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For quite a few years, I had a subscription to the BBC Goodfood magazine, which was a annual birthday present, although I now receive a craft magazine instead. Recently, my sister however, who also gets goodfood, bought this 'easy cook' also from the BBC, costing her £2.80. When she had finished with it she handed it to me, and so this was my first look at this magazine.
On the front of this edition of the easycook magazine it says at the top 'real food for busy people' and they offer in this edition to prodice 'everyday meal solved' and 'easy autumn meals'. They also promote on the front cover of the magazine that they include easy everyday food, as well as easy weekend food.
I was interested to see what this was like, as although I liked goodfood, there were always many recipes were things that I had never heard of, or simply wouldn't even be able to find in my small town's supermarket. From the front of this magazine, it certainly seemed to be promoting easy food, with glossy pictures, making it quite tempting to pick up. This edition was also a student special with 'great ideas to cook on campus' and a mini mag from Ready Steady Cook with Alex MacKay. It also states in a large red circle on the front that within the magazine there are 'over 100 speedy, easy to follow recipes'.
Inside the magazine on the first page is a contents page, with more glossy food pictures. This edition includes sections on:
What's for Supper
Feeding the Kids
From you Storecupboard
Cooking for Friends
From this list alone, you would therefore be expecting to come away with a multitude of new easy recipes to try out and would suit the whole family.
Beyond this first page, is an easy food news page with some interesting information about some new produce on offer in supermarkets, some campaigns that they are supporting and other new ideas for the time of year.
There is a then a glossy section offering 10 fast meals for busy families including the likes of blue cheese pasta,mexican beef fajitas, sticky pork with gingered noddles and humous crusted lamb. The steps for easy recipe appear to be very easy to fllow, with information as well given for the number of people a meal would serve, the length of time it take to make, the cost per portion and then some nutritional information, along with information about whether it is freezable or not - all very useful. The problem for me, was that I was familiar with a good chunk of these recipes already, as they had already appeared in the GoodFood magazines, which I stopped getting in the summer time. I am aware that this is produced by the BBD as well, but I think that it is a bit unfair to those buying the magazine, to simply re hash the same recipes as another magazine they produce.
There was then a section on speedy kids suppers, which although I don;t have children, I wouldn't be too sure many of them would eat, unless you have remarkably non fussy children. My sister who had bought the magazine specifically to get ideas for kids meals, felt that her children wouldn;t eat any of them. Recipes included cheesy broccoli pasta and pork and mushroom kebabs.
The next section, was a section that I did find very useful and it was entitled 'take a can of mixed beans', which is an ingreeitn that I make use of a lot. I have already taken out some of the recipes suggested in this section to put to use in the next couple of weeks, and I have to acknowledge that these recipes were new to me, and not ones that I was familiar with from the Good Food Magazines.
Beyond this were more ideas for everyday meals includign 10 things to do with anchoives, low fat recipe ideas, and then ideas for 'just for two'.
There was also a mini mag section devoted to REady Steady Cook, with new recipes from some of the chefs of the show, and I felt this was a unique section that was very useful and the recipes look simple to make and are the kinds of things you would be making everyday such as meatballs, sweet and sour pork etc etc.
THere are two final sections, one on weekend cooking, which obviously included more luxurious meals that still maintained as easiness about them, and then finally a baking section, where there wer some great recipes for the likes of 'a batch of brownies' with a marble effect through it and 'welsh cakes'.
All in all, if you have never read a GoodFood magazine before, then this magazine would appear to have everything for everyday cooking, and is actually cheaper than the GoodFood magazine. However, if you are buying this as an extra magazine for more recipe ideas, then you will be disappointed as a large amount of the recipes are simply copied from the GoodFood magazine, which I dont think is quite right, since you are buying this magazine in its own rights, not to get copies of recipes that you may already have read about.
I have found Easy Cook magazine is a great buy full of recipes I would actually do! Although that said if you like cooking and like a challenge most of the recipes in the magazine wouldn't be for you and I would say it's not worth you buying. But for someone like me who likes to give it a go but isn't very confident with complex recipes this is the magazine for you.
Priced at £2.80 it is a monthly magazine, so plenty of time to try those recipes out. I found it is great value for money and I enjoy flicking through the magazine when I first buy it. The recipes are all mainly to make for families but there is nothing stopping you using fewer ingredients to feed 2 of you.
The front cover is easy to see as it is pretty bold. With 'easy cook' written across the top. There are a few pictures of recipes that feature in that particular edition.
