* Prices may differ from that shown
*This review refers to the paperback version*
This book is the one of the first of a selection of slow cooker books that I now have. I bought mine on Amazon where at the time of writing it is available for £3.44 on Amazon and £2.49 on Kindle. I have also seen this book available on occasion in Tesco.
I have a vast array of cookbooks and as a rule, I am quite a big fan of Hamlyn cookbooks as they tend to be very reasonably priced and have really good ideas contained within them. That is why I did not hesitate to pick this one up.
The book itself is quite small as regards to height, probably ¾ the size of a standard paperback novel but deeper in width. The cover is made of firm cardboard and has a textured finish so will withstand a bit more bashing about in the kitchen than standard paperbacks. The pages inside are glossy so withstand a few splashes and spills. The spine of the book is pretty good; if you don't have a recipe book holder you can lay it down relatively flat to cook from, but with it being a relatively cheap book I wouldn't overdo that at the risk of pulling out the pages.
The book starts with a very good introduction which I would highly recommend for anybody new to slow cookers. It details that principles behind slow cookers, settings, timings, how to prepare different foodstuffs beforehand and there is also a really good bit about adapting your own recipes which is incredibly useful in the long term if you really take to slow cookers.
Then we come to the recipes
To give you a good idea of what the book contains I will give you a sample list of recipes from each section. Each recipe is displayed over 2 opposing pages with one being taken up with the recipe, the other with a picture of the finished article. The method for each recipe is emphasised by the main description for each step being in bold e.g. Preheat, add, transfer, heat etc. Along with the ingredients list , there is also rather helpfully a breakdown of what cooking temperature it needs to be set to (which will only ever bee low or high) and it also points out the preparation time as well as the cooking time. Each recipe also has relatively detailed instructions on how to make variation of this idea to make a completely different meal; I assume this is the way that they managed to get 200 recipes in such a small book!
Breakfast & light bites: banana and cinnamon porridge, easy sausage and beans, Cajun red bean soup, chicken and noodle broth, gingered sweet potato soup, beery cheese fondue, chunky chickpea and chorizo soup
Meat, poultry and game: lamb shanks with juniper, Thai green chicken curry, cidered pork with sage dumplings, baked ham in cola ( a favourite), the obligatory beef stew with dumplings, sun dried tomato and chicken pilaf, maple glazed ribs, olive and lemon meatballs, beery barley beef (another favourite)
Fish and seafood: salmon in hot miso broth, smoked mackerel kedgeree, chermoula poached salmon, macaroni with smoked haddock
Vegetables: herby stuffed peppers, green bean risotto with pesto, sweet potato and egg curry, pumpkin and parmesan gnocchi, tarka dahl. Ratatouille with ricotta dumplings,
Desserts, drinks & preserves: sticky rum bananas with vanilla, crème caramels, lemon custard creams, pineapple upside down puddings, sticky toffee apple pudding, iced Jamaican ginger cake, winter fruit compote (another favourite), tangy citrus curd, pickled plums, hot Mexican coffee, lemon cordial, hot Jamaican punch, mulled cranberry and red wine.
I have to say that this is one of my most used cookbooks, not just slow cooker cookbooks, but overall. It really does push the limits of what you think your slow cooker can do as I have friends who have given up on theirs because they only thought you could do stew and mulled wine in theirs. I only have a bog-standard Tesco own-make one which cost about £15 about 4 years ago and I have managed to cook everything that I have wanted to try from this easily. So of course I have done the stews but the ideas within have inspired me to experiment more with curries (which work particularly wonderfully because of the time taken to marinate the flavours) as well as porridges and my first steps into preserves. Once you have seen how successfully these things can be it encourages to test out your own ideas which is an added boon.
One thing I would say about the puddings, cakes that you can make using the slow cooker is that due to the design of the slow cooker in general it means that these aren't always the prettiest of dishes when they come out but they still taste great, typically very moist.
