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The River Cottage Family Cookbook - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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5 Reviews

Genre: Food & Drink / Dieting / Author: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Fizz Carr / Hardcover / 415 Pages / Book is published 2005-10-10 by Hodder & Stoughton

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    5 Reviews
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    • More +
      27.10.2012 22:47
      Very helpful



      The Family Cookbook is a fantastic cookery book that takes you through all the basics

      The River Cottage Family Cookbook is one of a number of cookery books that I bought Sue (my wife) a couple of years ago for Christmas as she loves cookery books.

      It was written by High Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr in 2005 and published by Hodder & Stoughton. The paperback version which we own is exactly the same in terms of content and published in 2009. The hardback is available from Amazon for £21.90 and oddly from eBay from £6 plus delivery charges despite the paperback version selling for £30!

      This is a book designed for everyone from the age of 10 to use with of course adult supervision. It is 416 pages long with 8 pages of index and 6 pages of introduction. There are 10 chapters (and glossary):
      Fish & Shellfish
      Store Cupboard
      Sugar & Honey

      This is a good book for learning and as Hugh says himself "For experienced cooks in a rush, a recipe that is merely a set of instructions may be useful. But children (and adults) who are still learning about food want and deserve something more - the tools and rules for a lifetime's cooking. And so in our book the 'whys' of cooking are at least as important as the 'hows'."

      The book includes tips on using the best ingredients, safety and encouraging you to just try - even if it does go horribly wrong!

      Flour - what is it, what does it do and choosing the right one for what you are making. It then goes on to teach you how to make various bread (including sourdough and soda) before detailing how to make pasta, pizza and pastry. Once the basics have been established there are recipes for making flatbreads, fresh white bread, raisin bread, soda bread, sultana scones, pizza, spaghetti carbonara and lemon tart.

      Milk - different kinds of milk, cooking with milk and similarly with cream, butter, cheese and yoghurt. It even tells you how to make butter - and eat it! Recipes include home-made cream cheese, cheesecake, cheese straws, shortbread, frozen strawberry (and other) milkshake(s).

      Eggs - what they are and how to use them. Some of the recipes are Spanish omelette (tortilla), meringues, Victoria sponge cake, real custard.

      Fruit... well you get the idea, it's similar to previous chapters. Recipes include fruit fools, lemon curd, baked apples, gooseberry crumble, jellies and lemonade.

      Vegetables - vegetable stock, pick-your-own minestrone, best ever mash, garlic, rosemary and lemon potatoes, roast onion family, guacamole.

      Fish & Shellfish - fish fingers, salmon fishcakes, creamy fish pie.

      Meat - spaghetti Bolognese, spicy lamb pie, lamb kebabs, liver and bacon.

      Store Cupboard - Nicola's zesty flapjacks, fragrant rice, hummus.

      Sugar & Honey - peppermint creams, honey ginger cake, marshmallows, custard ice cream.

      Chocolate - real hot chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce for ice-cream

      This is a really good book for anyone that is interested in cooking and needs a little encouragement and is a very good read which I can thoroughly recommend.


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    • More +
      02.01.2012 18:22
      Very helpful



      Overall good recipes with lovely inspiring pictures

      I bought this book after a friend recommended it. I have bought and then subsequently 'de-cluttered' a large number of recipe books over the last few years but this is one of the few 'keepers'.

      It is not just a recipe book, it is packed full of information too. It is divided into sections 'Flour, Milk, Eggs, Fruit, Vegetables, Fish & Shellfish, Meat, Store Cupboard, Sugar & Honey, Chocolate'. It is almost a 'lifestyle' book too as it explains the importance of eating good food using the best ingredients.
      For example, the first section is about 'Flour'. It has a small descriptive paragraph as follows "See those crumpled bags of flour in your cupboard? They may not look much but without them you'd have no bread to spread with butter and jam, no spaghetti to twirl around your fork, no crunchy pizza with its tangy cheesy tomatoey topping. Not to mention no cakes, no biscuits, no croissants, no pies, no pancakes, no scones... no wonder this is the first chapter'. Then there is photographs alongside of someone rolling out dough, a handwritten note about sourdough, a photo of the easy flatbread with reference to the recipe page number, a photograph of a combine harvester harvesting crops in a field, a loaf on bread rising on the kitchen side and a few others that link it with the heading.