Inside the magazine it contains a lot of simple to make recipes. Some of the recipes are from store cupboard ingredients. I have actually found I do have these ingredients in as well! There are recipes made for children to enjoy and quick for you to prepare and some for children to have a go at making with you. Each month there is 2 pages devoted to a particular ingredient and which follows with a selection of small recipes you could do feature that thing. In issue 34 it is broccoli and there are 10 of them to do. As well as main meals there is a good selection of puddings. I haven't tried any of these as I'm not a sweet kind of girl I prefer savoury food.
With every recipe there is small bit above the ingredients that I find very useful and is one of the reason I love this magazine. In bullet points it tell you how many it serves, how long it takes, how much it costs a portion (which is great for people on a budget like most of us these days), the amount of calories/fat/salt per portion and whether it is suitable for freezing. I often find myself doing more and then freezing it for a day when I'm too busy so this is always handy to know.
In the middle of the magazine is the 'ready steady cook' section which I must say is a little bit more interesting. With things in this season and information on particular things like issue 34 has a double spread on herbs, what they are like and how to use then and an interview with a top end chef. At the back of this section is a coffee break with kriss Kross, crossword and word search all on food of course!
So it's not just a magazine full of recipes you can sit down with it and enjoy it more as it has those few added extras. I have found it very useful and I would say go out and give it a go it's worth it.
This is a widely available very basic recipe magazine priced at a cost of £2.60. It is packed full of simple, basic recipes generally aimed around family cooking with a special section on easy meals for children.
There are several sections that tend to be permanent fixtures ie seasonality, make this in 20 minutes, 10 ideas for..... and so on. There is also a ready steady cook magazine inside the easy cook one (a mini-mag) which is all about ready steady cook, recipes from the series, information about new cooks joining the programme and so forth.
Where this differs from your standard glossy food magazine is that does concentrate on food alone so no adverts for cushions etc which you can find with others. However to add to this its not as attractive, it looks very much like a free magazine you would get from the checkout, you miss out on the glossy pages!
As for reviews etc well there aren't any I'm afraid just a simple cookery magazine it does truly do what it sets out too though its packed with recipe after recipe and at a truly bargainous price. I must like it I but iy every month!
Easy cook - does exactly what it says on the tin!! A brilliant magazine and perfect for these credit crunch times.
Each recipe is easy to follow and is broken down to show how much each dish is so its perfect for helping you to budget. Its full of really good, healthy and nutritious meals that would suit the whole family.
They also have articles relating to foods that are in season and what you can do with them - and buying foods in season is certainly cheaper so again, another way of helping the bank balance.
The recipes all show a picture of the finished dish so you can kind of see what you're aiming for - I know I need that guidance!!
There are also recipes where you can get the kids involved in the making of them to, something that I feel is so important. The more my lot help out the more they tend to eat.
So if you've never read a copy, go and grab yourself one and give some of the dishes a go!
I went into town this morning, and was in WHSmiths, trying to find a copy of the Good Food magazine, but they didn't have any in stock, to the left of the empty Good Food display rack were a pile of these BBC Easy Cook magazines, the pictures on the front encouraged me to buy it and see what it was like, as a change from the norm.
>>> First impressions
The title is bold, clear and easy to spot, if you were specifically looking for it. The subtitle REAL FOOD FOR BUSY PEOPLE, makes you feel that this could be a magazine worth looking at, with recipe ideas to help us all out. As we never seem to have the time to do anything nowadays!!
There are some really tasty looking pictures of food on the cover, highlighting that the magazine has over 80 simple recipes inside, with some great ideas for chicken, solutions to fast family meals, homemade pizza toppings, toad in the hole with a twist, easy Victoria sandwich, It also has a back to school special, with ideas for your child's packed lunch. (Those of you who have seen and heard a lot from him recently, will be pleased to know Jamie Oliver is nowhere in sight!)
Included in this magazine is a pull-out mini-mag headed up with the title Ready Steady Cook. (You can read more about this pull-out further in the review.)
As it's produced by the BBC, I felt like I was buying a good quality magazine, from a well known company.
>>> Inside cover Information
When you open the cover you find a brief welcome from the Editor: Sarah Giles, who gives you a quick taster to what you can find inside. There is also information you may wish to know, should you need to contact the Easy Cook team.
One thing I do like, is a box highlighting Easy Access; It shows you that the magazine is divided into everyday and weekend sections, which are colour coded, to help you find your way around the magazine. These section titles are then found on the next page with more detailed information about what recipes you can find and what pages they are on.
The colour of the section is then printed all the way down the outside edge of the relevant page, like a border. It does mean that you can find exactly what you are looking for without going through the whole magazine.
