Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
on 27 December 2011
I bought this book primarily with the aim of finding some fresh ideas for quick after work recipes. I haven't seen the accompanying TV series so my comments relate solely to the book.
Like many TV related cook books these days, this book has an annoying tendency to use arty, lifestyle photos of the author or decorative bowls of ingredients where photos of the finished recipe would be rather more useful. One example is the photo page adjacent to a recipe for penne with smoked trout. The photo shows several bowls of dried pasta of various types - penne not being one of them! As some other reviewers have already commented, there are problems with some recipes in that ingredients are listed but then seem to be forgotten about in the instructions, or the instructions are missing or confusing. For a book which in part is designed to inspire people to cook this is a major problem. A more experienced cook can probably figure out what to do when the method goes AWOL but a beginner might struggle.
The book is laid out in chapters as follows: Store Cupboard; Fats & Fabulous; Five Ingredients or Less; One Pot; No Cook; Fuss-free Extras and Sides. Each section contains a mixture of recipes from savoury to sweet. For me, this just didn't work - I find a conventional starter, mains approach much better for skimming through to find something interesting to cook or to plan a meal.
Main courses include lamb & sweet potato curry, various roasts, lamb & chickpea tagine; pork chops with sage and apple; pan-fried duck breast with redcurrant jelly sauce; yoghurt masala fish; spicy squid salad; battered prawn stir-fry; piadine - Italian flat breads with various toppings - easy to make. There are, though, lots of recipes which aren't really unusual and for which I have recipes already (in fairness I should say that I have close to 400 cook books and therefore my take on this will be different to a less experienced cook or one who has only a limited library of cookery books). There are also some which are really too simple to require a recipe. By way of example there is a 'recipe' for chicken with basil mayonnaise on toast which involves using shop bought mayo mixed with chicken, basil & seasoning - not exactly rocket science. Spread throughout the book there are plenty of good desserts such as cardamom and orange semifreddo; strawberry & nectarine tart; pear & cinnamon tart; St Clements syllabub; caramel rice pudding, baked white chocolate vanilla custards (gorgeous) and banoffee pancakes.
Owing to the issues around inaccurate instructions and a general lack of new, exciting dishes, I have only awarded 3 stars.