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If I were to sell all of the cook books that I own I would probably make myself a tidy sum of money. However, despite owning so many there are only a handful that I will regularly use, as I favour recipes that are easy to follow, reasonably quick to create and use everyday affordable ingredients. I would often struggle when carrying out a food shop as I'd be stuck for new ideas and both my husband and I were fed up with repeatedly eating the same types of meals. A book that I've owned for a good few years is 365 Dish a Day, which is a hardcover with a protective glossy sleeve and it was only last year that I picked it up from the shelf and took note of the recipes. What I favour about this particular book that makes it stand out from the rest of my collection is that a recipe is provided for each day of the year; each of which take into account the freshest ingredients available at that specific time. Whilst the book is smaller than A4 size and consisting of 320 pages, it is considerably heavy, which is due to the high quality of the thick glossy paper. The book begins with a short introduction where we are then taken to the first page of the calendar recipes.
A must for me with a cookery book is that it needs to consist of photographs of the completed recipes as I feel totally uninspired when simply reading text. It is not surprising that January generally consists of soups, pastas and warming dishes such as poussins with herbs and wine and grilled mince lamb. Whilst there are a few pages containing two recipes, the book mainly consists of one recipe per page accompanied by a clear mouth watering colourful image. The list of ingredients is easily identified as they are contained in a column on the right hand side of each of the recipes; all of which are fairly simplified and easy to understand using imperial and metric measurements. Unfortunately, the book does not provide nutritional values for each recipe and due to my husband's health concerns I would have found this extremely beneficial.
Perhaps I'm being a little picky here, but another issue I have is that the book does not provide preparation and cooking times and as the majority of us have extremely busy lives, this I feel is necessary. The time I spend cooking is important to me, particularly as I work full time, so I generally tend to seek out dishes that are quickly prepared although this is something I'm now familiar with having tried out a large number of the recipes. A favourite of ours is the breadcrumb chicken morsels, which are easily prepared using skinless chicken breasts, breadcrumbs, eggs and herbs. This can be created with the accompanying tartare sauce recipe, which I will occasionally create.
Another favourite of ours, which is the recipe for 19 March, is hunter's chicken and I'd never considered cooking with alcohol prior to using this book as I was a little apprehensive. However, the step by step instructions are easy to follow and I managed to add the red wine to the ingredients without having a swig or setting the kitchen on fire! My husband and I are not fans of convenience foods, particularly as we don't know what we're eating, so the majority of our meals are cooked from scratch so that we can be assure of quality and wholesome ingredients. An area of cooking that I've always been scared of is fish as I cannot bear the feel of it or the site of a pair of cold eyes staring up at me! In addition to this, I really did not know how to successfully cook fish or the correct seasoning to use. Consequently, at the age of 43 years I prepared and cooked my very first fish, which was a real triumph for me as I followed the roasted sea bass recipe with its delicious seasoning of herbs.
Not only does the book offer an array of savoury dishes, but there are also several desserts, such as banoffe pie and one of my all time favourites, namely rhubarb tart. Throughout the summer months we are treated to lighter dishes such as pastas and some interesting takes on salads. The book contains a whole host of vegetarian dishes, which has been very useful for me, particularly as I often prepare meals for my vegetarian sister. Consequently, she has sampled my layered vegetable bake and vegetable biryani. I cannot admit to having tried every recipe in this book, particularly as I cannot tolerate spicy foods, so I often adapt some of the recipes to meet with my personal needs.
Using this book has given me considerable confidence in the kitchen, as my way of cooking would previously have been to stick with what I know. I strongly believe that we are what we eat, which obviously goes hand in hand with our particular lifestyles, but I am a firm believer in healthy eating although I will never deny myself chocolate, as life would be so very dull! Talking about chocolate, the books provides a few recipes such as triple chocolate cookies, which are absolutely delicious, but I don't make them very often as one is never enough for me! This cook book has inspired me to be much more creative in the kitchen and I wish I had the time to further experiment; perhaps one day. A lovely finishing touch is that despite the book being titled 365 Dish a Day there is actually an additional recipe for leap year as the book includes 29th February. There is an index at the end of the book, which enables me to easily find my favourites without having to stick post in notes on to all of the relevant pages.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough as there is such a varied choice to suit all tastes with the recipes being easy to create. I believe I purchased my copy in the high street store named The Works and I have checked on Amazon for a price where it is available from £6.99 inclusive of postage and packing.
