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This is one of the earlier books in Rachel Allen's career, I picked mine up at a discount bookshop for around £5 and I think it is probably readily available at this price now due to her latest releases. According to the back of the book, the RRP is £17.99, which seems a bit steep to be honest when the book is quite thin in comparison to most other cookbooks on my shelf (including Rachel's other books).
The book I have has a different cover to the picture on Dooyoo - the front cover on mine is Rachel in a blue top sitting at a table with her chin resting on her hand. The title and contents are the same though, so I'm not sure whether she was just experimenting with photos, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that it's not an attempt to get people to mistakenly purchase two copies of her book due to thinking they don't already own it.....
The book is split into ten sections as follows:
1 Easy Family Food
2 Sweet Celebrations
3 Picnics and Days Out
4 Food for Children
5 Extended Family
6 Dining Alfresco
7 Home Cinema
8 Big Celebrations
9 Edible Gifts
10 Just Like Mum Used to Make
There is also an introduction from Rachel at the beginning, and "Useful Extras" and an index at the back. The useful extras describes things such as a roux, stock and pastry, and are referred to throughout the book.
The book is well presented with lots of pictures of the food and also of Rachel and her family. She gets a lot of criticism from people for overdoing the number of these 'arty' photos but I think it's unjustified because part of her appeal is that she is a family woman cooking for a family, and so it's quite nice that she has pictures of her homelife within the book. If these were the only photos in the book I would understand why people were annoyed, but she does have lots of photos of the food as well so she's simply mixing things up a bit and trying to inject a bit of her personality into the book.
The instructions in this book are really easy to follow, and Rachel breaks everything down into step-by-step instructions. She starts off with a bit of a blurb about what she's cooking, for example who created the recipe (sometimes her husband or son will give her ideas to try new recipes), and she might give useful information such as variations on the recipe or how long the final result lasts for.
The first section on easy family food is probably the most disappointing in the book, with the very first recipe being scrambled eggs with tomato, chilli and coriander. Although this is a variation on basic scrambled eggs, it's still scrambled eggs at the end of the day and I feel a bit patronised being told by a cook how to add a few herbs or extras into a basic meal to jazz it up a bit. It does improve after this though, and there are some more adventurous recipes later on.
Sweet Celebrations is all about baking, which in my opinion is what Rachel Allen does best. Picnics and Days Out gives recipes for salads tarts and other outdoor style food. Food for Children is a mixture of healthy stuff like smoothies and scrambled eggs (again!), and other stuff to get them eating healthier versions of their favourite foods such as parmesan chicken goujons. I've actually tried them and they were very tasty.
The Extended Family section is all about entertaining groups of people so is more about serving 6-10 people. This includes things like lamb, beef stew and after-dinner drinks.
Dining Alfresco (similar to picnics and days out) is more summery food such as omlettes, tarts and fruity cocktails.
Home Cinema chapter gives recipes for things that are good for snacking on during your Saturday night film watching. Examples are lamb samosas and popcorn.
Big Celebrations gives recipes for serving very large groups up to 16 people. Edible Gifts is a lovely section on things such as chutneys, jams and truffles which make fantastic homemade gifts. I've tried a few of these at Christmas and they are always well received when presented in a jar with homemade label such as Rachel's.
The final chapter "Just Like Mum Used to Make" is traditional comfort food such as homemade pork sausages with colcannon and apple sauce (gorgeous) and chunky soups.
Overall, this book is very versatile as it has lots of different themes for different occasions, rather than just providing the usual offering of starters, mains and desserts. It seems quite thin on content but actually contains a lot of food, and I would recommend adding this to your collection if you can pick it up at a reasonable price.
Rachel's Favourite Food at Home was Rachel Allen's third book. The updated paperback version (the same as the dooyoo picture) was released in 2008 and contains 240 pages. The book tied in with the television series of the same name shown on BBC 1. In keeping with Rachel's usual books, Rachel's Favourite Food at Home is pretty and girly and mostly makes use of pastel shades of pale pink, green and blue. The book contains lots and lots of pictures of Rachel and her family and friends eating and doing stuff like walking on the beach. Whilst these pictures are a nice enough to look at there are simply just too many of them. After all, this is ultimately a cookery book, so I feel there should be more pictures of the finished dishes as opposed to superfluous pictures like the ones of Rachel standing by the fridge. This is a shame as the balance of pictures could have been better thought out and in my mind more pictures of the dishes themselves would make the book far more appealing to more people.
