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If looking for a brief summary review of Allegra's new book; in a nutshell I would highly recommend it based on its wonderfully straight forward and tasty recipes. The book contains 200 recipes from Allegra's life; they are the type of recipes you want to keep within the family and pass on for generations to come. It is visually very pleasing to cook from being rich in colour images and text.

If you're a fan of LEON / Allegra's other books then chances are you will also like this book. I have posted a couple of images on this product page and a full recipe list at the end of this review.

Now for those of you wanting a more in depth opinion of the book, here goes...

This book has been eagerly anticipated in our household - especially by my wife who is big fan of Allegra's big and bold wholesome style of cooking. Having done some of the trial recipes and being a big fan of Allegra's my wife could barely contain herself when the book arrived - and it certainly does not disappoint.

First of all if you're a fan of the images and style of any of the LEON books or Allegra's "Bought, Borrowed & Stolen", as we are, then you will love the layout and style of this book, richly illustrated with beautiful images and descriptions (I have uploaded a couple of images to try and give you an idea of the general style / tone of the book).

The introduction explains the premise of the book; inspired by her mum's recipe book (a "tatty orange photo album which contained all her favourite recipes") which was sadly lost, Allegra sets out to create a legacy recipe book for her own daughter. By publishing her recipe book it will not have a chance of getting lost (sound logic and a legacy we are very happy to be able to purchase).

As this is a `cookbook for life', the book's 13 chapters are structured around many of life's big landmarks:

1. It Begins with Baking
2. Broke and Bored
3. The New Worker
4. Impressing the Pants Off
5. Just the Two of Us
6. The Art of Entertaining (Part 1)
7. Soup: Theory and Practice
8. Bun in the Oven
9. Family Favourites
10. Nursery Puddings
11. A week of Sundays
12. The Art of Entertaining (Part 2)
13. Grown Up Puds & Small Sweet Treats

As per usual we scout around online for recipes before we pre-order / buy any book. We've found this means we now own fewer cook books but we cook from them more often. With this book, at the time of writing, full colour extracts can be found on the publisher's website which is hugely useful and has allowed us to try out some recipes already. Recipes have also been released periodically on twitter so we were able to road test well in advance!

I have posted a full list of all recipes at the end of this review which hopefully will help you with your decision to purchase or not.

It's also worth pointing out that, as well as legacy recipes, Allegra also passes on advice on various double pages throughout the book, for example "steak heaven" whilst sounding like an amazing recipe, turns out to be Allegra's 10 point guide to... steak heaven. Which is hugely useful, we like to think of ourselves as knowledgeable food fans but still learnt a thing or two here (such as marinating steak will extend its fridge life for a few days!?).

Now down to the trial of the recipes from the book so far...

The first recipe we tried was the pear, parma ham and pecorino salad (by virtue of the fact we had pears that were going south). Granted there's not a great deal of cooking here and the recipe was relatively straight forward but the results were no less tasty; something you would want from a `legacy' recipe, and this tasty salad will be added to our own recipe bank.

If you buy the book and only try one recipe from it, can I suggest you go for the unassuming `Sea Bass, Lentils and Salsa Verde'. Trying is believing. Allegra's introduction to the meal quite simply states "this is a contender for my death row meal", and now it would be mine too. I thought the meal would be tasty but it was so much more than that, the lentils were so warming and satisfying I could've happily eaten these on their own but when combined with the fish and salsa verde it is pure perfection. It's from the section `just the two of us', but we certainly plan on making this for friends when they come around by virtue of its simplicity combined with such satisfying flavours.

Finally the Key Lime Pie, my wife made this last weekend and her initial trepidation of making something that looked like a cheesecake but with no cream cheese vanished upon seeing and tasting the end result. My wife is a proficient baker but had yet to come across a recipe like this that called for mixing a full tin of condensed milk (oh yes!) with eggs and little else (and limes of course). The result as Allegra had promised in the introduction was a "non cheesy cheesecake, with a top that's ballsy with lime zest and lighter than angel farts, anchored down by a ginger nutty base".

All in all, cooking from this book so far has been wonderful and there are so many other recipes we can't wait to try. It really does feel like Allegra has poured her heart and soul into this book and it is already our absolute favourite of hers that we own.

A final and further testament to how much we like this book; it has sincerely inspired my wife to begin her own recipe collection, that she hopes to pass on to our children in the future. She is fortunate in that her mother (who inspired my wife to bake from her childhood of helping in the kitchen) is still around to contribute to the collection of recipes. A two hour phone call at the weekend(!) means they've already made some headway on starting the book. So this is something of an unexpected but very happy further consequence of Allegra's book.

