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Over the last few years my desire to cook food from fresh rather than simply popping a ready meal in the oven has increased considerably. In accompaniment to this my collection of cook books has increased considerably as well. As I cook I prefer to have something as guidance, even if I change a few of the ingredients around to suit the tastes of those dining with me. As a result of this cook book increase I have become familiar with a number of the current crop of celebrity chefs and my favourites at the moment are Si King and Dave Myers, perhaps better known as The Hairy Bikers.
Who Are The Hairy Bikers
As already mentioned the Hairy Bikers are Si King and Dave Myers and perhaps the strangest thing about their current fame as chefs they have never been professionally trained. In fact Si is a locations manager and has worked on Harry Potter movies and Byker Grove, while Dave is infact a trained Make Up artist. It seemed a strange connection that the two then should have their new found and incredibly successful sideline as celebrity chefs.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the duo is the fact that the majority of their shows are a combination of cooking and travel shows as they travel around the country uncovering the taste of Britain on their Bikes. I think the combination of their background and the style of cooking they do really appeals to a new audience. Their recipes tend to be for more everyday food, regardless of how good or bad it is for you.
12 Days Of Christmas
This is the latest release from the duo and will accompany a television series which was screened during December last year. It includes over 120 easy to follow recipes for the Christmas period, including a guide for those of us who have never done it to prepare a full Christmas dinner. The recipes within the book are well set out with a build up to Christmas, the main meal itself, alternatives for New Years day and even a number of recipes to use up all of that leftover Turkey.
It has a very varied feel to the recipes with starters, mains sides and puddings all covered as well as a number of drinks and even gifts you can make for people. The majority of the ingredients required for every one of the recipes can be purchased from your local supermarket, although there are a couple such as pigs trotters which will require a trip to a butchers. It's a nice touch that as well as the more traditional dishes for the Christmas period the Hairy Bikers have added in some of their favourite recipes to give the book a unique edge for the Christmas market.
The majority of the book is made up of recipes as you would expect but along the way Dave and Si share little tips such as drink accompaniments, cheese boards and as already mentioned a very handy and helpful time table to get the timings of your Christmas dinner just right. This combination of recipes with interesting hints and tips spread throughout break the book up nicely. The index at the back helps you to find recipes with certain ingredients and again this really helps depending on the type of food you are looking for.
Is It Easy To Follow
I've tried quite a few recipes from the book since we picked it up about a month ago and I have to admit it is one of the easiest books I've bought so far. The ingredients list is exact and the quantities stated really do seem to be enough for each person as suggested in the title. We have even used some of the dishes for mains that are suggested as starters and vice versa and by adjusting the ingredients as required it turns out to be more than enough on each occasion.
Unlike a number of other books I've tried over the last few years even the timings on each dish seem to be spot on. Previously I've found that the books are a little off and things have turned out to be under done or over done but each of the dishes I've tried from this book have turned out exactly right on each occasion. Each of the recipes are set out in a very easy to follow fashion and unusually some of the dishes have even turned out looking like the colourful image that accompanies each recipe.
Does It Taste Good
Obviously the answer to this question will depend on how well you have followed the recipe but I have to say that out of the 6 we've tried from the book so far they have all tasted great. From a personal point of view my favourite so far has been the Really Good Kedgeree (Page 157), it was a really good combination of haddock flavour mixed with nicely done Basmati rice. As with all of these types of books I think if you like the sound of the ingredients and follow the recipe as they have it then it is bound to taste very good.
Where To Get It
We picked our copy of the 12 Days of Christmas up from our local Tesco Direct store in Bracknell for £9.99 and it is currently available from all good book retailers in time for Christmas. If you can't find it on the high street it is also available on amazon for £10.
Having bought and tried a number of cook books over the last few years this is probably the first one that I've found has turned out exactly as I imagine it should using the quantities of ingredients and cooking times suggested. It is very well written and easy to follow, which I think is what makes the Hairy Bikers my favourite TV Chefs of the moment. The mixture of recipes isn't simply confined to Christmas and a number of them will suit year round usage. The majority of the food within the book isn't particularly pretentious and would be ideal for a family to enjoy for any occasion.
The combination of decent recipes and hints and tips along the way is a nice touch. The illustrations within the book are well done and really play into that theory of eating with your eyes as well as with your taste buds. I've found this to be one of the easier to follow books that results in tasty food and therefore would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone looking for both seasonal and year round ideas.
Amazon Marketplace: £9.97