The book starts with an introduction from Rachel where she covers what to expect from the book, which is quick easy meals for the family as well as cooking for special occasions. As with most of Rachel's recipes they use readily available ingredients and with a handful of exceptions none of the recipes are particularly pricey to make. In fact, some of the recipes only call for a few simple ingredients which is great if you are watching the pennies.
There are eleven main sections, there is also an additional section which is titled 'Useful Extras' this contains a handful of basic recipes for kitchen staples that can be used as the base for a dish or as an accompaniment. Recipes include things like Roux, Stock, Mayonnaise, Pesto and Shortcrust Pastry. This section could be handy for keen beginners in the kitchen and of course if you've got the time to make them these kinds of things taste so much better homemade than shop bought.
The other sections, along with some of their recipes to give an idea of what's in the books are as follows:
Easy Family Food - Broccoli Soup with Parmesan Toasts, Spicy Salmon Cakes, Upside Down Apple and Cinnamon Cake.
Sweet Celebrations - Porter Cake, Chocolate and Almond Cake with Brandy Cream, Sponge Cake with Rhubarb Cream.
Picnics and Days Out - Rocket, Tomato and Sugar Snap Pea Salad, Asparagus and Spring Onion Tart, Ham and Egg Pie.
Food for Children - Parmesan Chicken Goujons, Party Sausages with a Mustard Honey Dip, Chewy Seedy Oat and Apricot Bars.
Extended Family - Beef Stew with Brandy, White Wine and Cream, Chicken Pie with Bacon and Peas, Pasta with Tomato and Ginger Salsa and Crème Fraiche.
Dining Alfresco - Green Leaf and Pea Soup, Warm Pasta Salad with Herbs, Garlic and Rocket Leaves, Summer Tiramisu.
Home Cinema - Lamb Samosas, Popcorn Paradise, Baked Potatoes.
Big Celebrations - Green Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing, Chicken Pilaff, Sicilian Pasta.
Edible Gifts - Spicy Tomato and Apple Chutney, Summer Fruit Jam, Dark Chocolate and Stem Ginger Biscuits.
Just Like Mum used to Make - Macaroni Cheese, Homemade Pork Sausages with Colcannon and Apple Sauce, Baked Eggs and Soldiers.
A Few More Faves - Prawns with Lemon Mayonnaise, Beef and Rocket Wraps, Chicken Casserole with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Beans.
The recipes are nicely laid out using clear text and short concise paragraphs, with easy to follow instructions. Guidance is provided for the quantity each recipe makes or how many people it serves. In general, a lot of the recipes either serve 6-8 or 10-12 people so most of the recipes need scaling down if you are cooking for less people than these amounts. The recipes do state if they are suitable for vegetarians, which quite a few are, so this is good for any veggies. Some of the recipes are accompanied by pictures of the finished dish but as mentioned before, not enough for my liking. I always think a lack of finished dish pictures sometimes makes it difficult to visualise how the dish should look. Also some people may find it a let down if they like to flick through cookery books and look at the pictures for inspiration on what to make.
I'm steadily working my way through the book and most recipes have turned out how I expected. So far, I have much preferred the sweet recipes but then I do have a sweet tooth. The Lemon Biscuits are simple but delicious biscuits which are a doddle to make and so quick too as they only take 6-10 minutes to bake in the oven. Only four ingredients are needed, flour, lemon zest, butter and sugar so they are cheap too as the mix makes 25 biscuits. I make them most weekends to enjoy with a cup of tea. There is the Chocolate and Hazelnut Toffee Tart - this rich tart is my favourite recipe from the book. It has a layer of biscuit pastry, on top of this sits a layer of hazelnut toffee and then this is finished off with a layer of intense chocolate mousse. Ok, so this is ridiculously full of fat and calories but my motto is if you are going to go to the trouble of making this tart then you may as well indulge. Next, is the Toffee, Apple and Almond crumble, I didn't think the humble apple crumple could be any better until I made this recipe. The toffee sauce bubbles up the sides of the cooked crumble and it always makes me want to eat it straight from the dish. My family and friends put a request in for this dessert as its one of their favourites. Funnily, one of the recipes I like the most in the book is actually a recipe by Bill Granger for a Banana Butterscotch Pudding (I always find it a bit odd when books feature other peoples recipes) but I'm glad I've got this recipe as it is simply divine and its so easy to make.
