 out of 5 stars boring, 13 Jan 2013
By 
D&D - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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The real test of a cook book is twofold. First have the recipes been tested or just seem to have been dreamed up by some copywriter who eats out a lot but does not cook, and secondly are there any recipes that I actually want to try for myself.

The author is apparently a cook but for me this book fails on both counts and the cover is boring too.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully readable and well-designed, plus great recipes..., 6 July 2011
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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Well, what a brilliant surprise this cookbook was! I really loved reading it, have used it successfully already and will definitely be revisiting it often. It's actually pretty rare that I get this excited about a cookbook, so I will have to set the scene and explain why.

If I'm honest, I wasn't really expecting to enjoy this one so much - the cover has the kind of cardboardy, recycled 'do good' look of a small-time project. And it was by a blogger, and I keep picking up cookbooks by bloggers and finding them a bit ho-hum... I'm delighted to say that this one is genuinely well-written, and the recipes are pretty fab too. The writing style is chatty and genuinely funny without trying too hard. It's very readable. And this does matter - I mean, when somebody is trying to convince me to try tinned aubergines, they've got to sound convincing about it! (As an aside, WOW, I'm glad I listened to that unlikely sounding tip).

I particularly liked the extra hints and tips that came along with each recipe - 'tart', 'tweak', and 'tomorrow' - inspiration for making a dish different or more special, or for reusing the leftovers. A nice touch and the genuinely good extra ideas made me feel I was getting several recipes for the price of one!

The idea of dividing recipes into types of occasion also worked well - the kind of dishes you might want to cook for a big group of people are pretty different from ones you might want to cook for a special dinner for two, so this was a nice idea.

To give you a bit of background, I'm vegetarian, but a voracious reader/collector of cookbooks of all sorts - I tend to go through and think about how I could adapt the meaty recipes. This book is a pretty omnivorous offering has lots of recipes involving all sorts of different meat. There is a reasonable selection of vegetarian recipes too, especially starters.

And finally, the production quality and photos - both good. The photography here is unpretentious but alluring. Printed on matte paper rather than glossy. Easy to flip through and printed on relatively thick, durable paper.

All in all, a delightfully readable, inspiring and user-friendly cookbook. Highly recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, fast and satisfying recipes, 16 Aug 2011
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Amazon Customer - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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'Small Adventures in Cooking' has rather aptly been produced in an A5 sized book and from the exterior has the appearance of a recipe collection that you might have inherited from your Gran.

It has been bound so as to prevent easy referral on the work surface without using various implements (such as my trusted bags of flour and sugar) to hold the pages open at the required recipe. I tend towards the messy end of the spectrum when it comes to cooking and have actually found it beneficial to photocopy the recipes to ensure the source material is kept in pristine condition and thus avoid the balancing act.

I think I rather like James Ramsden's style of cooking, except that he advocates washing up as you go to avoid having to cook in a couple of inches of work space - surely that is half of the fun? His recipes are easy on the whole and include cheese or mushrooms on toast with no great surprises in either dish, as well as how to basically cook eggs. There is even a chicken curry made using curry paste bought readymade with the explanation that it offers a fast solution to hunger and an alternative to takeaways - it is simple but tasty. I can relate to the feeling of wanting a quick fix after a hard day at work.

Overall, whilst I found several recipes in the book appealing, the slant really was towards basic cookery. It is something I would probably consider popping in the suitcase for a student that will have to cater for themselves for the first time rather than a highly accomplished cook. I am neither but this book offers sufficient new content for me to be happy to give it a space on my bookshelf.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing cookbook, 5 July 2011
By 
Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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It was only after seeing the other good reviews that I decided to choose this book, and I'm glad I did. "Small Adventures in Cooking" is a pleasing book encouraging a relaxed and thoughtful approach to cooking.