(My thought about each part is in brackets)
~~~ 'What's for supper' section (pink)
This section includes
~ 10 different meals for busy families that could be prepared in 20 minutes or less,
~ 10 minute black forest trifle with an easy twist, (looks really yummy and fattening!)
~ 3 low-fat meals, which contain lots of flavours, (and are good enough for all the family to have.)
~ vegetarian quick noodle teriyaki (you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it)
~~~ 'Feeding the kids' (blue)
~ Family classic, Toad-in-the-hole (haven't had this since I was little)
~ Reader recipe swap - (where readers can send in our favourite recipe to share with other readers and win a prize)
~ Back to school special, ideas for what to give your kids, vitamins they need, and how to get them cooking.
~ Packed Lunch ideas (tempted to use these for an adult's lunch as well)
~ Taste Test - lunchbox suggestions tried and tested!
~ Home from School - 4 great healthy suppers that are quick to prepare and will fill them up after a long day.
~~~ 'From your store cupboard' (purple)
~ Something from nothing - easy potato tapas
~ Handy standby - making the most from a ready made pizza base (far better than your standard cheese and tomato)
~ Have you tried cooking with beer? - great for recipes as well as drinking! (another way to have alcohol! Yippee!)
~ Essential cooking equipment - our favourite products for the home cook. (range of products to make your job in the kitchen easier)
~~~ 'Family Meals' (light green)
~ Make the most of Chicken (what else can you make? 6 more ideas including advice on how to carve a roast chicken)
~ Weekend breakfast - enjoy a lie-in, (if only! Not with a toddler about)
~ Saturday snack - tuna bagel melt
~ Weekend main meals - lazy make-ahead meals
~ Weekend desserts - great recipes for autumn fruit (I never say no to dessert)
~ Speedy risotto
~~~ 'Cooking for friends' (dark green)
~ Menu for 6 - take your friends on a safari supper (don't worry, giraffe and elephant not included!)
~ Wine basics - suggestions to go with your meal (wine I never say no!)
~ New fish recipes - easy ideas to try. (I love fish, but need some good simple meal ideas)
~~~ 'Easy baking' (mustard yellow)
~ Step by step - Cheddar scones
~ Tasty chicken pasty
~ Recipe for the biscuit tin - perfect for afternoon tea. (Or in my case anytime you need something to snack on!)
~ Weekend bake - Delicious carrot cake
~ Step by step - Classic Victoria sandwich.
>>> Ready Steady Cook Pull-out Mini-Mag
This is a 16 page pull-out, brought to us by the 'Ready steady cook' team. This issue is a pudding special. Inside you will find information on the show, competitions to enter, information about the celebrity chefs and most important, lots of pudding recipes!! As I scan through to see what I could try, I find a recipe for Chocolate chilli cake! My husband is really into chillies at the moment, as this cake only takes 20 minutes to cook, I think I may well have a go at it, this weekend.
There is also an interview with a new chef, called Alex Mackay. 19 year old from New Zealand. It's a good quick read with your morning coffee. If you still have 10 minutes to spare you could do the puzzles on pages 14/15, these include 2 sudoku puzzles, a crossword and a wordsearch. The crossword and wordsearch are both food related, and not very challenging, I've already completed most of the crossword already! If you want the solutions you'll have to wait until the next magazine.
>>> Overall Opinion
I am really impressed with this magazine; there are so many recipes I would like to try out on my family. It has given me so many new ideas, some recipes are similar to what I've done before, but changing a few ingredients can make it so different and healthier too!
Every recipe, is easy to read, in clear type, the recipe is supported with a photo of what the finished product should look like, we all know that photos in these types of magazines are always made to look more tempting, my meals never really look like the photo, but I do like to have some idea of what I should be serving up.
Each recipe and photo also contains important information; such as, how many people the recipe serves, time it will take to make, cost per portion, kcals, fat and sat. fat per portion, and also whether it is suitable for home freezing. This information can be very useful, for those who are on diets, cooking on a budget or preparing food for a dinner party.
Although they have grouped the recipes into everyday food and weekend food, there is no harm in using the recipes when you want, my husband used to work at the weekend and sometimes needed something quick/light before he went on a night shift.
I also liked the idea of including a conversion chart on page 5; all the recipes in the magazine are written in mls, cms and grams. As this magazine may be used by people of all ages, some people prefer to measure out food/ingredients in ounces, pounds and inches.