      After the introduction page there is information explaining what flour is, what flour does and the different types of flour that you can buy and then it goes on to explain about bread, the importance of yeast, kneading bread, and then it goes on to sourdough. After this beginning introduction, the recipes then start.

      There are recipes for the whole family to enjoy and they are clear and easy to follow. The book has lovely photographs throughout.

      I have cooked a few things from this book and I often flick through it for ideas and inspiration.
      Overall I would recommend this book, I bought it when it was on offer for about £10 from one of the major supermarkets a couple of years ago. It is still available to buy on Amazon for £17.50.


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      • More +
        07.12.2011 13:11
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        A great cookbook for kids wanting to learn about food.

        The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr.

        This cookbook is special because it is especially designed for the whole family to use. The book aims to teach people of all ages exciting and delicious recipes which are easy to follow and use only basic ingredients. The book was first published in this country in 2005 by Hodder and Stoughton.

        Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a well known chef who has had numerous Channel 4 TV series such as 'Beyond River Cottage'. He is best known for his organic approach to food, he cooks with fresh produce and is a campaigner for "real food". He is a strong believer in the consumption of local produce and does not like to depend on stores for food.

        Fizz Carr is a writer who is passionate about animal welfare standards and teaching children about where food comes from and how it is made. Together Fizz and Hugh worked together to create this book suitable for children and adults. Not only does the book include recipes but it also includes useful information about food origins.

        Hugh moved into the original River Cottage in Dorset in 1998. His aim was to create somewhere he could grow his own produce and depend less on the outside world. He filmed several successful television programmes at this cottage and produced many cookbooks, including this one. Nowadays the River Cottage HQ is at Park Farm near Axminster. The current River Cottage runs courses to teach other people how to grow their own produce and live by the same self-sufficient rules.

        I would say that a lot of the text in the book is aimed at children 12+. There are just as many explanations about food as there are recipes. If you are looking for a cookbook with just recipes then this isn't it, it is almost like a food-tech text book.

        The book is separated into different chapters for different food groups/items:
        *Fish & Shellfish
        *Store Cupboard
        *Sugar & Honey

        At the start of each chapter there is a brief explanation about what the item is, how important it is in cooking, where it comes from, what you can do with it and then finally some recipes with the ingredients. As an adult reading the book a lot of the information is pretty much a given and that is why I think it is more suitable for children to teenagers. If I was a teenager reading this book then I would certainly learn a lot about food and ingredients.

        The recipes themselves are based on homemade food and some of them are a little basic for an adult e.g. poached egg on toast, crumble, custard and beef burgers. These recipes would be great for kids who want to start getting into cooking. The instructions are very clear and concise and on a few of the recipes it even tells you how to eat it.

        The photography in the book is by Simon Wheeler. There are some beautiful pictures in the book of animals, fresh ingredients, families making the recipes and the finished products.

        I am not a huge fan of the way the book is laid out as to get to a recipe you first have to go through pages of information about where flour comes from and different types of flour. I think it would be good if all the recipes were placed together so that they are easier to get to. The information itself is laid out clearly and it is very colourful.

        I paid £20 for this book and I bought it from Waterstones.

        Overall there are some really useful recipes in this book. There is a lot if information about produce and techniques for creating food which is also useful. I would recommend this book for children 12+, teenagers or anyone older who wants to learn more about food. I bought the book for the homemade recipes but it wasn't until I got it home and started to read it that I recognised what its real intentions are. I think that the book is intended to teach about food more than give out recipes.

        I give this cookbook 4 out of 5 stars!

        The website where you can find out more information about The River Cottage is www.rivercottage.net

        Thank you for reading : )

        Review also on Ciao under luceey.


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        • More +
          30.05.2009 10:42
          Very helpful



          Very readable, crammed with information, real pictures and interesting recipes.

