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When sorting through my overflowing cookbook collection, I was aware that the number of book about cakes and baking was in danger of seriously outnumbering those about more savoury dishes. I decided to put my next Amazon token to use in righting the balance. A book that caught my attention was Good Food: More Veggie dishes, as I have the original "Veggie Dishes" book and I cook from it frequently. It was available for £4.74 at the time - a small discount from the standard selling price of £4.99. I pre-ordered it and my copy arrived shortly after publication in October. I dived straight in and began cooking my way through it and having ticked of 20 recipes, it's time for a review..
BBC Good Food Magazine have produced a large number of cookbooks in their "101" recipes series, which is said to be the U.K's best sellling set of recipe books. Recently, the series has been revamped and the "101" has been dropped from the titles, hence the fact this book is just known as "Good Food: More Veggie dishes". It is still listed as part of the "101" series on Amazon though, just to add to the confusion. Whatever they are currently calling themselves, the book still contain 101 recipes.
THE BOOK ITSELF
This book is a nice compact size - around 15 by 13cm. This matches other books in the series so you can make a neat stack of them without taking up much room on your bookshelves. They may be small in size but they are well presented. Every recipe is accompanied with a very attractive colourful photo which makes browsing the book for inspiration both easy and a pleasure. More often than not, the pictures give an helpful idea on how to present your meals, if you want to make them a bit more special. The finished foods don't necessarily look "fussy" but colourful and appetising. Other than the recipes themselves, you get a brief guide to weight conversions which would be of most use to those American readers wanting to use cup measures. [The recipes themselves detail both metric and imperial weights for ingredients.]
THE RECIPES INCLUDED
The most important thing to know is that every single recipe in this book has previously appeared in BBC Good Food Magazine. In additon, some of the included recipes are available to view free in the magazine's website. If you are a regular buyer of the magazine, this would be a problem, but I only buy it occasionally.
There are 101 vegetarian dishes in the book - but not all are main courses. One quibble I had with the original Good Food Veggie dishes book was that a large proprtion of the meals are on the light side. The same can't be said of this book as there is a much better balance between the substantial mains and the less filling snacks and suppers. This suits me as I feel most in need of inspiration for dinners than anything else. Some are under a chapter heading of "Family Meals", others are "Meals for entertaining". I am not sure about how sensibly the recipes are divided. For example, I looked through the family meals section when I had 4 people to cater for, and I was a bit surprised to find several dishes catering just for 2. They are the sort that could be easily doubled up thankfully. I also presumed that the recipes chosen for the entertaining section might be a bit more elaborate fare than vegetable stew and cottage pie - surely better choices for the family meals part! I would just ignore the chapter headings and search the whole book if you want to cook for a particular occasion.
Apart from that, I have been happy with the actual selection of recipes. There is a good mix of summery salads and heartier warming meals for the chilly winter weather. Some vegetarian books rely heavily on pasta dishes, which nice as they are, can be a bit tiring after a while. This book doesn't include that many, which is a refreshing change. I will quickly describe my favourite meals made from the book so far. The strong favourite has been some bean burgers made with Wensleydale cheese. They really are delicious and filling as well as being very quick. The original recipe sugested frying the burgers but I have experimented with baking them instead. This works well and is probably healthier. [If nutrition is especiallly of interest to you you will be pleased to know that there is a nutritional breakdown included for each recipe.]. My other favourites are a spicy potato and chickpea "fry up" which is listed as a supper but I think works really nicely as an interesting side dish with an Indian meal, and some herby chickpea balls which are very quick to both prepare and cook.
As well as main meals, you will find recipes for soups, salads, snacks and easy puddings. If this had been my only veggie cookbook, I think I would have missed the fact there is not more in the way of sides recipes. It can be harder to know what to serve as an extra to a dish already made of vegetables. However, the book isn't a large one and can't contain everything. There are also just a few vegan dishes, which are not highlighted as such. I wouldn't recommend this book to a vegan when there are many specifically vegan cookbooks around, unless you are happy to adapt everything.
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE THE FIRST GOOD FOOD 101 VEGGIES DISHES
If you have the book to which is this a sequel of sorts, as I do, you may wonder whether it is worth having both. I would say yes, as the recipes are sufficiently different. The chapters are not the same in the two, and this also reflects the content. For example, the "More Veggie Dishes", doesn't have a specific dairy free or pasta/rice section like the first book. While both contain quite a lot of salads, and relatively few puddings, the second book is the best of the two for main meals in opinion. They authors have saved quite a few classics, such gnocchi, cottage pie and macaroni cheese for this volume, so don't presume the dishes will be more exotic. The classics do sometimes have a so called spin on them that makes them more interesting - such as the addition of butternut squash to the macaroni cheese which does make the dish more colourful.
EASY TO USE?
I have to say that every recipe I have tried has worked and seems accurate when it comes to cooking times etc, which is sadly not a given with cookbooks. They are supposed to be triple tested by the Good Food team, which is probably part of the books success. The recipe methods are concise but properly explained, and the numbered steps help to break things up into achievable chunks. You will be told how long the meal will take to prepare, although I think that they are often quicker to do than the timing suggests. The total preparation and cooking times stated for main meals are around 45mins - 1 hour on average, but the cooking part takes up most of that. And you can of course be doing something else while your oven does the hard work.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE BOOK?
I would as there are a good range of reliable recipes inside, using a variety of different ingredients and flavour combinations. The full cover price of £4.99 is cheap for a cookbook, but Amazon sell it for £3.74 or a new copy at the time of writing. That is a bargain! I have noticed that the Good Food books are also often on a multi buy offer somewhere - WH Smith and Waterstones being two places that have come up trumps for me in the past. All in all, it is recommended for all but those who may have kept a lot of back issues of Good Food magazine, due to the recipe duplication mentioned above.
[This review is also posted under my user name on Ciao.]