I found this book in the library a few weeks ago, and immediately liked the tag line: The innocent recipe book for filling your family with good stuff. It’s created by innocent, the smoothie company, and the whole book follows their slightly cheeky style. Most of the time this is fun, and welcome, but at times, I have to admit, I could have done without it.
That said, the recipes are excellent. There are lots of them for a start, covering many eventualities and occasions. There are also loads of mini-recipes, which I thought was good. For example, in the section on ‘Sides,’ there are 16 recipes for salads, potatoes, vegetables etc, but then you have the ‘Quick things to do with Veg’ section. This section alone goes through 12 different vegetables that appear frequently in most kitchens, and gives at least 3 interesting ways to cook them. That’s over 50 recipes for Sides alone.
So far, I’ve tried four of the recipes from the book: chicken nuggets, lamb kofte pittas, chop salad and homemade baked beans. They were all Tim’s requests, and all were really successful. Made using standard ingredients, they were simple to prepare and cook, looked good and were really tasty.
One of the real joys of this book is the ‘extras’ – little hidden gems that you find tucked away between chapters. For example, the ‘Things to do in 15 minutes’ page: genius.
There are short stories, cartoons, 30 steps to Sunday Heaven and so on. There are also informative sections on food, which are great. I was particularly impressed by the section on soups. Soups are all basically made the same way, and so the cookbook builds on this by giving different options for the base, the cooked flavours, the ‘hero veg,’ the stock and the finishing touches.
One thing I really like is that they haven’t tried to give everything a ‘spin’ – the recipes are exactly the kind that I would cook without a recipe book; this just gives me a few more ideas. I don’t need to start putting anchovies and chillis with everything.
My only issue with the book was the photographs. Often, I find it really useful to have a photograph of the finished dish, so that you can see how it is meant to look. While many dishes do have supporting photographs (often with a creative touch, like a hovering pinata over a burrito), too often the photograph is of a person, some flowers or a toy. In that case, I think the innocent humour has got in the way of good food.
This is a really good cookery book, and I’m seriously considering buying it for my collection – I’ve already renewed it at the library twice.