I love cookery books and already have far too many, but I spotted this and couldn't resist taking a punt..... I'm so glad that I did! It truly is excellent, with some really original ideas for good family food, and, most importantly to my mind, the recipes actually are really quick to prepare using fairly staple ingredients. The Monday to Friday recipes are particularly good; our family favourites include chicken, cheese and corn quesa-d-easies and the amazingly quick and yummy Sausage, Pesto and Tomato Penne. These were devoured by my normally somewhat fussy 12 yo and 3 yo and even the baby loved them. One star off simply because I'd've have preferred more of these type of recipes - the book does go a little off track for my liking with recipes for entertaining and quite a lot of sweet options, which I don't really need. I can't fault the recipes themselves though. Throughly recommended if you're a busy parent who still believes in cooking great family meals for everyone to enjoy together.
I got this for Christmas and literally haven't stopped cooking from it since! We have eaten most of the recipes and they are all winners. Again, they are great for the children and all use straight forward, easy to get hold of ingredients- in fact there have been several occasions when I've been caught out or had to "rustle" up an extra meal and was able to find everything I needed in my cupboards or fridge so I think that makes it a fantastic book to have to hand. As with Fay, the instructions are short, clear and given in just a few steps. The book is arranged in sections with some ideas for quick weekday teas, weekend meals and grown up entertaining. I have used it for dinner parties and there were clear plates all round. The absolute best bit about this book is that at the bottom of each page is another short recipe suggesting ways to transform any left overs or ingredients into something else so essentially you have two recipe books for the price of one. Some of these "extras" are really worthy of their own full page - like the chocolate truffles.... yum! Tonight I'm cooking her veg chilli but as suggested at the bottom of the page, we will be having it with tacos rather than rice. My children aren't big fans of rice but really love eating a meal when they can help themselves to different filings and toppings and generally eat more this way. Jo has encouraged me to make my own guacamole, humus and other dips which I had no idea were so simple to put together and these are becoming a key feature with our weekend lunches. They go really well with a tortilla wrap, lightly brushed with olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, cut up in triangles, baked and then used to fob off the children that they are doritos! (This recipe in is her other book - see below) The pudding suggestions are inspirational - her version of a creme brûlée is brilliant, the raspberry cheesecake pots are so easy to make they take literally five minutes and the lifesaver hot chocolate pot cakes are amazing. I have saved several play dates by suddenly being able to cobble together a rather impressive looking treat from very few ingredients in under three minutes! Now if that doesn't make me a smug mum.....
A book written for busy parents who often struggle to find time to cook good, wholesome and tasty food for their family but in reality this is equally suitable for anyone with a hectic lifestyle or for somebody who just wants to get started with this cooking lark.
Despite speed and simplicity being the key for recipes in this book, quality is not sacrificed and neither are the recipes a variation upon a theme, using a mass of pre-prepared and pre-packaged ingredients. Of course, some shortcuts and prepare-ahead tips are provided but they still conform to the author's core values. The book is split into three key parts - Monday to Friday Survival, The Busy Weekend and Cling On To Your Social Life - with many chapters giving great advice and recipes in a chatty, informative, light style. No long navel-gazing essays here!
Full praise is due for how the recipes are presented! Someone has been listening! Measurements in both imperial and metric, a clear guide to portion sizing and even an estimation of preparation and cooking time. An essential pre-requisite for the stressed, harassed cook. Information boxes are spread throughout giving even more hints and tips to save time, save ingredients and to save money too. Photography used within is of a high quality and engaging, it is just a shame that not every recipe gets its own photograph.
Just browsing through the recipes finds some old favourites and some rather curious new things to try as well. One-Pan Hot-smoked Salmon Biryani or Ricotta, Parma Ham, Avocado & Chilli Croissants anyone? Make no mistake, whilst these recipes are family friendly they are absolutely not just recipes for children. You could serve many of these dishes for friends at an informal gathering too. The index at the end of the book also works well if you want to look up a main ingredient you have and don't know what to do with it - it is so much more than just a listing of recipes.
Once you start getting through this book and have been actively cooking for a while, you may start to wonder why you've been wasting money on pre-packaged foods from the supermarket for so long. Hopefully the author is already working on further books with even more recipes in the same vein. This is really a winning format. One final thing, this is not a dumbed-down beginners book - even the more accomplished cook may find these time-saving, tasty recipes of interest to add to their repertoire.
Fantastic book; well thought out, good layout, measurements are clear and in different units (great for metric users like us Continental types), photography is good and the little tips at the bottom of the page are mostly really inspired.
I've tried a few recipes so far and they have been perfect - a hit with everyone in the family, from husband to toddler and 7 month old baby. She might even dethroned Fay Ripley in my "Family Food Cookbook" shelf!
This is a great addition to our family cookbooks. Jo writes really clearly and her ideas are not complicated at all, but just greatd combinations of things, or interesting spins on recipes you know, executed well with inspiring photography too. There are also some great alternative suggestions and tips for freezing, serving leftovers etc so you feel that she appreciates the practicalities of family life in the kitchen.
I bought this because my weekly meals were repetitive and my 15 month old was refusing them all. I have a shelf full of cook books and I have cooked more recipes from this book in 3 weeks than I have my whole collection in all the years I've had them. I have predominantly cooked from the Monday to Friday and Busy Weekend chapters and everything has been quick, easy and tasty. The ingredient list is quite simple so no running to the supermarket for 1 off herbs, jars etc. Meals can be easily adapted by throwing in alternative veg & meat & most recipes have a tip suggesting what to do with the leftovers. This is the best family cook book I've used.
I have had this cookbook for just over a week and have already made quite a few of the recipes from the 'Monday to Friday Survival' section already and have been really impressed by how good they have been to eat and how quick they have been to make. I like the fact that most of the recipes have 'lifesaver' or 'leftover' ideas and tips to help save time and avoid wasting food and that some of the recipes have ideas of how you can 'tweak' the recipe with substitute ingredients to make it slightly different which is always useful when cooking family meals so that they don't become boring. It's great to find a family recipe book that has recipes that appeal to adults and children so that everyone enjoys eating the same meal. I am sure I will be using this book for years to come!