* Prices may differ from that shown
Time and time again you purchase cookbooks with recipes in them that you would never dream of cooking. Mainly because they take a day and a half to make or because you have to travel to the ends of the earth to find the ingredients the recipes call for. This cookbook is the complete opposite, it lives up to its title ''Fast, Fresh and Easy Food''. I particularly like the way it is split up into convenient sections like ''soups and salads'', so that you can easily access what course you want without having to go through the whole book to find what you want. The recipes themselves are very straightforward and there is no messing about, they tell you exactly what you need to do. The food that she cooks is very appealing to all people, its a crowd pleaser. I also like the way the book is presented it is very sleek and modern, and not too ''crowded''. If you love cooking I would go for this book.
At Christmas, my parents always ask me if there's anything they can get me for 'something to wrap'. I always ask them for books as there's always new ones out that I'm interested in - a variety with my favourites being autobiographies and cookery books, especially if the recipes are quite easy to do and don't need hours of endless slogging in the kitchen. This book, Fast, Fresh and Easy Food by Lorraine Pascale, was one I was very keen on looking at and was added to my Christmas list. The book costs around £9 on Amazon although the recommended retail price inside the book is £20. It is available as a hardback and as an e-book (prices given are for the hardback).
I first came across Lorraine on her BBC2 show 'fast, fresh and easy food', also the title of this book. The programme showed Lorraine make various recipes, all of which are in this book. Most of the recipes on the show looked quite easy to complete with minimal effort. The thing that drew me to it was the fact that all of the ingredients looked quite normal - I've lost count of the amount of times that my cupboard has ended up with a weird ingredient that no-one's ever heard of and it just festers away because I decide I'm not keen on the recipe. These recipes looked tasty, easy to do and didn't require me to spend countless hours in a specialist herb shop trying to find that last vital ingredient.
Recipes that she showed on the show varied from making pizza, to making curry, making a lamb roast dinner to making her masterpiece Maltesers Cake, although she refers to it as the 'let them eat cake cake' I assume because of advertising reasons. All recipes shown on the programme are included in the book, along with many others - there are 100 recipes in total, so plenty to read through and try out.
The book has a small introduction from Lorraine about her main aim of writing the book- she says that the goal was to make a book that would be referred to regularly, several times a week. It also has a handy tips page about the recipes before moving on to the recipes themselves.
It is then separated into sections for each type of food - canapés and cocktails, starters, snacks and soups, salads, chicken and duck mains, beef, lamb and pork mains, fish and shellfish mains, vegetarian mains, cakes and puds, bread and pastry and tasty treats. There is quite a selection of food to try! There's around 10 to 12 recipes per section and they cover a wide range. For example in the chicken and duck mains section, there is, amongst others, a recipe for piri-piri chicken, a recipe for chicken tikka masala and a chicken casserole. I feel that she's tried to cover a wide range of world cuisine, and I think she's done a good job of doing so. I have to be honest and say that I've not tried out recipes from some of the sections, but I have tried a lot from the beef, lamb and pork mains and the cakes and puds (for obvious reasons with that one!). The recipes throughout the book take a similar format.
The first recipe I was drawn to was the slow roast leg of lamb with chardonnay, rosemary and sage. This was a recipe I'd seen her complete on the TV programme and it looked so delicious on the show. Using the book to recreate the meal, I tried it for myself. I have to say that I found the recipe very easy to follow from the book. The layout of the book is great - alongside all of the recipes, a full size picture is given of the end result of the meal, so you know what to aim for. A list of ingredients is given at the side of every dish. The preparation time, the time spent in the oven, the serving number and equipment needed for the recipe are all given above the ingredients. What I really like about the style is the friendly and informal format - for example, for the chardonnay part of this recipe, she says "400ml of white wine", then followed by "any wine will do". She also mentions honey, the measurement being "a couple of squidges". The format really relates to my way of cooking - I am not a person that measures things out precisely and feel better to just try a bit and see what happens. From watching the show, she seems to base a lot of her recipes on experimenting in her cooking. This easy reading format is also used throughout each of the recipe methods. The methods are very easy to follow and are very clear. I have to say that with this dish it miraculously turned out looking very similar to the full size picture given in the book. This has fast become one of mine and my husband's favourite meals now.
Almost every other recipe I've tried has lived up to my expectations - maybe not all looking exactly like the big picture given in the book, but some did and all tasted spectacular! There was one disaster in the kitchen with the burgers recipe that she gives in the book, although if I'm honest, I think I did substitute one of the ingredients for another as the supermarket had ran out of it on my weekly shop. They fell apart in the pan which was a real shame. But, I will try again with this one, as the picture in the book just makes them look so delicious.
I find the last section is very helpful too. The last section is 'tasty treats' and has recipes for sides such as mango chutney and toffee sauce. There aren't many recipes in this section but they are mostly things that don't take long to do. I find them useful as don't really have the knowledge on how to make accompaniments for main dishes from scratch.
As for the ingredients, I have found that as expected, the majority are pretty straightforward and normal, although there have been a couple of recipes where ingredients have been used that weren't on sale in our local supermarket. On the whole though, I've found that around 95% of the recipes had ingredients that were available there and I'd say most of these were ingredients that you would find a lot of kitchens anyway, tomato ketchup for example is used in a few recipes I've looked at, something always in our cupboard.
I would really recommend this book to anyone like me who enjoys cooking but doesn't always have loads of time spare to spend in the kitchen. It certainly helps me to make nice meals with very little effort.
Thanks for reading :o)