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The perfect Christmas Cookbook for under £5!
Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 Christmas Recipes
Member Name: pink_glitter
Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 Christmas Recipes
Advantages: lots of variation, easy to follow, well set out
*This review was originally posted on Ciao in December 2011 and appears as it was posted then. Although Christmas has now passed, I hope this review comes in handy for someone next year*
I bought Hamlyn's '200 Christmas Recipes' last year. I wanted a Christmas cookbook but most of them were fairly expensive. I didn't want to spend too much, since my mother actually cooks Christmas dinner. I'd love to do it myself, but she will never let me, instead she'd rather do it herself then spend the whole time moaning about having to do it! I stumbled across this book, which was cheap, compact and offers a lot more than just the traditional Christmas dinner recipes, so snapped it up as I thought it seemed just what I was looking for.
The book opens with an eight page introductory chapter and I would advise you to give it a read, as it's really quite useful. This section includes a Madeira cake recipe which is required as a base for some of the cakes in the book, as well as hints and tips on using ready roll icing. There is also lots of information on cooking turkey (both fresh and from frozen), and this includes a table of cooking times and advice on carving.
Each recipe in the book has two pages dedicated to it, one with a colour photograph, the other with a step by step recipe, ingredients list and advice on how many people it will serve and approximate cooking and preparation time. I like that times are given as it's handy to know, especially as most of us are busy around the festive season. I would have liked to have seen nutritional information for each recipe and a note to say whether or not each dish could be frozen, if I am being picky.
One thing I really like about the book, is on many of the recipes, there will be an alternative listed at the bottom of the page. For example, the potato dauphinoise has an alternate recipe for a potato and leek bake, should you prefer that.
The book opens with various recipes for things you would associate with a traditional Christmas dinner. Of course, the traditional roast turkey is listed, as well as many other meat options, such as roast goose, roast beef and roast duckling. Stuffing recipes are also included here as well as a few different sauces and gravies. There are lots of vegetable options in this section, such as glazed baby carrots, braised red cabbage and camembert leeks. There is a recipe for roast sweet potatoes which I tried, but I messed up - they are supposed to be boiled for 5 minutes, but I was stressing out doing other things and accidentally left them in for 20! I decided to throw them in the roasting dish anyway and hope for the best, but when I took them out of the oven I had ended up with some lovely sweet potato mush! Oops. I'd recommend trying the potatoes dauphinoise I mentioned earlier though, as although I've only made it once, it was really lovely. Oh and I can't forget the roasted parsnips with thyme butter, they're a great accompaniment to any winter dish.
This book is not simply dedicated to Christmas dinner though. There are a variety of celebration cakes in the book, which vary in their complexity. I was also really surprised, yet delighted to find a recipe for a gingerbread house here. Other classics such as a chocolate log, mince pies and brandy butter are of course included too. There are a couple of Christmas pudding recipes including a last minute Christmas pud, which I'm sure people like me who are a bit disorganised, will be grateful of!
If you like cupcakes, there are the mini Christmas cakes which feature on the front cover or the mini iced gingerbread cakes. I made these last year as I adore gingerbread and I was really pleased with how they tasted. I also made the reindeer cupcakes, these are chocolate cupcakes with cherry noses. They are perfect for children, although I did have one problem when making them. You have to make the antlers by piping melted chocolate onto greaseproof paper. Annoyingly, most of them snapped when I peeled them from the paper backing, so many of my reindeers were antler-less!
Other things featured in the book are biscuits that can be used as tree decorations and 'gingerbread nightlights'. This is the old trick of making a biscuit, cutting a shape out and melting a boiled sweet into the middle so it looks like stained glass. The author advises making an open topped cube and adding a tea light to make an edible candle holder. I have never tried this as edible candle holders strike me as madness! I can't help wondering if the boiled sweet might end up melting next to the heat of the candle and the last thing I'd want to spend Christmas doing is scraping melted boiled sweets off the coffee table!
As well as the more traditional recipes, there are a few things in this book which I wouldn't have expected. The pasta packed baked red peppers and feta and roasted vegetable tart do not seem particularly festive and in fact I first tried the recipe for the peppers back in the middle of summer.
There are several recipes in this book for edible gifts which is going to be useful for me this year. Money is a bit tight and I haven't bought as much as usual for my parents, so I plan on making a few treats to take over on Christmas day. Although recipes are given for marmalades and chutneys, I imagine I will probably go for one of the cookie recipes or perhaps even the homemade fudge.
The final section is dedicated to left over turkey recipes. I'm sure many of you will be familiar with eating nothing but turkey sandwiches for days after Christmas, so this gives some creative ideas on how to use up leftovers without being boring.
This book has an RRP of £4.99 but I believe I paid around £3.99. It is currently £3 on Amazon or £2.99 for a Kindle edition, which I think is a fantastic price.
If you're looking for a Christmas cookbook that covers all bases then this is the one for you. I can't think of anything bad to say about it really. There are recipes here for everything from your standard Christmas dinner, through to edible tree decorations, cakes, edible gifts and leftover turkey recipes. Everything I've made has turned out well and there are a variety of recipes, some that will suit beginners other that are more suited to the more experienced cook.
A bonus is that it's a cheap book to buy and as it's relatively small in size won't take up too much room. This one definitely gets a recommendation from me.
Summary: Highly recommended
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