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on 3 June 2011
Complete masterpiece. Delicious food, in easy to follow recipes that are fun to read, not to mention the beautiful photography, illustrations, and overall composition of the book. With endless tips, twists on recipes and education about ingredients, it shows us that great things are possible when you know how. Highly recommended book that suits all occasions and will keep performing again and again for years to come.
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on 29 May 2011
Lots of lovely accessible recipes in this book from jam to chilli vodka. Can't wait to start cooking from it!
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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a delightful debut.

One of my great pleasures is reading various food blogs on a regular basis - and we are now starting to see the talented voices from the blogosphere making it into print. James Ramsden has a clarity to his writing and a warmth to his cooking style - and it is clear to see why a publisher would want to reward him with a handsome first volume.

It is a well-designed book with quality production values - but what pleased me more was the interaction he is seeking to maintain with his readers. The inclusion of a twitter hashtag for each recipe is a little stroke of genius. I am also excited by the 'Tart', 'Tweak' and 'Tomorrow' hints/tops that are part of many recipes.

It is a down-too-earth collection of recipes - without being predictable or over-fussy.

Well worth cooking from, I reckon!
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This would be an excellent book for any one who wants, as the title says, to take some small adventures in cooking. Everything from breakfast to preserves are included and the recipes are all a little, but not too far, out of the ordinary. The recipes are clearly laid out and most require only a few ingredients. In addition most recipes have notes with suggested tweaks or variations to increase the scope of the book still further. Perhaps not a book for an absolute beginner, but certainly one to encourage a little experimentation while based on fairly straightforward techniques and ingredients.
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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is a joy to read, each recipe has it's own little description and photo, and most have several ways to introduce changes to the recipe. It almost feels as if it was written by one of your mates, rather than the usual cookery book filled with terms you've never heard of before.

Something i found fun is that each recipe has its own twitter hashtag, so for example, #cullenskink. So you can have a little discussion about what you've used! I've never seen this in a recipe book before.
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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wish this book had been available 15 years ago when I went to university. This is the best "All Rounder" Cookbook I have come across.

This is a very modern cookbook complete with twitter tags, chatty hints and tips and hangover cures. The cover is a neutral kraft binding with orange accents and as such is suitable for males and females and at a little over A5 in size doesn't take up much room in college bags.

The book is split into some of the chapters you would expect to see such as breakfast (or Morning Missions) and ideas for evening parties (or feeding the flocks). There are also some more eyecatching chapters on making the most out of your local shop or cheap cuts of meat as well as the first steps in making preserves. Each chapter has a colour coded corner so that you can easily find what you are looking for.

All the basic recipes and techniques are in there incluing Omlettes, Cheese on Toast and Roasting Chickens but many of the recipes contain extras refered to as Tweaks (additions to jazz it up, for example giving it a Italian feel or subsitutions to give it another twist) Tart (Spicing it up) and tomorrow (handy hints on left overs).

I can recommend the Elderflower Ice Cream on page 118 and the lamb kebabs on page 130... Next way "Two Ways with a Skirt"on page 54.

There are better books for the cook who is just starting out completely but for a cook who nows a little about the basics - this is perfect and no student should be leaving home this year without it.

As a more expirenced cook - I intend to keep this at work for those "hmmm what do I want for supper tonight" days
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on 28 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
James Ramsden brings a fresh take on cooking in his debut book. There's a lot in common with his blogging: bright, fresh design; very different chapters to standard cookbook fayre; all stirred together and sprinkled with hints and tips and served with plenty of little snippets on the side.

I read the book straight through and loved it. On the whole it's big on flavours, different combinations of ingredients and cooking on a budget - the latter especially where meat is concerned. James isn't stuffy about cooking - he wants us to have a go and experiment, so he sees each recipe as a starting point for our own kitchen adventures rather than being a definitive guide. This is a book to go to for plenty of inspiration. I also liked the Tart, Tweak and Tomorrow snippets after each recipe, giving ideas for variations, substitute ingredients (plus guidance on what can be safely omitted without losing on flavour where appropriate) and what to do with any leftovers.

The book assumes very little cookery knowledge as all the techniques and basic recipes are explained where needed. All the recipes are simple and have the minimum of ingredients to ensure hearty dishes full of flavour. However, the resultant food isn't standard beginner fayre. Go here to find a good recipe for rabbit rather than one for lasagne. Creative cooks on a budget will also find plenty of interest. There's plenty here for an every day kind of meal, right through to a full-blown pop-up supper club (which James also runs).

So far so good, but later I went back and tried to use the book in a more practical way and found it wasn't quite up to the mark. The different chapter headings to usual means it's harder to find that recipe you vaguely remember and want to try. Rather than chapters like starters and mains, or meat and fish which help you to home in on what you want, they're called things like "Corner Shop Capers" or "Feeding the Flocks".

There's also a bit of mixing going on: for instance the chapter on basic techniques ("Surfing the Stumbling Blocks") has an example recipe after each one. I initially thought this was a really good idea, but it adds to a recipe being harder to find. The indexing doesn't always help either as an individual ingredient in a recipe's title doesn't always guarantee it gets listed under that ingredient in the index. A couple of times I had page through quite a bit of the book rather than using the index or chapter headings to help me quickly find what I wanted.

Some of the hints and tips are hard to find too e.g. how to deseed a chilli isn't listed anywhere, so you need to remember it's in the "Va va voyages" chapter and/or alongside the spicy beef salad with mushrooms (on page 22). Vegetarians may also like to look elsewhere, especially if wanting inspiration for a main course as most of these are meat or fish based.

There's a nod to social media as each recipe has its own hashtag so readers can see what's been said already on Twitter, ask questions, or add their own experience of cooking a particular dish. It all adds to the book's spontaneous, trendy feel.

This is a fun book, which also looks like it was a breeze to put together. It's a pity that its practicality from a reader's viewpoint wasn't thought through quite so well, hence my four stars rather than five.
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