Recipe List:

1. It Begins with Baking

Apple Snow
Peppermint Creams
Cheese Columns
Crunch Topped Banana Bread
Marshmallow Toffee Crispies
Samson and Delilah Flapjacks
Gingerbread Families for our Times
Lemon Curd Tarts and a few Jammies
Never Fail Victoria Sponge
Squashed Fly Scones
Chinese Sausage Rolls
5 fab icings
Oaty Soda Bread
Dual Citizenship Pancakes
Pizza Dough
Peanutty Millionaire's Shortbread

2. Broke and Bored

Egg Fried Rice with `Everlasting' Veg
Chinesey Chicken Wings
Hangover Eggs
Melanzane Parmigiana
Not Pot Noodle
3 Ways with Lentils (Red Lentil Dahl, Lentil and Bacon Soup, and Puy Lentil & Herb Salad)
Top 5 Toast Toppers (Tabernacle Mushrooms, Chilli Tuna Melt, Pig Melba, Summer Snack and Pimped up Beans)
Flat pack cooking the Mexican way (aka Quesadillas)

3. The New Worker

Three simple kebab suppers become three fine sarnies: (cumin lamb kebab, chilli chicken kebab, lemongrass prawn kebab)
Five good dinners become five fun packed lunches:
Perfect chicken breast with chickpea pilaf becomes Lebanese chicken salad
Full on veggie noodle stir fry becomes pea and peanut noodle salad
Grilled salmon and couscous & courgettes becomes beetroot, salmon and couscous salad
Leaf-free grilled tuna Nicoise becomes Spicy Tuna Salad
Pork chop with lentils, pears and ginger becomes slightly porky lentil herb salad
All day Spanish tortilla

4. Impressing the Pants Off

This chapter contains two three course menus for seduction:
Steamy Asparagus and Loving Hollandaise
Thai Seafood Curry
Horny Chocolate & Chilli Martinis

Moules Mariniere
Hazelnut crusted Rack of Lamb and Dauphinois
Passionate Souffles

5. Just the Two of Us

Steamed Bream
Veal / Pig Holstein
Sea Bass, Lentils and Salsa Verde
Seared Squid with Harissa
Steak Heaven
Griddled Sirloin
Pan seared Onglet
Chateaubriand with Red Wine Sauce
Bistro Salad
Cardiac Carbonara
Spag CPG (Spaghetti with Chilli, Parsley and Garlic)
Spatchcock Poussins with Sweet Chilli & Yoghurt Marinade

6. The Art of Entertaining (Part 1)

Seared Chorizo with Quail's Eggs
Avocado and Black Bean Salsa Tortillas
Dressed Crab on Cuke
Ceviche Cocktail
Pear, parma ham and pecorino salad
Perfectly pink parfait and port jelly
Spring Prawn Dumplings and Chilli Dipping Sauce
Poached Trout with warm Potato Salad and Artichoke Crisps
Crab and Chilli Risotto
Risotto Primavera
Butternut, red onion and goats' cheese tart
Bacon and Egg Tart
Susi's Fennelly Sausage Pasta

7. Soup: Theory and Practice

Black bean and bacon soup
White bean and rosemary soup
Turkish Yoghurt Soup
Chow down Clam Chowder
Mushroom Soup with Meaning
Slow Cooked Fennel Soup
Roast Tomato Soup with Salsa Picante
Very Green Spinach & Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Beefed up French Onion Soup
Panacea for the Poorly
Doctor's Orders Stracciatella
Bootsie's Chicken Noodle Soup

8. Bun in the Oven

Bun in the oven buns
Butter Chicken
Beef Randang
Seared Mackerel
More than Miso Soup
A salad with integrity and value
PPP (Penne with Potatoes and Pesto)
Lambs Gamboling in Fields of Barley
Chicken, Chorizo and Butterbean Stew
Breast feeding Porridge

9. Family Favourites

Bl**dy big bol
Lasagne as you like it
The Lighter side of Chicken Pie
Coronation Kedgeree
Ali's authentic Aubergine Curry
Toad in the Hole with Cidery Onions
Macaroni Cheese
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Pork, Cashew and Sugar Snap Stip fry
A BBQ feast; burgers, coleslaw, corn and smoky beans
Shepherd's Pie
Mrs Johnson's Cheese Pudding
Salmon and Leek Fishcakes
Cheesy Lucky Dip

10. Nursery Puddings

Auntie Jam's Lemony Lattice Treacle Tart
BBB & BP (Best Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding)
How to Crumble... And the best example (Blackberry and Apple)
Baked Apples with Oats and Stem Ginger
Better than Bird's Custard
Brass up your Manners for Granny Trifle
Cornish Saffron Cake
Sussex Pond Pudding
Mango Jelly
Burnt Camp Rice Pudding
Mama's Meringues

11. A week of Sundays

Roast Pork and Crackling
Rosemary Apple Sauce
Roast Forerib of Beef, Yorkies and Proper Horseradish
The Mythical Art of Gravy Making
Roast Chicken Dinner
We love Bread Sauce
Sunday Lunch Soup
Aga Khan Lamb
Contemporary Nut Roast
Viatnamese Pot Bellied Pig with Pickled Veg
Beef Stew with Caraway Dumplings