As you can see from the list above it touches on a lot of different cuisines which is great and also the variety means that although yes, it does have some slightly more unusual ideas the standard stews and curries etc are also included. It may not be for you if you are fully traditional about the type of food you like but for everyone else it gives a really good idea of just what you can really do with your slow cooker.
The recipes themselves are well described and I have not had any disasters yet (touch wood!) It has also encouraged me that it is entirely possible to use your slow cooker all year round because for a time I was tempted only to use it at winter. For the most part, the ingredients are cost-effective and easy to get. What is also great is that because of the way the slow cooker cooks you can get away with cheaper cuts of meat without compromising on taste and texture so you can experiment a bit with some of the meats that they list here.
For such a cheap book, a lot of thought has actively gone into it. This is typified by small details like the fact it makes it so clear what the preparation and cooking time is without you having to trawl through the recipe. It seems to recognise that a lot of people are interested in using slow cookers because they are quite time poor and need to be able to know whether leaving a particular recipe in the slow cooker for a given amount of time will fit in with their schedule i.e. whether they are leaving it on whilst they are at work or because they want to knock something wholesome up for lunch whilst they are doing other things in the morning.
In conclusion, I would really recommend this for anybody who either a beginner to using a slow cooker or for anyone who is looking to do more with theirs as it will give you the ideas and confidence to really experiment with interesting meal ideas that actually work!
You will also see that I have recently reviewed its successor 200 more slow cooker recipes so take a look at that as well as that is also very good.
I recently purchased my first slow cooker (see earlier review) and quickly realised that other than the obvious chilli, bolognese and stew dishes, I was short on inspiration as to what to actually cook with it. Still unsure how I would get on with the cooker, I didn't want to splash out on an expensive cookbook filled with recipes that I wouldn't use (I have a very fussy family!). So I began an online search for a budget book to help inspire me and came across this little gem by Hamlyn on Amazon for around £3 - bargain!.
Upon delivery, I was surprised at the size of the book - not quite pocket size but not far off it, definitely a lightweight cookbook. It contained over 200 recipes - surely there would have to be something in there for the fussy family!! I set to work at flicking through the pages to identify my first project.
The book was really easy to use, broken down into handy sections - starting with breakfast dishes such as porridges or sausage and beans. I'm not sure slow cooking my breakfast is really a need that I had, but nice to see that the book covered all angles. There was then meat dishes, fish dishes and vegetable dishes and even a section on desserts - so there really is a large variety of options for such a little book!
What I liked most of all was that each recipe was given a double page spread, with one page detailing the ingredients, cooking method and cooking time and the other page being dedicated to a glossy picture of the end result - really helpful and inspiring! The recipes are really basic and easy to folllow and the ingredients helpfully listed so you can work out easily what you need to add to your shopping list.
I've so far tried a few of the dishes and have identified more that I will be trying over the coming weeks. What is good is that alot of the recipes use similar ingredients, so you won't find yourself buying loads of spices only for them to make their way to the back of your cupboard never to see the light of day again. The recipes I have tried, most notably sweet and sour chicken and spanish potatoes have been simple to make and really tasty too (clean plates all round - quite rare in our household!), so I already feel that I have had good value out of a book that cost just £3.
If you are not much of a cook, the recipes are so simple and very easy to follow, so this would really be a good book to start with - likewise if you are just looking for easy, simple meals with little preparation time. There are foods for all tastes from curries to pasta dishes, so I really do think that there is something for everyone and, at £3, you can't really go far wrong. Recommended.
One of the first things that I wanted when moving in to my own place was a slow cooker as I have used one a few times in the past and been really pleased with the simplicity and having a hot dinner ready when I arrived home from work.
I spotted this Hamlyn cookbook, along with a number of others, on offer for just £1.99 in my local Robert Dyas and I couldn't resist snapping up a few bargains from the house account in order to cook lots of delicious meals.
I had previously looked at this cookbook on Amazon for around £4 and was actually going to place an order that night so it was fantastic timing that I found them available at such a reasonable price although I would say that £4 is very reasonable for a colour cookbook anyway.