Whilst I do like this book and refer to its recipes fairly frequently because they are reliable to do. For me, there is just something a bit lack lustre about it. I feel it's missing some oomph, which probably sounds a bit strange but I was hoping for something more. I think the savoury recipes are fine for everyday simple meals and I guess that is what the book promised. I still feel a bit let down by it though as I really like Rachel's two most recent books 'Home Cooking' and 'Bake' which I would both recommend. They are excellent books that I use time and time again. Both of these books seem like much more effort, time and thought went into putting them together than Rachel's Favourite Food at Home which looks to me as though it has been much more rushed.
If you do fancy trying Rachel's Favourite Food at Home it is published by Collins and has an RRP of £14.99. Amazon is currently selling it at £9.60 with free super saver delivery. Its ISBN is: ISBN-10: 000727579X and ISBN-13: 978-0007275793.
Thanks for reading.
I bought my Rachel Allen Cookbook after sitting and reading my sisters cover to cover whilst I was babysitting for her! I expected to flick through it in two minutes flat noticing all the glassy pictures not many recipies and all for dishes that I could aready cook but I was wrong!
This cook book has dishes that you might not have cooked before as well as twists on old favoutites. Her ingrediants lista are comprehensive and not to exotic or comprehensive. May of her recipies are good for special occassions or when you have loads of time on your hands - I say this because some of them take ages- well longer than I would want to spend on making tea on a Wednesay afternoon!
One of the nice things about this book is she has a section for cooking with children that extends to ideas beyound pink fary buns and pizzas with smily faces - these are recipies that children can help you cook (rather than just appeal to children to eat).
The best recipie from this book is her 30 day muffins - great for making small batches at a time for breakfast - yum!
This is the first of Rachel Allen's cook books that I have bought and it lead me on to buy others. The title says it all for me. It's food for at home, with the kids or family. Nothing incredibly fancy or fussy but not plain food either.
The book is divided into 10 sections, from Easy Family Food and Sweet Celebrations to Home Cinema and Edible Gifts. It's very bright and colourful with lots of family photos and photos of the food.
As a mother of young children I found it useful. It encouraged me to branch out a little in what I fed them and gave me lots of ideas of fun and often wholesome (sometimes not) things to make for and with them. The whole family especially loved her Fruit Breakfast Muffins, Wholemeal Shortbread Biscuits and Quesadillas. My firm favourite meal is the Risotto Verde which is ovenbaked and easy to make and also got my children gobbling spinach (in disguise) Her No Pastry Pear and Almond Tart is delicious and simple.
This is not a complicated cookbook for someone looking to wow at a dinner party but is perfect for someone looking to experiment a little with family cooking.
I'm a fan of Rachel Allen and i bought this book after having loved the food for living book. I paid £10 for this book in Tesco which i think is fairly reasonable. The style of the book is very much similiar to her other work with family photo's and vibrantly coloured.
The book is split in the same way as her food for living. Sections include Easy family food, picnics and days out, home cinema, edible gifts. I like the gifts section as in this cfredit crunch it gives some good ideas to give to people and save some money.
At the end is a "Useful extras" section which i think is good as it shows you how to do little things like make mayonnaise, pastry, redcurrent jelly. Good for those being thrifty and trying to make more themselves.
The pictures are great and give a good visual on how the food should look. I was not as impressed with this book as with food for living. Mainly because this book does not have as many meals to cook but more snack things, bakes, drinks etc. So for my purposes it didn't really fulfil. However it really depends what you want it for. If you want a great little book to rustle up easy things for your family for many infomal occassions then it's great and recipes are again reletively easy to do. But if you are looking at cooking more elaborate meals then i would not reccomend this book.