Ramsden comes across as intelligent and likeable, writing in a chatty way, which, depending on the reader, may either seem charming or annoyingly informal. As for the food itself, as well as recipes the book includes general notes on, for example, prepping or tasting and seasoning, which, while always readable may be more or less useful depending on how confident and experienced a cook one already is.

There are several original and intriguing recipes for things such as toffee vodka, elderflower icecream (which doesn't need constant stirring), skate cheeks with pea shoots and pea puree, rhubarb gin and tonic with egg whites, and fennel seed brownies. I've already made mushrooms on toast, adapted as a pasta sauce, and chicken noodle soup, both of which had easy to follow recipes, were not stressful to make, and resulted in delicious meals.

The recipes are not meant to be set in stone, and all are accompanied by a section ('tart', 'tweak', 'tomorrow') on how to add things to make the dish a bit more special, substitutions which can be made, and how to use the leftovers.

As with any cookbook, all the recipes won't appeal to everyone, and some did look rather unappealing, for example Soviet salmon soup (which to be fair Ramsden introduces with 'This probably sounds disgusting'). I also agree with the other reviewers who commented on the overtight binding and sometimes unreadable font. Overall, however, this is a good cookbook and a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting recipes, 4 July 2011
By 
MousieTongue's KM (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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Overall impressions: some very good, interesting recipes, many of which I think would be reasonably accessible to newbie and experienced chefs alike (with the caveat that the newbie chef would have to have at least an interest in food, otherwise they might be a bit intimidated by some of the ingredients lists).

I'm not a big one for formulaic cookbooks, except in cases where precision is critical to outcome. So that is one big advantage of this book - nothing is prescriptive, and the author gives you a bit of guidance in terms of exploring when you can vary an ingredient and when one might be critical. There are some interesting flavour combinations proposed, which got me wanting to try them out. Some of the ingredients might seem a bit exotic, but I think this really is a cookbook for people who love food and cooking, rather than a "how to" manual for those who feel compelled to cook.

I'd rate this far above a Jamie Oliver or Nigella type cookbook - it's probably most successfully aimed at the reasonably confident cook who likes to play about a bit, and likes to think about new combinations of ingredients. it's not wildly innovative, but it's got enough new ideas in there to feel like a satisfying read. At the same time, there is nothing really that complicated - no Heston-style blow torches or dry ice required (although that kind of cooking intrigues me too).

So, I think, if you like interesting flavour combinations and you like reading about food in general, this is a reasonably good cookbook, and a cut above the typical TV chef type far.
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3.0 out of 5 stars old recipes with added lentils, 2 July 2011
By 
Su (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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I was looking forward to receiving this book because I enjoy cooking and the idea of the "secret supper society" has always interested me.

I have been a member of a "secret supper club" for a number of years. A secret supper club is a good way of keeping in touch with old friends; people who you may lose contact with due to work or physical distance. So, any recipe suggestions are (usually) welcome.

The outer appearance of the book reminds me of an old notebook; the sort of notebook that my maternal Grandmother and great Aunts used to use to write down their favourite family recipes.

The first problem I encountered was with the dish titles which are in a script font (one similar to "mistral") which makes it difficult to read them at times.

There is an introduction to each of the recipes which, after a while, I started to skip. They came across as self-indulgent and on occasion irrelevant to the recipe that they had been attached to.

I as I was making the "belly pork with cider and lentils" recipe (p56) and I had a sense of de-ja-vu and went searching through our other recipe book and there it was, in an old farmhouse kitchen recipe book, "Pork and Cider Casserole". The differences were few but included, the quantity descriptions (the old recipe is given in imperial measure and this book is in metric), and the exchange of barley (old recipe) for lentils (this recipe), along with the addition of a small amount of tarragon.

As I compared the recipes I was a bit shocked and disappointed. Where the author has rashers of smoked streaky bacon finely chopped, the farmhouse recipe has bacon lardons, and the farmhouse recipe says finely chopped parsley where as this author says flat leaf parsley. The recipes were different only with the addition of lentils and tarragon - everything else was semantics.