This book is a half size (A5?) book which contains 200 recipes which are ideal for the slow cooker. There are lots of colour pictures to accompany the recipes which is fantastic for me as I like to see what a dish is meant to be looking like in order to work towards creating a similar presentation as I'm not very good with that kind of thing and any tips or help is always appreciated.
Some of the recipes are a little unusual such as the gammon in cola and some of them require a fair amount of preparation but there should be something in this book for everyone's taste, no matter what kind of food you like. I personally have made 5 of the recipes so far and been very impressed with all of the results and there is another 5 or so that I am very keen on trying as soon as possible as well as some other ones that are a little more experimental and I'll definitely be trying out.
I have found the instructions to be very easy to use and while some recipes require a lot of ingredients I have found that I have soon built up a good store cupboard of ingredients and I hardly ever need to go out for additional things now when trying any of the recipes from my new cookbooks which is always good as I'm lazy! The instructions are very informative and I have found the cooking times to be really accurate also.
Overall it's fair to say that I have been very impressed with the quality of this cookbook as well as the variety of recipes available. There are some recipes which are not very time consuming to cook usually but it's nice for me to do 5 or 10 minutes prep work in the mornings and be able to arrive home to a delicious cooked dinner a set amount of hours later.
I do love arriving home and having something wonderful all ready in my slow cooker and I can just make up some rice, pasta, potatoes etc and serve my meal. Some of the meals that I have made have really been just one pot meals where I can add the potatoes when I get home, have a shower and then serve it up.
If you are looking for a cookbook to go with your slow cooker then I would recommend this book. Some of the recipes are a little expensive but some of them use wonderfully cheap cuts of meat that will turn tender, succulent and lovely once cooked for hours in your slow cooker. If you can find it under £5 then this is truly a bargain and will help you become a more experimental cook instead of sticking to the same 5 dishes we all seem to have!
As I had wrote in a previous review, I eventually got round to using my slow cooker, which was given to us as a wedding present years ago. Now, that I have successfully made a few dishes, using the recipe book given with the slow cooker, I was looking for some new ideas, particularly casseroles and sunday lunch suggestions.
I noticed on Amazon, that they had this Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook with 2300 slow cooker recipes, for £3.60, which I thought was good value, but even more so, I was pleased to find that they were many positive reviews on amazon about it, so I ordered it.
A few days ago, the book arrived, and I was so disappointed. I expected to open it up and be inundated with recipes that I would be able to use.
Now, there are several clear positives about the book that must be mentioned. As many of the amazon reviewers pointed out, the colour pictures are terrific, the instructions are extremely well worded and laid out - with preheating and precooking instructions, the cooking temperature and time to cook, as well as step by step instructions for actually cooking it in the slow cooker and then serving it. There is no doubt that it is a very attraction book.
The negatives however outweigh these positives for me. The vast majority of the recipes are a bit over the top and a bit wacky. Now, I know that everyone has different tastes and some will like recipes that I don't, but there is a lot of recipes with foods that I simply would never cook with. The other thing is that, to me, some of the suggestions are not really what I would call necessary for a slower cooker, for example, sausage and beans. Now, it is not difficult or time consuming to cook sausages and beans, and I just felt that this was a bit of a daft recipe. I was looking for recipes that got you using the slow cooker to make the cooking less hassle, not for already simply dishes.
Now, I did turn down the pages of about 5 recipes, but that was it, in a book with 200 recipes. Some of the wackier suggestions include (forgive me if these sound appealing to you!) spinach and courgette tian, sweet potato and egg curry, peppered venison with scones, baked ham in cola. I'm not a fussy eater, but some of these recipes are just not something that I would cook.
I do plan on trying a couple of the recipes that I did turn the pages down on which were more what I was looking for such as creamy tarragon chicken and potato,apple and bacon hotpot.
I will probably end up having to purchase another slow cooker book, since I really don't feel that for the everyday cook who likes everyday kind of food, this has enough ideas in it. Disappointing.