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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is not a recipe book for those who want to spend hours in the kitchen producing some exotic creation to dazzle their friends and family. Don't buy it if that is what you are after. As the cover says, it includes easy, family friendly recipes for busy people using relatively inexpensive ingredients. If you've got Gill Holcombe's first book, the style (and even a recipe or two!) will be familiar to you, with its no nonsense approach and good solid advice about what to put in your store cupboard, how to plan your menus and much more. Now you might think that you know how to do this - but clearly lots of people don't given the amount of food that we throw away each year. Similarly, you might think that you don't need a recipe for shepherd's pie, spaghetti bolognese etc because you know what you are doing - but lots of people don't, and this isn't usually the sort of ground covered by the celebrity chefs. I like the fact that the recipes are written with great flexibility around quantities and ingredients, although there are some strange ones amongst them. Spam fritters anyone? Chip shop curry sauce? Having said that, there are some gems as well, and for those of us trying to buy and use food more economically both to reduce wastage, and for reasons of thrift, there are some useful reminders here.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Reading through the initial chapters of this cook book entitled 'introduction' and 'good beginnings' gives the reader the impression that the author talks common sense about food and managing household tasks in general. The book, split into various chapters entitled `mood food' and `loose ends' makes the most of what you've got in the cupboard and celebrates leftovers. The recipes are inspiring and generally easy to follow and I've personally tried preparing the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Lamb Keela, both of which were extremely delicious! There are many other recipes I'd like to try out too, such as the burgers with blue cheese dressing. Some of the concoctions sound a bit gross though like toad in the mush, but with over 300 pages of content, there's bound to be something for everyone.

The only downsides that I can find with this book are that there are no pictures to accompany the recipes and due to the paperback nature and quality of the pages, it's difficult to prop it up in the kitchen whilst you're preparing meals. Otherwise an inspiring, eminently sensible cookbook which I'll keep on the bookshelf for the foreseeable future as the week plans will liven up my dull culinary repertoire!
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'll admit that I have a large collection of cookbooks but most just sit on my shelf rather than getting used. I'm always a bit dubious about new cook books but I genuinely think this will become a book that I use, or at least dip into, quite often.

The book itself is written in a friendly, down to earth style. There's absolutely no pretentiousness or food snootiness which immediately endeared me to the writer and the book.

The author seems a sensible sort with the items she suggests you keep in your store cupboard being basic, cheap and useful. She also says that you don't need expensive equipment and I really get the feeling that this book is all about good old fashioned, great tasting, family cooking rather than being fancy just for the sake of it!

Chapters within the book include: Good Beginnings; Mood Food (which includes everything from pot roasts to comfort food); Loose Ends; For Starters, Mains and Just Desserts; Something Sweet and A Lot On Your Plate (which is a 6 week menu plan).

I like the way she gives you the recipe and then says to modify it as you like. Even so, the recipes are easy to follow with clear instructions. She makes the unusual choice of not telling you how many people a recipe serves but since this is a family cookbook she notes that everything will feed a family of four.

I really enjoyed this cookbook. As with most cookbooks, I do prefer pictures to go along with the recipes while this one only has small black and white pencil drawings. It can't detract from the quality of the recipes and writing but it is a preference of mine.

If you are an established cook who likes fancy recipes and trying out complicated dishes then perhaps this isn't the book for you. However, if you're new to cooking or just want a recipe book with a chatty writing style that feels like it's something your mum or granny would have handed down to you then this could definitely be the cookery book for you.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Me and my wife love cooking and we are always interested in trying new recipes. This book is a really good addition to our collection. It's price is right and it includes lots of exciting and tasty recipes including starters, main course dishes, soups, desserts, dips and salads. This book could especially be a good starting point for beginner home chefs.

It gives you a lots of new ideas to decide your menu for the whole week. Leftovers are great problem in every home. The most interesting thing about this book is it gives you lots of ideas how to use these leftovers for your main meal. The tips are very handy with good lengthy but useful descriptions and the home made recipes emphasising on real taste are interesting to try. For example, home made custards and mayonnaise recipes.

Desserts are fabulous especially chocolate mouse, trifle, and hot fudge sundaes. Recipes are written in a very clear and easy way. The cooking times of most recipes are quite accurate as compared to many nonsensical time scales given in many other recipe books.

This book could use some pictures as random drawing of some of the dishes are not enough to convince its audience to try some of the mumbo-jumbo recipes that could otherwise be interesting to try. The book is also crying for a better recipe organisaiton as Gnocchi follow Potato Pizza with Fishcakes without a pause, or was it the other way around (you get my point!). Many Indian dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala (sigh!) will not suit the Indian taste but could be an easy introduction for non-Indian audience.

Overall there is a lot of verity and diversity of meals including almost every thing like chicken, liver, salads, with some great dips and dressings and lovely desserts. Highly Recommended!
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VINE VOICEon 22 July 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have already made two (three if you count the salad dressing) meals from this book and was impressed with both of them ('Sweet and Sour Chicken' and 'Caribbean Style Chicken Curry'). I would consider myself to be a competent cook but I do like to be able to follow a recipe, and when I just want something basic then this is the book I will probably be reaching for.