The main magazine has 84 glossy pages, which are good quality, (some magazines can feel very cheap.) Only 6 pages are used to advertise food or products, which I like, I don't want to spend my money on something that uses most of it's pages as advertising, there is so much of it nowadays, it's nice not having it forced down our throats for a change! 6 pages are used to promote subscriptions to this magazine, reader offers and other subscriptions from the BBC. A staggering 66 pages are devoted to the recipes, which I feel is a great proportion of the overall product and value for money.
On the front it says 'issue 15 autumn 2007.' I've looked all the way through but can't seem to find, how often this magazine is issued, I'm assuming it's every season. If you know different then I'd love to know. What I do know is; the next issue is on sale Wednesday 7th November and is a 'special Christmas and New Year Issue. I'm making a note now in my diary to buy it.
>>> Cost (including subscription details)
This magazine cost me £2.50. Which I feel is a good price for a magazine that you will want to keep and use again and again. You can subscribe to this publication; they are currently offering you the opportunity to buy 6 issues for the price of 4, saving over 30% off the cover price. It will also be delivered to your door free of charge. If you want to you can pay for 6 issues to be sent to a friend or relative as a gift subscription. These are great for people who seem to have everything else and you never know what to buy them. I've done a few in the past and would be happy to do it again.
>>> Contact Details
BBC Easy cook,
Woodlands Room AG170
80 Wood Lane
~Subscription enquiries and back issues
BBC Easy cook
Kent Science Park
I'm off to see what's in the cupboard for dinner tonight.
Note - this review was about a magazine I bought last october, but still use now. The review was originally published on Ciao, but has a few bits changed.
BBC Easy Cook magazine is aimed at people who want just that, something easy to cook, full of simple easy to follow recipes it's just perfect for someone like me who doesn't want to be spending hours in the kitchen preparing fancy meals but would rather spend the time playing with my kids or doing something fun, naturally I want to give my family good meals but I don't want to dedicate my life to the cause and this magazine provides the tool to achieving the balance of good meals versus free time.
BBC Easy Cook Magazine-
When they call this "EASY cook" they really aren't lying, the magazine is split into 6 colour coded sections each dedicated to a different aspect of cooking these colours match the layout of the contents pages where you simply need to look for the appropriately coloured column for articles and recipes in your chosen section. The magazine also has a conversion chart for those not used to metric measurements, showing you the conversion amounts from grams to ounces, ml's to fluid ounces, litres to pints and centimetres to inches (I love this feature, my mathematical skills were always terrible) but it doesn't just supply the details of how to calculate the conversions, rather it takes you through ounce by ounce and inch by inch, brilliant!
"What's for supper?"
The first of the cooking section and currently colour coded pink, this is a section jam packed with recipes. Starting with a section on 10 fast meals for families, each possible to cook in under 20 minutes, perfect for busy families juggling work and school, each recipe starts with a brief section of info on the meal and includes such information as how many people it serves, how long it takes to make, the average price per portion to make the meal, calorie content and whether the meal is suitable for freezing. Next comes the ingredients list followed by the quick and simple cooking instructions (usually only 2 or 3 steps of preparation) and then serving suggestions, to help those of us who aren't so great with the presentation of meals each recipe is also accompanied by a photograph of the meal, to give you an idea of what it should look like.
The recipes range in styles of food, there's a range for all people including vegetarians and people who want low fat options, there are microwaveable recipes and even puddings. In the Autumn 2007 issue meals range from sausage and bean stew to veggie teriyaki, black forest trifle to strawberry yoghurt brulee. The rosemary lamb kebab recipe is a delight and at only 20 minutes cooking time and £2.65 a portion it's a great meal for me and my other half to enjoy, the sausage and bean stew is perfect comfort food for these cold wet days, it's a simple 2 step recipe that takes 20 minutes and is great for warming up the kids after our walk back from school and likewise my husband after a long day at work, what's more it only works out at 91p a head, bargain!
"Feeding the kids"
This is the 2nd section we come to and perhaps one of the main reasons I like the magazine, it can be so hard cooking for children, even mine at 3 and 1 ½ can be fussy eaters and I like to be able to provide them with interesting yet healthy food. This section also provides recipes including those sent in by readers, which if published win a prize. This seasons issue has a back to school feature detailing what nutrients our children need, what the nutrients help in the body and where you can find them, this is particularly helpful as it's not long and drawn out, full of technical language and doctor speak. The article also features information on the importance of starting the day right, drinking the correct amount, advice on school and packed lunches as well as spelling out the importance of getting kids involved in the cooking, this is a great idea as it helps kids understand more about where food comes from and how it's made, they're less likely to fuss over a meal if they've helped make it and it's great preparation for their older years, I always used to bake with my mum and loved it, it was great fun and wonderful time just me and her.