          My seven year old son and I spotted this book on a friend's bookshelf and took it down for a closer look. We were instantly hooked and it appeared on his Christmas list for obliging grandparents to buy. We've been dipping into it ever since, not only for recipes but also for general information and ideas.

          The River Cottage Family Cookbook is written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a broadcaster and campaigner well-known for his commitment to real food, and Fizz Carr, a journalist with five daughters and a passion for animal welfare and for the education of children about food and where it comes from. It shows.

          The book is packed full of real photos of real situations with real children from real families; there is nothing posed or staged about the action pictures and we are allowed to see the imperfect results as well as the occasional beautifully lit foodie shot. And when I say packed, I really do mean packed! Barely a page goes by without a picture of some sort, and the whole book is interlarded with full page and double page colour photographs. This makes reading it an incredibly visual experience and really helps to catch a child's attention. In addition, a few of the recipes have step by step picture instructions, making them particularly easy to follow. The pictures are not the glossy perfect finish of a cookery magazine, however, but rather action shots - a child's hand punching down a bowl of dough, little fingers pinching pasta into bow shapes, a pancake mid-toss. It's almost like seeing freeze-frames from a cookery programme.

          What is a Family Cookbook?
          The book begins with an introduction setting out the premise of a family cookbook as "a book that everyone in the family can pick up and use." The authors confidently expect that a child from the age of about 10-12 will be able to use it with a little adult help, while older children should be able to tackle most of the recipes unaided. There's lots in there for adults and younger children too, and a wide enough range of recipes to make it suitable for anyone of any age who wants to learn to cook and is interested in the why as well as the how.

          Why we like it:
          Our favourite feature of this cookbook is not that the recipes are clearly laid out and easy to follow, although that is helpful. It is not that everything is brightly and engagingly presented, although that is what attracted our interest in the first place. It is not even that the recipes included cover everything from boiled eggs to profiteroles, though that has widened our culinary scope. It is rather that there is so much more to this than just a cookery book. The recipes are really the icing on the cake, because what is at the heart of this book is a love of food and all the issues surrounding food. The amount of extra information included is incredible and offers so much more of an experience than just cooking! We spend at least as long planning and reading about what we might make as we do preparing it, and all of that time we are reading, chatting and learning together.

          To accommodate all this information, the book is divided into chapters according to the major food group involved, then the recipes are chosen to fit into that section. For example, the first chapter is on flour, beginning with a photo montage of images from flour production (combine harvester) through use (bread being made, dough kneaded, pastry rolled, pizza dough stretched) to final product (freshly cooked raisin bread loaf, scone with jam and a bit taken out of it) and a little introductory paragraph extolling the uses and importance of flour. Turn the page and there are three further pages describing different types of flour, how they are made and used and why different flours are good for different recipes (gluten is the key!). There's even a bit of history in the link between cereal crops and the development of settlements and civilisations - and we're still only a few pages in! Logically enough, we move from flour to bread, starting with a general background and moving on to discussion of why you should bother to make your own bread (taste, satisfaction and being able to eat it warm from the oven), the importance of yeast, types of flour, how to knead, what shape to make your loaf, ideas for adapting basic recipes... and then a project to try capturing wild sourdough yeasts. A quick idea for yeast-free (and faster) soda bread and then we're on to the next section: pasta - shapes, types, a project to make your own pasta dough and then it's on to pizza, then pastry, then flatbreads. Each section is set out clearly, with bold coloured titles and smaller subheadings, often in the form of questions. Recipes are referenced so that you can have a go at making the things you are reading about and the sections are easy to skip if you just want to get straight to the cooking but are interesting enough to read by themselves even when you have no intention of cooking at that time.

          When you do get to the recipes they are very clearly laid out and easy to follow. The name of the dish appears as a coloured heading, followed by a brief description of introduction, then a section listing everything you will need (not just ingredients, but also equipment) in bold colour. The instructions are broken down into small, simple steps with enough descriptive details to make it easy to see when you are doing it right - an important consideration for youngsters cooking alone or inexperienced cooks following a new recipe. Each step is numbered, making it easier to keep track of where you are up to, and at the end of each recipe is a suggestion of how to eat what you have made and a list of possible variations you might like to try. The extra information and the variations mean that the book equips you to cook vastly more dishes than it lists; once you have mastered the basic idea you can tinker with it and create new dishes and variations - all part of developing confidence in the kitchen and a love of good food.