12. The Art of Entertaining (Part 2)

Profiteroles for the people (or a mini Croquembouche for St Valentine)
Sea Bass Baked in Herbs and Salt
Bonfire Chilli con Carne
Pumpkin and Coconut Curry
Stateside our side (Thanksgiving Dinner incl a decent Roast Turkey)
Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Pie
Cranberry Sauce
Festival of Lights Latkes
Stained Glass Window Biscuits
Glittery Popcorn Tinsel
Full on Christmas Dinner: Roast Goose, That Festive Ham, Christmas Root Puree, Golden Breadcrumb and Herb Stuffing, The Other Must-Know Stuffing.
Raised Game Pie

13. Grown Up Puds & Small Sweet Treats

Pear Tarte Tatin
The Veale Family Drunken Grape Pavlova
British Summertime Berry Pavlova
Paradise Pavlova
Grilled Pineapple with Chilli & Rum
The Richest Chocolate Cake in the World
Crème Caramel (for Pa)
15 Minute Chocolate Mousse
Unashamedly 70s Chocolate Roulade
Easy Armagnac Truffles
Key Lime Pie
Frangipane Fruit Tarts
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33 comments| 90 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 December 2013
Heard the author on Radio 4 and thought her story was lovely about the cookery book from her mum and then passing the recipes on to her daughter. Thought this would be a great cookery book with recipes that really work and taste great too.
I wasn't disappointed. I've cooked a few recipes from the book for my teenage sons and they've loved everyone.
Really glad I bought the book.
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on 30 December 2013
Joyful recipe book - full of love for food and cooking. I'm not an adventurous cook at all but find Allegra McEvedy's style gets me excited about cooking - I've already cooked five recipes from this and have ear-marked several more. Good every day stuff for myself and my kids and also dinners to share and classics to master. Would make a great gift book as well as a staple book to keep going back to.
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on 19 November 2013
One of those rare wonderful cook books that are as pleasurable to just sit and read as they are to cook from. A fabulous broad range of recipes and I'm sure it won't take long for there to be notes on every page (as Allegra encourages). A book I hope to keep and pass onto my children.
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on 18 November 2013
A luscious, energetic and comprehensive guide to cooking for every event and situation in life, from being broke and bored in the student years, eating during pregnancy, entertaining many or a significant one through to all-inclusive Sunday lunches, the need for the Best Chocolate Cake in the World and a full-on Christmas feast. Allegra McEvedy's BIG TABLE BUSY KITCHEN is a veritable feast in itself, full of personal story and anecdote alongside innovative, scrumptious dishes like 'Spatchcock Poussins with Sweet Chilli & Yoghurt Marinade' and new twists on the tried, tested and traditional such as 'Toad-in-the-hole with Cidery Onions' Open this book and it's hard not to salivate before you've even reached for the chopping board. Wonderful.
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on 31 January 2016
Great book with lovely photos. The paper has a glossy sheen which is great when cooking and the book contains 380+ pages! There is the usual index in the back of the book and the front details the 13 sections the book consists of. Unusually we don't have starter, fish, pots, salads etc. But rather "broke and bored", "just the two of us" and "nursery puddings." Immediately you feel at ease with the book and not intimidated. The you get to the recipes, most of which have photos which although professionally taken, they are not glossy but presented in a realistic manner. The recipes themselves are food for the soul.from AGA Khan lamb which can be cooked with or without an AGA, to chine set chicken wings.
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on 19 November 2013
Written in Allegra's trademark conversational, honest and irreverent tone, this cook book is a heartfelt, cheering read aswell as extremely versatile and practical cooking guide to accompany work, love and life! Would make an excellent Christmas present for any parent having a go at doing it all
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on 28 February 2014
This is the first Allegra McEvedy book I've bought, and I'm inspired to buy more once I've worked my way through a few more of her recipes. Written with wit and a sense of fun, the recipes themselves are mostly achievable (so far, anyhow) by someone like me who is interested in cooking but no cordon bleu chef. I'd buy this as a gift for friends who enjoy both trying out new recipes, and also revisiting old favourites in a slightly different way.
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on 26 February 2014
This was my first cookery book on the kindle - to use on the kindle app on my ipad and was very surprised how easy it is to use although I am still slightly nervous about using electronic devices in kitchen whilst cooking.

The recipes in this book are good, straightforward no nonsense and family friendly. Have tried a few so far and have been hits with whole family.
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on 27 February 2014
Bought this for my Kindle, but find it hard to read on such a small tablet, so have used my Mac instead - much easier on that, simple to understand recipes and great photos. Only slight downside is that it's difficult to see a recipe list, so you end up trawling right through the "book" to find what you want (especially when there aren't page numbers!)
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