Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Great inspiration for cooking for larger numbers with confidence
on 21 September 2012
I have very little experience of catering for more than about 4 or 5 people at once, but having managed to host 8 people for Christmas lunch last year and more importantly having survived and indeed enjoyed it, I thought that this book might give me ideas to inspire me for feeding larger numbers and it has.
There are some really delicious recipes in this book and you can cook them for large numbers, or you can cook and eat over a number of days. I cooked the Autumnal Panzanella, which is recommended as a contributory part of a picnic spread for 8-10, but I cooked it and served it alongside grilled pork chops and some extra mixed salad leaves for a meal for 4 and it was perfect (my friends instantly requested the recipe!)
I made the sticky date and ginger cake for a pudding night for a group of mums I meet regularly and alongside a scoop of good quality vanilla ice-cream (I used Kelly's), this was termed by all as "simply divine!" I loved the fact that I could make this the night before and then just warm through before my guests arrived, but it appeared to them that I had just finished baking it (when in reality I was busily using those valuable minutes between putting the children to bed and my guests arriving to tidy up the stray toys etc!)
Indeed there are plenty of recipes that allow you to prepare in advance, or which are deceptively easy to prepare/cook. Those that can be made in advance include a lovely pumpkin salsa, which can be made up to three days ahead; the baked white chocolate and rhubarb custards can be made a day or two before your event; the deep and chewy flapjacks to take "glamping" can be kept for up to a week. There are vodka infusion ideas - from rhubarb or pear and cinnamon to the more daring lavender and rosemary - these are great experiments and potential homemade Christmas gifts. I have a strawberry infused vodka, which only needs five day to make and I can't wait to try.
All of this is in keeping with some of the general rules of the book - which are laid out on pages 26 and 27, helping you to keep your head whilst cooking for a crowd - these are good principles and take the fear out of cooking for more people.
There are a number of drink recipes included for a variety of social gatherings (in addition to the previously mentioned vodka infusions) - I am most looking forward to making the boozy hot pear and rum punch for a winter warmer on a cool autumnal/winter's evening and then when the weather warms up again, the non-alcoholic pineapple and ginger fizz or the basil limeade!
Some ideas conveyed in the book are almost impossibly unlikely for me ever to consider, such as the Firepit, but should I ever meet anyone adventurous enough to help, then I have not only two pages of directions of how to build and cook with a firepit (on pages 140-141), but also the perfect stuffed venison recipe to crown it with! (By the way, there are directions to cook this on a Weber-style barbeque or even in a hot oven, which might be more accessible to most of us!)
This book is beautiful to look at, with beautiful photos, with muted colours, a lovely padded hardback book - this would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves food and cooking it!