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Lovely dinner party ideas - nothing too complicated, and designed to be made ahead. There is sound advice about planning & preparation which would be useful for the inexperienced. There are some suggested menus given by season and theme e.g. a spring French brasserie menu of celeriac remoulade, steak tartare, roast chicken with shallots & tarragon with chocolate pots with cherries to finish. Other menus include a barbecue menu, a Moroccan themed meal, south east Asian, rustic Italian & Greek.

There are lots of nice canapés, all easy and quick to make ranging from saganaki bites (fried halloumi cheese) to pork & ginger potstickers. Starters include a range of salads, soups and seafood dishes of which I would mention two soups - a chilled sweet corn soup and a chilli tomato chicken soup with tortilla strips. There is a good selection of mains too, including such things as crab, saffron & watercress tart or for vegetarians a spinach, mascarpone & roasted garlic tart; mini meat loaves with thyme tomato sauce; Persian chicken with walnut & pomegranate sauce; rosemary & olive lamb stew; Sicilian seafood stew; cumin-crusted pork with romesco sauce. It has to be said, some are just variations on old favourites with a bit of extra primping to elevate them from the everyday e.g. lemon gnocchi sorrentina, butternut squash lasagne, baked orecchiette. A whole chapter is devoted to barbecue food - for example, butterflied leg of lamb; swordfish with red onion & oregano dressing; steamed fish parcels with coconut cream, chilli, coriander & lime; snapper with chilli vinegar sauce. The sides dishes chapter provides supporting dishes for the range of main courses e.g. corn cakes with chilli & spring onion; green bean, hearts of palm, tomato & basil salad; date & lemon couscous.

There is a final, short chapter covering desserts - rhubarb cinnamon tarts, triple-layer almond meringue cake, chocolate layer cake - although I wasn't overly-impressed by the offerings here.

All told, a useful little book.
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on 21 March 2010
Having been a fan of Jennifer Joyce's previous cook books, especially her 'Diva Cooking', which was my staple dinner party inspiration, I was thrilled to get a copy of 'Meals in Heals' her latest book.
As the title suggests, many recipes can be prepared in advance, leaving time to relax and enjoy your own dinner parties. The book has lovely retro graphics and gives great ideas for menu planning, whether related by season, country or occasion. There is useful instruction on everything from the cooking, through to the presentation and ideas on what to serve each dish with.
I love the combination of ingredients in Jennifers recipes which creates food with great flavours.
So far, from the book, I have cooked the 'Cumin-crusted pork with romesco sauce' and ' Triple-layer almond meringue cake with blackberries' - Truly Delicious!
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on 23 March 2010
Being a Jennifer Joyce devotee, I was thrilled to see Meals in Heels. I was a bit worried that there aren't photographs in the book - as a sometimes unconfident cook, I like a bit if visual reference. But I was worried for no reason. As always, Jennifer gives you all the prepare-ahead tips and helpful hints that you need to ensure that your dishes come out looking and tasting exactly as they should. I don't think I'll try a Julie and Julia on this, but I am certainly going to try as many of these delicious and exquisite recipes as I can. And the book is a great gift for your foodie girlfriends. (P.S. And check out Jennifer Joyce's Meals in Heels food blog for more great recipes and food ideas.)
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on 21 November 2010
Meals in Heels is the perfect cook book for Christmas and hurrah - no celebrities! Just really interesting ingredients which makes you think about food a little differently and gets you excited about cooking again. I rustled up an amazing dinner for six, cooking Chinese style chicken and ginger lentils (delicious) followed by a pudding I've always been too nervous to try - panna cotta with honey, mint and blood orange. Sounded quite daunting but Jennifer Joyce's friendly, simple and to the point instructions made the whole thing a total breeze. I've already ordered a stack to give to my girlfriends for Christmas and future b/d presents. Way more fun than another scented candle! The book is gorgeous to look at, as well as to cook from, and her posh shepards pie is already establishing itself as a firm family favourite. I urge you to give it a go! You won't be disappointed.
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on 13 March 2010
I approached this book with a little trepidation because I tend to like photographs in cookbooks, however the lack of them is more than compensated for by the gorgeous recipes. As a caterer I am a stickler for accuracy, and these recipes really work. The concept of preparing a glamourous dinner ahead of the guests' arrival and having time to buff yourself to perfection will appeal to those of us who like to have fun at our own parties. Chicken with sherry, dates and almonds has been served to great acclaim in our house and I can't wait for the warm weather to arrive to try out some of the barbecue ideas. As with all Jennifer Joyce's books, much attention of given to styling and do-ahead tips so you can achieve a beautiful presentation at home having done most of the hard work hours before. However style is nothing without taste and all the recipes I have tried so far deliver sumptuous flavours without being complicated to prepare. I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of this book and so will you.
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on 26 April 2010
This is an excellent 'girlie' book - I bought it as a gift for my daughter who enjoys entertaining regularly and she loved it. I have since bought another for myself! Good and mostly pretty easy recipes, great tips and easy to read/follow. Good fun.
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on 16 May 2012
I have a copy of this and have ordered another as a Christmas present for my god-daughter. It's fun and the recipes are interesting without being complicated or long-winded. It would suit either someone just embarking on dinner party cooking or a time-poor experienced cook.

The absence of pictures isn't a problem. Cookery book pictures are so tweaked and enhanced by stylists that it can be very daunting when your creation doesn't look like the picture in the book. Did you know that mashed potato is the cookery stylist's stand-by? It's used for photographing everything from ice cream (it doesn't melt under the lights) to whole deep-dish pies (no danger of the pastry collapsing into the filling).
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on 21 January 2012
I like the idea of this book and it's great to have a hardback. The only downsides are that a page fell out straight away (no, I didn't bend the spine back) and it has no pictures :( I like to see what I'm cooking! Apparently the author set up a website to address this but I could only find a small selection of pictures on it and what I cooked wasn't there. Having said that I made two dishes for a dinner party and they went down very well with the guests, and I was relaxed because it was all able to be made ahead of time. I would recommend, but it's not on my favourite list.
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on 15 June 2010
What a lovely book! Inspirational, but reasonably easy to follow recipes. And so many new ideas, and great tips.
I have already done two dinner parties, armed with the book and everyone was thrilled. And - I did my first pudding - tiramusi, never thought I could pull that!
Also, even if you don't care much about cooking, gorgeous gift to any woman who knows how to hold a pan. I am going to order couple of more for my girlfriends!
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on 20 April 2010
Can't say I am a diva in the kitchen, but this book is definitely taking me closer to that goal! The simple (especially needed in my case) instructions that really work and the taking-the-heat-off forward planning elements are just perfect for anyone who wants to entertain without the strain!! The fab, retro illustations make this book a gorgeous girlfriend-gift too! Thanks to Miss Foodie (see prev. review) I have also subscribed to the Meals in Heels blog and you're right it's a lovely additional source of food-related tips.
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