          The recipes cover a good range of basic dishes, including meals as well as individual dishes. There is an entire chapter devoted to that key food group, chocolate, and each recipe has suggestions for variations too. It gives an excellent grounding in both the theory and the practical preparation of a wide variety of foods.

          Any downsides?
          It's not a cheap book. RRP is around £25 (for the hardback edition; I've not come across a paperback version), although you may well be able to pick it up for less - it's currently listed for £15.27 on www.amazon.co.uk, for example. The wealth of information and advice it provides, however, is well worth this price, and given how readable the book is it's likely to find its way out of the kitchen and onto the family bookshelves every so often, before being taken back into the kitchen for the next cooking session. A cookery course would almost certainly cost more and probably tell you less.

          (n.b. This is an updated version of a review posted by me on Ciao.co.uk)


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          • More +
            09.04.2007 20:23
            Very helpful



            Back to basics cookbook

            I am not the worlds best cook, I would be the first to admit it (and my daughter and husband would be the second and third!), so my culinary creations tend to be along the lines of simple and nutritious but sadly limited. As I don’t like feeding my daughter processed food I have always cooked from scratch for her and this has helped me to develop a little further. I rarely enter the scary world of cookbooks as I have found that even if I follow the instructions completely, things never turn out as they do in the glossy picture and we are usually disappointed. So I was a bit surprised when my dad bought me a cookbook for Christmas (and a bit peeved as well, I was hoping for something else) and I put it to one side and forgot about it. Fast forward to March and its Mr Historywitch’s birthday and I always try to buy a nice cake for him. This year I decided to brave the cookery books again and actually (sharp inhalation of breath) cook for him. All the books came out and I rediscovered this one!

            It’s a hardback book with a white cover. The multicoloured title is fresh and appealing and the pictures of Hugh and Fizz Carr cooking with their children, encouraged me to pick it up. On the back are more glossy pictures of ingredients, brightly coloured and mouth watering.

            Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is well known for his TV series about healthy and sustainable living- and his commitment to ‘real food’. He campaigns for local, seasonal food, unprocessed, simple and of high quality. Fizz Carr (the co-author) holds similar views about welfare and natural food and wants to encourage young people back into the kitchen and to understand more about where their food comes from.

            The book is divided into ten sections, each with an introductory section with pictures of some of the recipes and then 5-10 pages of interesting and accessible information about each one and how to use it. There are also projects to do specifically with children in each section e.g. make your own butter and grow your own tomatoes:

            Sourdough bread, soda bread, pasta from scratch (including instructions for those without a pasta machine), pastry, pizza dough, flatbreads, white bread, raisin bread, scones, spaghetti carbonara and lemon tart.

            Bechamel sauce, how to make your own butter, macaroni cheese, home made cream cheese, brussel sprout gratin, cheesecake, cheese straws, shortbread, home made yoghurt, home made milkshakes.

            Custard, pancakes, boiled, poached and scrambled eggs, French and Spanish omelettes, meringues, Victoria sponge cake, drop scones.

            Jellies, smoothies, strawberry and rhubarb fools, lemon curd, baked apples, gooseberry crumble, fruit tart, apple tart, banana bread, lemonade,

            Vegetable stock, soups, mashed potatoes, sag aloo, potato wedges, roast onions, onion and cabbage with black pepper, pasta with herbs, peas with roasted peppers and chorizo, vegetable fritters, crudités and mayonnaise, guacamole, salads.

            Fish and Shellfish:
            Baked fish, BBQ mackerel, fried whitebait, fish fingers, fishcakes, fish pie, kedgeree, roast squid, mussels a la mariniere.

            How to cook steak and make sausages, roasting a chicken, beef burgers, bolognaise, spicy lamb pie, lamb kebabs, liver and bacon, chicken curry, pheasant casserole

            Store cupboard:
            Flapjacks, rice pudding, fragrant rice, home made bacon, lentil and bacon soup, spicy bean stew with sausages, roast chestnuts, hummus, pear and almond pudding cake.