I like the fact that some of the measurements are approximate and the instructions are 'casual' - there is no enforced structure to a meal but enough to get you going. Overall a success.
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VINE VOICEon 19 July 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a new publishing house to me and if this is a sample of the sort of book they produce, then I will be sending for a copy of their latest catalogue.

The book is `for busy people with a lot on their plate' but more than that, it is for new cooks, with information about what should be in a store cupboard, a fridge and freezer, herbs and spices, measurings and equipment.

I'm a seasoned cook with a reasonable repertoire but I still find this book interesting with some new ideas to get me cooking. There's the odd sketch to bring a smile to your face as well as ideas for several week's cooking if ever you're stuck with no inspiration as to what to cook. There are some old recipes e.g. shepherds pie and macaroni cheese as well as `credit crunch cuisine'. A lot of recipes to browse through and enjoy. Could be a useful stocking filler for a student just off to university or a couple setting up home for the first time.

Yes, as you can tell, I really liked this book.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Fish Pies and French Fries is a great book to have handy, especially when you have kids around. Coming in later than expected and still need to cook dinner? No problem, this book has plenty of healthy and tasty ideas.

I found the recipes very easy to use and they are laid out really well on the page. Though my pre-release copy didn't have page numbers on the index, it was still easy to find recipes as they are grouped together in sections.

Having tried a few of the ideas here and given them to my picky kids I only have praise for this book. Ok, so it may not contain anything special, but as a quick guide to easy meal ideas it's indispensible.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
FISH PIES AND FRENCH FRIES, VEGETABLES, MEAT AND SOMETHING SWEET is crammed full with 165 recipes for every age and occasion.
Before you get to the recipes, there is a informative and easy to understand introduction, covering the following subjects; store cupboard ingredients, fridge and freezer, herbs & spices, chillies, stock, quantities, servings, measuring and equipment.
I love how broad the selected recipes are; there's everything from chip shop style curry sauce to nettle soup. The recipes and cooking instructions are easy to follow - no jargon included.
I've only just started to explore the recipes, and I like forward to using FISH PIES AND FRENCH FRIES, VEGETABLES, MEAT AND SOMETHING SWEET for many years to come.

1. Mood food

Classics 17
Comfort food 12
Soup 4
Pot roast 3
Curries 10
Cool dinners 8
Classic salads 3 (2 salad dressings)
Credit crunch cuisine 12
Kid's favourites 14
Pizza 3

2. Loose ends

Leftovers 9
Potatoes 8
Fishcakes 4
Take one 5

3. For starters, mains and just desserts

9 full meal plans for when you've gained confidence in the kitchen (30 recipes)

4. Something sweet

Desserts 16
Sweet pizzas 5

5. A lot on your plate

6 weeks worth of quick and easy meals selected from the recipes you've now learnt.
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VINE VOICEon 26 August 2009
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Most people who have been students, will be aware of student cookbooks: usually taking the reader by the hand, to guide them through a range of simple, fairly easy dishes. 'Fish pies and French fries' has a similar feel, though is perhaps a step on from the student versions.

There are loads of recipes in here, some very simple such as Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta, through to the more sophisticated like Fresh Mackerel Fishcakes with Lemon and Roquefort. There are replications of fast-food favourites like Southern Fried Chicken and Keema Kebabs, standard British classics like Cottage Pie and more unusual fare in Hot Tomato Jelly and Nettle Soup.

Recipes are easy to follow with clear instructions and a certain amount of leeway when it comes to quantities. They are like the sort of recipe you might write down for a friend and have the room to add your own touch.

The organization is somewhat haphazard, which is one of the book's main drawbacks, thankfully the index is extensive. A useful feature is the menu section where whole three-course meals are planned for you.

Not for foodies or wannabe Jamie Olivers, this book is more useful for everyday family eating and is all about practical and (usually) affordable meals.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
OK, I'm a lazy cook - but I admit it! I work full time and when I get in from work the last thing I want to do is start preparing time-consuming meals with loads of ingredients, so I go for the easy option of quick, unhealthy 'junk-food' or something I cooked and froze in advance.

This looks like just the book for me. It's full of recipes ranging from the good old classics to some more exotic and the best part, they're quick and easy to prepare. There's also a handy section on basic ingredients to keep in your store cupboard and a planned menu section with shopping lists included.

There are some great tips sprinkled throughout the book; I didn't know that if you put an apple in with potatoes it keeps them fresh for up to eight weeks!

Although I've only tried a couple of the recipes, they were clear, easy to follow and tasty. The Swedish Meatballs & Cream Sauce is one I'd definitely recommend and I will never buy frozen hash browns again, my own made from the recipe in this book were wonderful!

This is a book I will keep handy on the kitchen shelf and use again and again! Not quite a reformed 'lazy cook' yet, but this book will help me get there!
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