38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2009
I have all the books written by Annie Bell with "Gorgeous" in the title and I think this is a very worthy successor. "Gorgeous Cakes" is probably my favourite cake-making book, out of my extensive collection of cake books, and I can see this one being top of the pile of Christmas cookery books that I treasure - every page I turn makes my mouth water! Annie's recipes are classy, delicious and just that little bit different, and so far they all work beautifully. And in fact this book was worth having just for the Christmas Cake recipe without added sugar - at last a cake my diabetic mother can enjoy! I think this book is wonderful, and I shall certainly be buying some more copies as presents between now and Christmas. Thank you Annie, you never let me down!
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book, which I think could almost be better titled "A Gorgeous Christmas Season". That's because, unlike many other Christmas cookbooks, this could be used from the beginning of November to cook ordinary dinners, as well as covering the big day itself thoroughly. For example, although the book begins with a plethora of canapés that actually look sufficiently unfiddly for me to imagine I could make them, that chapter is followed by one on pies which you could imagine using every day. Yes, of course you'll only get round to that wonderfully adult duck and pistachio terrine once a year, but the beef, brandy and chestnut pie, and venison carbonade, would make gorgeous dishes for a winter dinner party.
She also gives a few recipes I've wanted my whole life - since I was a little girl, I have had a mouthwatering memory of a restaurant in Cornwall where they served a salmon en croute. She has the actual recipe, flavouring the salmon with currants, tarragon, ginger and shallots. If you have a pescatarian Christmas coming up, this dish is to die for. And finally we get to see how French people cook their Christmas day Turbot!!
The bird recipes are all very tempting with some nice stuffings, the ham is glazed with Earl Grey (mmmmm) or sherry and quince jelly (mmmmmmmm). I'm not totally in love with her vegetarian suggestion, a squash containing veg, but that's only because I have a personal bugbear against veggie recipes that contain too many starchy veg and stop you filling up on roasties and stuffing. There is also a "homage to nut roast" made of spinach, almonds and goat's cheese, I will have to try making.
Apart from these essentials, the trimmings are all in the book too, from cranberry sauce to giblet gravy. And there's pages of devious ways with the leftovers like Coronation Turkey and ham hash. Amongst the puddings there are classics, and then some totally new things which make you think twice about opting for tradition - a white chocolate cheesecake, a cranberry and orange parfait (so posh), and a lovely cranberry jelly too. The cakes are good too, with some excellent decorating suggestions, and again, because I'm a bit of a Francophile, it's great to have a recipe for Galette du Roi, the French cake for the 6th Jan which helps you string Christmas out that little bit longer. If you are a total obsessive such as myself.
All in all a lovely book and I hope I've given some sense of the general flavour of it, the range of it. I haven't tried any recipes yet as it only arrived yesterday, but Annie Bell's reputation as an utterly reliable food writer does precede her and I wouldn't worry about trusting any of these. I think this is a very down-to-earth Christmas book with things you can actually imagine making, rather than just staring at the pictures wistfully. I thought it was very grown-up, in fact, catering for those who imagine a slightly more sophisticated Christmas, and I really hope it becomes an Xmas favourite.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2009
I own all the other cookbooks in the gorgeous series and absolutely love them, so I was eagerly awaiting this one as well.
Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book, if failed to delight me.
None of the recipes in here are exactly new. Yes, ofcourse I do acknowledge that christmas is a feast of traditions and in the end there are only so many variations you can come up with. However If you are looking to buy a cookbook to inspire you this christmas, I would by far recommend Nigella's christmas or even just her christmas section in 'Feast' as many christmas recipes are recycled from that.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2010
I bought this book because I admired Annie Bell's recipes in newspapers. I saw recipes of hers I liked in 'You' Magazine #Mail on Sunday supplement# and at the end of the article it advertised this book. I thought the recipes featured in the multi-page article were in this book, which definitely was the impression given, but they weren't. This book teaches me all that I know already and, unfortunately, so do my daughters, so I can't even give it to them. To me, it is just a spin on what we've always been doing for twenty years and more. So, I would only recommend this for novices who never cooked at Christmas. I was duped into buying it by 'You' magazine and decided not to return it because the return postage was too high. I think the only people who will get anything from this, will be those a lot younger than me and who don't have a raft of cookbooks. I was looking for something different and this is definitely not it. Lovely photographs etc. but, half way through, if one recognises stuff one does already for years, then it isn't the book for you. Now, of course, I'm wondering, where are Annie Bell's recipes that I did want in that article?
I guess I won't find those now. Nothing much new in content here. Sorry, Annie, because I was always a fan of yours in newspapers and their accompanying magazines. This one doesn't cut the mustard. My Mother was doing that before me. Buy this book as an early learning facility. And there it is an ace book.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2010
Avoid this like the plaque. I am an experienced cook and rarely have problems but every recipe I have tried from this book so far has been incorrect in some way. I wonder if the recipes have been properly tried and tested?