200 Meals for Two: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook (Hamlyn All Colour Cookery) Paperback – 1 Mar 2010
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The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook series has enjoyed a fantastic launch, selling over 150k copies since spring 2008 Provides dishes specifically for two people, whereas many other recipe books cater for parties of four or six Ensures that you avoid wasting either money or food
About the Author
Louise Blair is a home economist and food stylist, specializing in healthy recipes. She is a consultant for Diabetes UK and is the author of a number of books including Delicious Cooking for Diabetes, Low GI Cookbook and Great Gluten-free Baking, all published by Hamlyn.
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This book isn't just about quantities and cooking times. There is an omnipresent whiff of romantic living in these pages, ranging from the blueberry french toasts which kick off the brunch section to the summer fruit slush which finishes the book off, going via crispy chicken with salsa verde and moroccan lamb with couscous on the way. Moroccan lamb with couscous -- astonishingly -- takes a total of 15 minutes preparation and cooking time. In fact, aside from the lamb burger and roasted tomato at 1 1/2 hours and the tarragon chicken with potatoes at 70 minutes, almost all of the recipes in this book fall into the 15-35 minute range. In other words, they recognise the shortened available time-spans that seem to go with being a couple without adherents.
All the recipes in this book are simple. Just occasionally they are oversimplified to the point that they become difficult. When instructed to 'make the hollandaise sauce', for example, I had to read it twice before I understood that it then followed with the instructions -- it rather gave me the initial impression that I'd missed something earlier. On the other hand, all of the recipes are unusual and in a certain sense delightful, despite the relatively few processes and short preparation times.
If you want to spice up your life together by upgrading the menus, this isn't a bad book at all.
Unlike many of the Hamlyn 200 series the recipes aren't separated into food groups, like Beef & Pork, Fish and Vegetarian but instead are presented for different mealtimes like Brunch, Quick Suppers and Special Occasions. The only problem is that once you've enjoyed dishes like 'Ricotta & Pear Drizzle', 'Crispy Chicken with Salsa Verde' and 'Cherry Clafoutis' it's quite hard to go back and relish anything you just scraped out of a plastic tray - but maybe that's no bad thing?
Unlike most of the books, however, the chapters in this are separated not by type of food (meat, fish, etc), but by the sort of meal. The chapters include brunch, light bites, quick suppers, special occasions and desserts. The brunch section has some nice ideas - chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms on toast, and 10-minute drop scones with dried fruit for example. The light bites section is less inspiring - a lot of not-very-interesting salads, a few mayonnaise-laden dishes and, weirdly, some crab shavings wrapped in lettuce. There is a nice-looking recipe for pear and gorgonzola mini pizzas though. The quick suppers section has similar meals, including quite a few pastas. I didn't see many that I fancied trying though.
The special occasions chapter picks up slightly, but some of the dishes - homemade burgers or vegetable pasta for example - were not things I would associate with a special night in. There are a couple of attractive recipes for tarragon chicken and marinated quail though. The desserts section is probably the best section of the book, with cute individual cheesecakes in either vanilla or chocolate, lavender syllabub and a yummy looking summer fruit slush.
This definitely isn't the best of the Hamlyn books that I own. The portions for all except the special occasion meals seem very small, and the range is not particularly inspiring. I would rather use my other Hamlyn books and just halve the ingredients, or freeze half of the finished dishes. Plus, as with all other Hamlyn books, there are no calorie counts or nutritional information, which is a pain. I can't really give this more than 3 stars, but there are some nice ideas within it and it's not expensive, so it wouldn't be a wasted purchase.
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