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on 15 August 2013
This is a smashing book. It is perfect for anyone who wants to entertain friends with delicious food but WITHOUT any of the attendant stress that often goes with cooking.

The emphasis is - and the title might be a bit of a giveaway here - on food you can prepare mostly ahead of time. Meaning that you can neck a couple of cocktails with your guests and, dare I say it, enjoy your friends' company, rather than sweat over a pan on your own in the kitchen.

To help with the "Do-Ahead" aim, recipes are formatted a little differently. Instead of a sequential list of "do this, then do that, then move on to..." the author breaks each recipes up into "between 1 and 2 days beforehand; 2 hours beforehand; immediately before serving". For the novice cook this is a godsend that makes things super-easy and confidence inspiring; for the experienced cook it is just another bonus that makes life simpler.

The recipes in the book aren't about complicated cookery. They are more a question of taking ingredients (often robust ones, and economical cuts), treating them well and putting them with other ingredients to make them taste even better. I'd call it honest, delicious cooking. The recipes read as if the author has a knack for combining flavours really well. And my take is that this is pretty easy cookery; it requires a little work and planning (well d'uh, if you are going to do something ahead of time that's going to be the case, isn't it?), but nothing looks particularly difficult, tedious or onerous.

Sure, there are other prepare-ahead dinner party cookbooks out there - but this one has food that I'd actually want to eat. The lamb shoulder stuffed with cockles looks EPIC and the mackerel stuffed with chilli, garlic and herbs has just jumped up my list of recipes to cook soon. My copy only arrived yesterday so I haven't cooked from it yet but the grub looks superb: lots of big flavours, interesting ingredient combinations (not avant garde - just really tasty-sounding stuff like salmon cured with fennel, orange and juniper, for example) and dishes that look current instead of dated. I reckon I'll leave the other prepare-ahead books I've seen for when I'm hosting an 80s themed party.

What else? Beautiful photographs; very clearly written recipes; a handy selection of menu planning suggestions; a good, short section with cocktail recipes; and some interesting looking easy bread recipes. I think this book will be getting a LOT of use. And I think I'll probably be using it on a day-to-day basis too - this food looks too good to save for parties only.
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on 29 August 2013
On first flicking through Do-ahead Dinners there were loads of recipes I wanted to try. Not only did they look tasty, they were also different and seemed impressive. And after all who throws a dinner party if not to show-off just a little bit.

Now that I've had a chance to try a few of recipes, I'm still very keen - what was once a good-looking cookbook is now a good-looking cookbook covered in grease spots and gravy. The results were great and this has rather less to do with my cooking abilities than it does with this excellent book.
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on 11 November 2013
I have shelves groaning with cookbooks - can't get enough of them - but have to say that not all of them find their way into the kitchen for use. This isn't one of those. Of all my recent additions, this is easily the most used. There are lots of classics and also lots of lovely original twists. It's robust food, which I like, and it is eminently suitable for entertaining. I've found it just as useful for creating family meals - indeed this is where my most need of 'do-ahead' food comes in. It's nice to find out just how long you can keep things for and also surprising what you can make so far in advance. The kids adore the jambalaya and I love the butternut squash with labneh. I'm also particularly fond of the chorizo twists - simple, but they go down a storm when you have friends for drinks. Love it.
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on 25 April 2014
oh dear. i had high hopes for this book. i have hundreds of foody books and thought the reviews for this one was enough to make me buy it, seemingly it was but i disagree with the vibe. people seem to have read it well but not actually rated it based on the end results from doing the recipes which is what i think a recipe book should be rated on. i would not have bought this book had i known. i'm not happy with it. it will go to a carboot sale and be sold for pennies. :-/
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on 8 August 2013
I've eaten at James' Supper Club and this book is just like that - welcoming, beautifully presented and full
of wonderful food. In a world of pretentious, know-it-all chefs who seem to want to show off with obscure ingredients and abstruse techniques, this is really refreshingly straightforward - and he's not too didactic about ingredients, which makes the whole cooking experience a lot less of a faff!
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on 11 September 2013
Really enjoyed this read - James has a really 'likeable' tone and the recipes are inspiring and gorgeous. The idea of cook ahead is ace and has already helped me pull of one supper for ten!
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on 28 August 2013
A perfect sized hardback book with stunning illustrations and a varied array of on trend recipes that can be put together at your own pace, in pockets of time running up to the meal. I love this attitude to cooking; it's so liberating and relaxing. As well as the staged preparation there are loads of tips for putting a twist on the dishes and using up leftovers. An inspiration!
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on 14 March 2016
Love this book. Instructions and style of writing really good. Could do with a few more inspirational recipe ideas. The 'do-ahead' part really is very well thought out and clearly explained. I bought it for this reason and have used many times. I lot of 'traditional' recipes - hence my comment about more creativity. Great range of deserts, superb flourless chocolate cake. Overall very good - perhaps would have benefitted from a few more pictures. I am a real fan of James Ramadan - I have his 'Do-ahead Christmas' which is a life saver.
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on 8 August 2013
Gorgeous recipes and gorgeous photography, this book is fun to read as well as to cook from. Taking the frazzled panic out of cooking, Do-Ahead Dinners is a must for anyone who plans to feed the masses. The dishes are modern and fresh, but comforting and there's a very appealing section of boozy cocktails at the back to get your shaker out for. This will certainly remain a very constant fixture in my kitchen.
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on 27 November 2013
you all need one of these. Best christmas present for all family and friends. inspiring and delicious....fab fab fab fab
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