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on 14 November 2011
I was extremely pleased when I saw that Marie Elia was releasing another book. The very best thing about Maria Elia's books are the inventive flavour combinations... she is genuinely talented in this regard, and shares it so well. I was already a huge fan of her first book, The Modern Vegetarian, but I've never used it for the whole family and preferred to save it for dinner parties. My family isn't vegetarian (but I prefer to eat like one generally), so I was hopeful that there would be a broader offering. I think this book is fantastic! I have tried a few recipes already and believe they are marginally less complicated than her first book but still hugely full of flavour. My husband and children (8,6 and 3) made the Meatloaf recipe this weekend and everyone was extremely happy with it: it's quite adult for a meatloaf and no one was complaining. Even better the next day, too. I can't think of a better way to elevate children's tastes and there's a lot more on offer here so I know we'll be using the book.

A few things to note:
- the book is beautifully produced, with a great cover that allows the book to stay flat while using it;
- this might not be one for a truly beginning cooks, as it does assume that you know how to treat some of the ingredients. That said, it's entire basis is to make you think about combinations and substitutions, and making the dish one's own, so is hugely instructional and adaptable;
- but there are a few odd, less accessible ingredients that reviewers will inevitably moan about;
- and there are typos in the first addition... more than one or two. These will get sorted, so you might want to ignore overly critical reviews.

I don't generally review things -- and my cookbook collection is massive -- but I genuinely hope lots of people find this book and get some enjoyment from it!
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on 22 August 2017
Favourite cook book ever. It works if you follow the recipe to the letter but, better still, works as a guide and encourages you to wing it a bit! I've always 'mind-mapped' recipes and played around with them so Maria Elia feels like a - much more talented - kindred spirit. Fantastic flavour combinations, loads of suggestions for taking a recipe up a notch, or swapping in/out ingredients. Carrot hummus is a total winner.
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on 4 January 2012
I got this book for Christmas, and was really happy with the new addition to my cookbook collection.
The layout is really easy to follow, and I really love the idea of the brainstorming diagrams, which are used at the start of each section. I am by no means a novice in the kitchen, but there were still some really good ideas to take away from this book, and I liked how a lot of the recipes are actually very healthy as well as flavourful. I'm very glad to have found another cookbook that encourages experimentation with flavours from herbs and spices rather than the 'add a giant handful of salt and fat' mentality that a lot of books seem to have.

One I have already made, and loved, is hte lamb meatballs, although I used one of the variations suggested rather than the main recipe. That is another thing to cherish about this book - variations are offered, and the recipes are numbered so you can note down your own variations and experiments on the blank note pages in the back of the book more easily.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to experiment a bit more with flavour. This, along with Flash Cooking: Fit Fast Flavours for Busy People have really opened my eyes even more to the exciting flavour combinations you can create with a few well-chosen herbs and spices. Love it!
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on 13 November 2011
This is a superb cook book with recipe content sections for -:Birds, Pork, Lamb, Beef, Game, Oily fish, White fish, Seafood, Grains & Pulses, Roots, Aubergines, Greens, Dairy, Berries, Stone Fruit, Apples & Pears, Citrus Fruit, Chocolate, Extras and Blank Pages to add your own info.

A real good quality and beautifully presented book with good photos, easy to read ingredient list and clear and easy to follow instructions.... and importantly fantastic recipes.
Already tried the Watermelon & Seafood Curry as I was curious of the use of the watermelon in this recipe. I can confirm its an absolutely great dish.
I have already too many cook books before I bought this but glad I purchased it and I know it will be one that continues to get plenty of use.
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on 14 February 2013
The contents of this book have been more than adequately covered in other reviews. I want to tell why I like it and, hopefully, identify like-minded home cooks who should also add it to their collection.

I have a lot of very good cookbooks, and literally thousands of recipes to chose from every day. Great! - isn't it? Well, no - because I'd become lazy. With access to so much information I tended to pick a main ingredient, found a recipe I fancied, and shopped for it. I'd stopped really thinking about my food and fitted my menu into somebody else's pigeon-hole.

Maria Elia's book challenges this approach by taking you through the thought processes she goes through professionally when devising a dish. With a section for her 18 favourite main ingredients, each section starts with a mind-map illustrating some associations conjured-up by a particular ingredient. Then, using her knowledge of flavours, Maria presents several recipes based on the ingredient, together with suggested variations and some explanatory text about the flavour combinations chosen. I use "The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit to help me with this phase of devising a recipe. The book concludes with a section listing each recipe with a sample mind-map postulating different flavour and texture combinations to change the recipe. There is also space for you to jot down your own mind-map for the recipe variations.

This wonderful book succeeds on every level. The design and presentation by Kyle Books is quirky but extremely attractive and effective. It also works as yet another recipe book. The recipes are interesting, modern, full of flavour, and, although not too difficult, most will challenge less-experienced cooks. They are restaurant quality rather than Jamie's 15 Minutes. But, to me, the essential value of this book is that it inspires you to create by optimising what you already know and ensuring that your kitchen experience gradually and painlessly improves and grows. Rather than cooking what you are told to cook, you learn how to create an infinite selection of dishes, and how to adapt them to available ingredients.

Beginners would not find this book immediately useful, it does assume a few skills and quite considerable knowledge. It also has a few typos that seem to upset some people more than others. However, those with some experience, who are finding cooking more of a chore than the pleasure it used to be, will find that this book could set them well on the way to recovery. I will certainly be using it for years to come. It will save me a fortune in buying cookbooks - Enjoy!
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on 1 June 2013
Having bought Maria Elia's first book (The Modern Vegetarian), I had her second book on pre-order and when it arrived, I tore open the wrapping and dived straight in. This book is not vegetarian; instead focussing on a number of key core ingredients around which recipes are built and avenues of flavour and texture explored. This is one of the most used cookbooks I have ever purchased and every single time I cook one of the recipes for friends or dinner guests, I get multiple requests for the receipe. I have bought this book so many times for friends and I can't wait for the next book from this inspirational chef. Not alone is this book fabulous in terms of its recipes, but it really does encourage you to create your own variations. I can't recommend it highly enough. Enjoy!
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on 4 March 2013
Interesting, easy to follow recipes that promise good flavours, using good ingredients... and so far results have been pretty good.
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on 10 December 2011
Another great book by Maria Elia. Although some of the recipes have unusual ingredients they complement each other so well, and you will be sure to impress your guests.
A great book to have on your bookshelf.
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on 13 November 2014
Bit disappointed with this book I bought it after I watched some the series on tv but some of the recipes are not included in the book.
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on 17 October 2011
This is Chef Maria Elia's second book I have purchaced.The book gives you lots of ideas I am going to enjoy cooking some of the recipes.
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