Newest Review: ... on the menu. The book is very pretty and no doubt will appeal to the coffee book set on this basis alone, but when you are desperately p... more
A tad wordy and could perhaps do with more recipes, but a great first book
Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights - Sophie Dahl
Member Name: paulie1975
Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights - Sophie Dahl
Advantages: Some wonderful recipes, filled with warmth and simple instructions
Disadvantages: Some of the pre-ambles are a bit too long
Miss Dahl's voluptuous delights is a cookbook created by the former model and granddaughter of Roald Dahl, Sophie Dahl. It is quite indulgent and quite clearly a rival to the Nigella Lawson school of cookery. Dahl doesn't mess about and clearly prefers to eat well than to eat healthily judging by the rich selection of recipes in this book. In many ways her book is a real improvement on many available as it simplifies the cooking process and makes food easily accessible and fun, on the other hand, some of the recipes wouldn't appeal to those of us without childhood memories of indulgent, expensive cuisine, if we were brought up on fish fingers and potato waffles.
The book is an accompaniment to the BBC2 television series. I bought a copy of this book based on watching one episode of the programme, I found her approach unstuffy, nicely weighing on the side of enthusiastic amateur and her recipes were easy enough to cook whilst still looking great. I managed to get a copy on Ebay for £5.99 although this required packing charges and was second hand, a new copy on Amazon will set you back around £11.29.
The book itself arrived and I have to admit to being just a little bit disappointed. There are far too many descriptions of why the recipes are important to the author and just not enough recipes. For me a cookbook needs to be all about the recipes, this too often conjures up scrumptious childhood images of food, but they left me cold and wondering what was next on the menu. The book is very pretty and no doubt will appeal to the coffee book set on this basis alone, but when you are desperately pulling through the pages for recipes and get to them and they are for things like Acorn squash, I knew I had perhaps bought after seeing one decent episode, however I have to admit I had also read positive reviews before purchasing.
The recipes are easy to make and this is a definite plus to the book, the descriptions are simple and easy to follow, there just aren't enough of them.
The book is nicely style in the sense that each recipe is broken down over two pages, ingredients are listed on the left side of the first page, a well spaced recipe is listed to its right and over the page is a luxurious photograph, so it is well designed in that sense and easy to follow.
The book is 276 pages in length and is broken down into the following sections:
This covers breakfasts, lunches and suppers and as with the rest of the book, looks at foods to match the seasons, there are comfort food recipes such as Onion Soup and Peasant Soup as well as Baked eggs, roast chicken and sweet potato cakes.
I have to admit I have tried the sweet potato cakes, which were very nice, but I would argue aren't a breakfast food in any sense, the roast chicken recipe didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but the Paris Mash turned out to be a beautifully crafted puy lentil dish which is listed as a supper dish, but we have for lunch. Some of the other recipes, are a tad too flowery for my more industrial style of cooking, but we've made reasonable use of these so far.
The mixture of recipes ranges from Tofu with Shittake mushrooms for breakfast monkfish with saffron sauce, the breakfast recipes have proven reasonably redundant, but we have tried the chicken soup with chickpeas and the warm winter vegetable salad, which were both successful, there is a nice recipe for chicken curry which we plan to try and the cauliflower cheese was lovely, so we have made use of this section, although unlike some books, these are small recipes which are indulgent but not full meals.
This involves grilled papaya or rhubarb compote for breakfast, all a far cry from scrambled eggs and toast, and mostly quite irrelevant to me, we have tried the chicken stew which was fine, but recipes such as the baked acorn squash, lettuce soup and tofu with cherry tomato quinoa sound pretty unappealing to me and haven't been tried.
I have made lovely beetroot and pea soups already from this, the ratatouille was a success and the fish cakes were excellent, less successful was the quinoa salad and the scrambled eggs with watercress. There are only about 16 recipes for summer which is a shame and they are all slightly flowery.
There is a desserts section which is simpler than I expected with the baked apple and clover carnation milk jelly being my best recipes.
Thinking about this as I write it, I have made a number of these recipes successfully, the book is easy to follow, well illustrated and has some simple and well designed and tasty recipes, my only real issue with the book is that each season has a long precursory foreword (Springs is about 10 pages long) which being honest, I have no interest in, if I wanted to read reminiscences about food I would buy a Nigel Slater book. The mix of recipes is also a bit of a downer for me, there are too many overmade breakfasts while I am more interested in main courses.
I think the book is really good, well designed and Dahl is a new voice in the kitchen who is fresh, makes things simple and enjoys what she does, my complaints are purely personal in my preference of cookbook design, some will love her memories of food which are used as credentials to show why she wants to make this book, I just wanted more recipes and less chat.
The book much like the author, is beautiful, elegant and really warm, I will buy more of her books as I think for a first effort this is excellent and her style will develop further the more she writes.
This is a very British cookbook which has moments of pure class, and a few recipes which just don't fit with what a very ordinary person (ie me) could ever think about making. Overall I'll give it a strong 3 out of 5, it should really be a 4 as to all intents and purposes it is a lovely book and I will use it more often than many on my shelves, it is a tad wordy at times and could have more recipes and less chat, but it is an exciting and welcome addition to my cooking library.
Summary: A tad wordy and could perhaps do with more recipes, but a great first book
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