ISBN - 1-40547-313-4
Edited by Kay Halsey
Published by Paragon Books Ltd 2006
This review will appear on both Dooyoo and Ciao under the same user name.
This recipe book does as the title suggests, include 365 dishes as a gimmick cook book relating each recipe to each day of the year (plus one for a leap year!) this is worked out sensibly ie summer dishes during the summer(salads) and warm winter meals like casseroles in the later months.
I purchased from a door to door scheme, through work where a lady use to leave a box full of various products for you to browse through then collect a week later taking any orders, hence I only paid £3 through this book compared to the £9.99 rrp marked on the back cover. An absolute bargain I thought for so many recipes.
The cover is a striking red, shimmering away on my cook book shelf, it stands out like a sore thumb compared to my black or white Delia Smith cook books, which means I often feel drawn to it when I need inspiration.
The recipes are called dishes in the title and I think this is a good description as some are very basic dishes that really don't require a lot of cooking/following of a recipe. For example warm fruit nests made with shop brought filo pastry and just berries put into cooked filo nest's isn't a complicated Gordon Ramsey recipe. However for me (not an experienced or confident cook) this book and it's dishes/recipes are perfect. Yes there are more time consuming dishes such as the time consuming lemon meringue pie which after cooking I decided it really wasn't worth all the effort to be woofed down by my family asking what shop I brought it from! I did huff for a while!
Although the book is quite heavy, at an A5 size it's had to cram so many dishes in you don't get a lot of detail on the cooking instruction and not all the dishes have a photograph which I hate, I always like to look at a picture when deciding whether I want to make it or more importantly what it's meant to turn out like. Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meal book is much better at this but I prefer so many more of these recipes. One of my favourites is chicken nuggets, home cooked, fab for mums that have kids that want nuggets but you want them to eat nutritionally good food. Check out page 16, chicken breaded morsels, my niece and nephew loved these.
Dishes range from drinks like lemonade, starters, main meals, desserts, side dishes, snacks ..... My cover is a little creased as this is one of my most used cook books. While I'm mentioning the cover I will say it's a strange cross between a paper and hard back book. Firm card board I'd call it, good enough to stay open at the page you need and can be wiped clean (unlike my Jamie book!).
Certainly worth every penny of the meagre £3 I paid, the only reason it's not got 5 stars is due to at times the lack of photos or cooking details.
This recipe book is a great one to keep on hand in the kitchen. There is a recipe for each day of the year, including an extra one for a leap year, which follow the seasonal trends. I particularly like the variety of the dishes in the book as the recipes cover sweets, savouries, side dishes and drinks. They extend to a vast number of origins with dishes like balti prawns, Mexican seafood stew, California smoothie, bouillabaisse, rhubarb crumble and mini focaccia.
The dishes follow the seasonal trends with wintery meals in December, January and February such as beef stew with herb dumplings and lone star chilli; spring recipes in March, April and May like home-made turkey burgers and peking duck salad; fresh summery meals in June, July and August including monkfish with lime and chilli sauce and nectarine crunch and warming Autumn dishes in September, October and November such as steak and potato pies and chocolate brownie roulade.
The recipes provide great ideas to adapt and modify dishes which you may already make and provides new ones to try. I have tried a great number of these dishes and find the instructions easy to follow and very simply laid out. Almost every dish has a photograph to give you an idea of the final article. As the dishes follow a calendar style it means that the ingredients will be in season and readily available, this is great for those who grow their own fruit and veg, and will allow for some great bargain meals as the food should be cheaper in season.
Overall I think this is a great book with a variety of recipes for some inspiration, catalogued for whatever time of year you are in - or feel like!