With freezing temperatures and snow on the ground I thought it was time to start cooking much more heartier and more robust family meals. So when I saw the GF 101 Slow-cooking Recipes advertised for under £5, I thought "why not"? Even if I found only a couple of recipes I liked out of the 101, it would be worth it. So to discover that it was a veritable treasure trove of ideas for delicious family meals was a real bonus.
Many of the recipes are all staples (or variations of staples) that one would expect to see in most cookbooks found in British homes - Lancashire Hotpot, Beef & Stout stew, Roast Chicken, etc, but there are others for the more adventurous, such as Rabbit & Mushroom Hotpot & Guinea Fowl with Mustard & Lemon Roots. Often, I find cookbooks either assume too much knowledge or speak to you like you're a complete idiot - the tone of this book however was just right with enough information to stretch the kitchen proficient and novice alike.
Whilst the emphasis is on meat dishes (and as an unreconstructed man who loves his meat this is not bad a thing), there are however a fine array of vegetarian dishes within this book which is great for those occasions when one has to provide a meal for non meat-eaters. I haven't tried any of them yet but the Moroccan Tagine and the Butterbean & Squash Crumble look delicious. Which brings me on to another thing I like about this book, it takes the fear out of using unusual (well in my household anyway) ingredients. I've never cooked with a squash before or with haricot beans but having now done so (at least once) I most certainly will do so again. It's also nice to have dishes from around the world to be able to try. Slow cook recipes from China, the Catalan region, France, the UK, Greece, SE Asia, etc are all contained in one little book with some great pictures to show you what it's supposed to look like. And for those of us with a sweet tooth, there are a number of cakes/puddings/desserts to try. Again, I haven't tried any of them as yet but I do like the look of the Squidgy Lemon-Ginger Cake and the Apricot, Almond & Ricotta Cake.
If I had to be critical of anything it would be the desire for more fish recipes (we don't eat enough fish in my household principally because I don't really know how to cook it properly). There is only one fish recipe - Oven-poached Salmon with Pepper & Basil Sauce - but given the cost of whole salmon, it is unlikely I will be trying this one anytime soon! I guess, generally speaking, fish isn't meant to be slow-cooked as it's easy to overcook it, nevertheless it would have been nice to have a couple more choices.
So all in all, I really really rate this cookbook! The choice of recipes, the tone, the different ingredients etc, work to make this a superb addition to anyone's bookshelf. Add to it the fact that it costs less than a fiver, it really is superb value.
PS, my favourite dish so far is the Spiced Lamb & Squash Stew. In my opinion however, the recipe, whilst delicious, lacks a certain punch. If you, like me need a bit more fire in your belly, especially in winter time, why not try adding a scotch bonnet (or 2!) at stage one (with the onions, garlic and ginger). It definitely gives this dish a much needed pep up (although my wife, who doesn't share my love of spicy food might disagree with me!)
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