Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the host who wants to serve delicious food AND to relax, 15 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Do-ahead Dinners: how to feed friends and family without the frenzy (Hardcover)
This is a smashing book. It is perfect for anyone who wants to entertain friends with delicious food but WITHOUT any of the attendant stress that often goes with cooking.

The emphasis is - and the title might be a bit of a giveaway here - on food you can prepare mostly ahead of time. Meaning that you can neck a couple of cocktails with your guests and, dare I say it, enjoy your friends' company, rather than sweat over a pan on your own in the kitchen.

To help with the "Do-Ahead" aim, recipes are formatted a little differently. Instead of a sequential list of "do this, then do that, then move on to..." the author breaks each recipes up into "between 1 and 2 days beforehand; 2 hours beforehand; immediately before serving". For the novice cook this is a godsend that makes things super-easy and confidence inspiring; for the experienced cook it is just another bonus that makes life simpler.

The recipes in the book aren't about complicated cookery. They are more a question of taking ingredients (often robust ones, and economical cuts), treating them well and putting them with other ingredients to make them taste even better. I'd call it honest, delicious cooking. The recipes read as if the author has a knack for combining flavours really well. And my take is that this is pretty easy cookery; it requires a little work and planning (well d'uh, if you are going to do something ahead of time that's going to be the case, isn't it?), but nothing looks particularly difficult, tedious or onerous.

Sure, there are other prepare-ahead dinner party cookbooks out there - but this one has food that I'd actually want to eat. The lamb shoulder stuffed with cockles looks EPIC and the mackerel stuffed with chilli, garlic and herbs has just jumped up my list of recipes to cook soon. My copy only arrived yesterday so I haven't cooked from it yet but the grub looks superb: lots of big flavours, interesting ingredient combinations (not avant garde - just really tasty-sounding stuff like salmon cured with fennel, orange and juniper, for example) and dishes that look current instead of dated. I reckon I'll leave the other prepare-ahead books I've seen for when I'm hosting an 80s themed party.

What else? Beautiful photographs; very clearly written recipes; a handy selection of menu planning suggestions; a good, short section with cocktail recipes; and some interesting looking easy bread recipes. I think this book will be getting a LOT of use. And I think I'll probably be using it on a day-to-day basis too - this food looks too good to save for parties only.
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