            Sugar and Honey:
            Make your own icecream and lollies, peppermint creams, honey ginger cake, fruit salad, marshmallows, strawberry parfait, custard ice cream, Turkish delight, honey fudge.

            Real hot chocolate, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, chocolate truffles, making a box of chocolates, chocolate éclairs, chocolate chip cookies, brownies,

            I have given all of the recipes for two reasons, one because I like to see the range of recipes before I buy a cookbook and two, so you can see that there aren’t that many considering the size of the book (around 400 pages). This isn’t supposed to be just a recipe book, it is designed to teach you about food, to be a basic and useful primer (they don’t assume you know anything!) and to be used to cook with children. It succeeds in all of these amazingly well. I feel so much more confident about cooking and the ingredients I am choosing to use. My palate and range have expanded and I have surprised myself with the food that I have created. The recipes are beautifully easy to understand, every step is explained and the recipes are accompanied by gorgeous tempting photos. The best thing in my opinion is that the resulting food ACTUALLY looks like the picture and just as tempting!
            This is also good for someone on a tight budget as there are no unusual, expensive or unfamiliar ingredients to be hunted out or puzzled over in the supermarket. Most of the ingredients I had in my fridge already and any extra ingredients are in very small quantities. It also provides the opportunity to make your own Christmas presents, the last chapter especially has some delicious looking home made chocolates, that just look so easy and delectable!
            Many of the recipes were already familiar to me and I approached them with a ‘know-it-all’ air, but they were all given a subtle twist and the results were much more enjoyable than anything I had produced before, even using exactly the same ingredients. The extra sections at the beginning of each chapter are useful for teaching you WHY the things are happening and where your food comes from. I have taken Hugh’s advice and am only buying meat once or twice a week, but only the very best quality and we are certainly noticing the difference in our health.
            Pictures of children cooking illustrate this book, often doing surprising things. A nine year old is competently gutting a fish and a five year old is slicing up marrow (with a safe knife). It would certainly have encouraged me into the kitchen as a child to see other children confident and competent cooking and preparing food. Hugh suggests that most of the recipes can be cooked by a 10-12 year old with minimal supervision but that children of all ages will be able to join in with some help. I know many of the recipes that I tried were eminently suitable for my toddler daughter to participate in (and sample at every stage!). We have spent many pleasant hours in the kitchen with this book, most memorable creating Mr Historywitch’s birthday ‘cake’ which was a tower of chocolate éclairs. I have never tasted anything so delicious in my life, the chocolate sauce tasted divine and I had this immense sense of satisfaction having done everything myself (right down to whipping the cream!). Everything else I have made has turned out to be utterly devourable and I have had no complaints! Yesterday I made Hugh’s raisin bread and it was moist, soft and sweet and best of all I knew exactly what was in it so I was 100% confident in feeding it to my daughter.
            In addition to the recipes there is a glossary, an introduction to a few basic techniques and a very comprehensive index.
            Hugh has written a number of other River Cottage cookbooks (which can be found on Amazon), all of which I have added to my wish list!
            ISBN: 0340826363

            Cost-RRP was £20, but Waterstones have it for £15 at the moment and WH Smiths for £8 (online- you can have it delivered to the store and pick it up without a delivery charge.
            Amazon have it for £13.20. Best marketplace at £5.49


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          • Product Details

            Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's well-loved RIVER COTTAGE books have become a phenomenon, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people all over Britain to cook and enjoy good food. His new book THE RIVER COTTAGE FAMILY COOK BOOK, co-written with Fizz Carr, brings the River Cottage philosophy to the whole family. It will give pleasure to everyone: toddlers and grandparents, families discovering the fun of cooking together, and everyone who enjoys simple home-cooked food. From how to make butter from a jar of cream to how to make your own sausages, THE RIVER COTTAGE FAMILY COOKBOOK will inspire everyone with the magic and fun of cooking. Brilliantly written, and with beautiful colour illustrations throughout, THE RIVER COTTAGE FAMILY COOKBOOK will become an essential ingredient in every household's kitchen.

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