It wasn't the only recipe where this was the case. In one recipe there was the addition of chilli which was the only difference (stuffed tomato - p104), and so on.

Then there are the recipes for (tinned) sardine sandwich with tartar sauce though it does have a recipe for tartar sauce if you like it (p72); or Soviet (tinned) salmon soup (p69);

There is "beetroot soup with goat's curd" (p99) though I prefer our old recipe for "borsht with floating cream islands". Goat's curd is an acquired taste that I don't have.

I realise that there are only so many recipes in the world, and it might only be coincidence, but it was a disappointment when I realised how many were similar to ones that we already have.

Then in the chapter entitled "Exploring Cheap Cuts" the author has recipes for pork ribs, duck and veal. I don't know where he shops but if he can get any part of a duck or cut of veal at a cheap price he's incredibly lucky.

There are also a number of specialist ingredients were the author says go down the road to your specialist supermarket or outlet, I live in a small village where specialist dealers are none existent. In fact the closest one would be in the city centre about 20 miles away, a long trip for one or two specialist ingredients. I take it that the author lives in the city were specialist dealers and markets are prevalent, unfortunately not everyone else does - not his fault, not my fault, just the way it is, but the assumption that all readers will have access to such facilities added a feeling of insult to injury.

In saying all that I must admit that some of the recipes are good, some are bad and some are ok-I-suppose, but that's a cook book for you. The problems are mainly mine, because I own so many of the families old and antiquated cook books there are usually one or two similarities in books (though this is the first time I have noticed so many similarities).

All I will say is: if you don't have any older recipes books to refer to, or you like lentils, spice and specialist ingredients then this book may be for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 1 July 2011
By 
C. M. Cotton "Chris Cotton" (Europe and USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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I adore cooking but have always been one not to follow recipes if they are too complex. I prefer simplicity, taste and texture of the cooking process and finished dishes rather than a monumental battle to get something right from a complex set of instructions. This book fits right into my niche of cookbooks I really like.

It is set out in 8 chapters looking at virtually all aspects of cooking, from morning breakfast to dinner parties to deserts. There are lots of recipes all with colour illustrations and simple instructions. I would not say the recipes are idiot proof but they as dam near fool proof as you can get. Many of the recipes take a normal food, such as baked beans and add some zest to it, to make it just that little bit better. There are plenty of vegetarian dishes and meat dishes to delight all types of taste buds.

This is more than a cookbook as in many chapters he goes into the history of a certain dish or genre. There are pages of interesting facts about the dish you are preparing, which if someone were to ask at a dinner party, makes you look as if you know what you are talking about.

For me this books' charm is in the simplicity of the recipes, the taste of the finished dish and the quality of the book, its descriptions and pictures. I would not use every recipe in this book, but overall I think this is a great book for a novice to medium skilled cook who wants simplicity yet quality.

I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Domestic Science for 21st Century Boys and Girls, 28 Jun 2011
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) (Paperback)
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First break open the book, go on, crack its back; teach it not to keep closing automatically.

Next inspect the endpapers, open them wide, check out this pleasant beaming man-child who is about to give you the benefit of his passion for eating, cooking and having a life as well.

Then envy his sister Mary who is `the greatest and greediest flatmate a brother could hope for'.

Note the sparing numbers of ingredients for each dish, no need to break the bank or dash to the store. Easy larder/fridge ideas for the late night munchies.

Slowly appreciate the fun photography, farm animals, retro radios, tempting platefuls, shopping baskets, store cupboard shelves, all as they should be - busy and bright.

Take in the chatty introductions to each recipe, the timely and useful hints, shopping tips and How To's. Even How To - Be a Happy Cook.

Have a bottle of Marsala handy by, as it frequently features as an optional extra.

Enjoy the feast of words, pictures and food, share amongst friends and family. Will serve any number.
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Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food)
Small Adventures in Cooking (New Voices in Food) by James Ramsden (Paperback - 6 Jun 2011)
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