The kids section has some great suggestions for alternative packed lunch ideas and gives the recipe to match, some of these take a little longer to make then those in the previous section but with a maximum of 30 minutes cooking time. They aren't impossible recipes or things kids will hate, there's no basic suggestions of carrot sticks and cucumber rather you are given suggestions on more exciting rice meals, salads and cereal bars as well as other snacks, all possible to be made at home and most of them less than £1 a portion, which lets face it is the kind of thing us busy parents are looking for.
Another great part of this section is their "tried and liked" article where they try out everyday food and healthier alternatives and then feature the best ones in the magazine, this can be anything from the best fruit to the best bagel. As well as all this there are a few "home from school and hungry" recipes which are all quick to make, filling and nutritional.
"From your store cupboard"
This section features recipes that can be made from what you have hanging around at the back of the cupboard and gives some good ideas of what to use those odd bits in, this edition even features recipes for cooking with beer. As well as the recipes there is a section dedicated to essential kitchen equipment, what they thought of them and where to get the items from.
This section features recipes for all the family and aimed at weekend dining. They include some "lazy meals" breakfast ideas and larger dishes that take an hour to prepare. As with all the recipes in the magazine they are clearly laid out with the ingredients, directions and photo and the additional information like nutrition and cost. The pudding suggestions in this section are particularly appealing, but then I do have a sweet tooth, the toffee apple and brioche pudding is an interesting twist on the classic bread and butter pudding recipe, it's quite cheap to make and very naughty at 770 calories! A slightly healthier alternative is the spiced roasted apples and blackberry recipe at 129 calories but by far my favourite and a great winter warmer is the recipe for blackberry cobbler, absolutely heavenly served with warm thick custard!
"Cooking for friends"
A section packed full of ideas for holding a dinner party or eating with your friends, as well as an exciting range of recipes they also feature a few wines perfect to accompany the featured dishes. I don't tend to use the dinner party section much as I'm usually too tired after a day with my tribe to cook for and entertain guests. It gives some useful hints and tips though for those who do enjoy a spot of entertaining.
I love this section, I'm more of a baker than a cook, while I strive to provide healthy, filling meals for my family what I really enjoy is baking, making cakes and treats and all things bad for you. The autumn issue features some mouth watering recipes from carrot cake to classic cheese scones, butterscotch bars and even has a 2 page spread on making the perfect Victoria sandwich cake, which is something I've yet to achieve but certainly aim for, and now I have a simple, easy to follow guide, complete with step by step picture to help me in my quest thanks to this magazine, what's great about it is that it's a simple Victoria sponge with jam and cream no fancy decorative techniques or icing, you don't need to be Delia Smith to make this one.
With 64 recipes in the main magazine alone this is a cook book not just a simple magazine, the recipes are so simply laid out even I can follow them with ease and it's great to be able to tell the nutritional value in each meal, it helps me make sure we're all getting enough goodness.
Ready, Steady Cook Pull Out-
The "Ready, Steady, Cook" pull out magazine features yet more suggestions and recipes from the television show's stars, they seem slightly more complicated and "cheffy" than the recipes in the main magazine but Paul Rankins cherry trifle with chocolate mousse looks absolutely heavenly even if it is awfully unhealthy, there's a good selection of desserts in this pull out feature, all as appealing as the next. This extra magazine also features an interview with one of the shows chefs and has some fun crosswords, sudoku and word search puzzles to help you pass the time when you're waiting for that delicious meal you've chosen from the magazine to finish cooking, I never really do these kind of puzzles as my 3 year old likes to do them, not that he gets the answers right but he feels like a grown up and I don't mind him doing them.
As far as it being a special extra magazine goes it doesn't really live up to much, yes there are several recipes and a few small articles as well as the interview but considering the magazine is made by the BBC anyway (the makers of Ready, Steady, Cook) I feel like the recipes and features of the extra pull out section could just as easily be mixed in with the rest of the main magazine. It has its own front cover but this is easily missed amongst all the other content in the magazine and you could quite easily flip through the pages and not notice the change in the magazine at all.
Layout, appearance and more-
As you would expect with a food magazine the front cover features ..you guessed it food! Imagine a standard glossy magazine or a "take a break" style magazine with all its headlines for true life stories and replace these with pictures of food with the names of them attached, add a colour code section guide down the side of the front cover and you've got yourself Easy Cook magazines front cover. You open up to a welcome page which seems to be the in thing for magazines now and then onto the 2 page contents section. It's all easy to read, clear text and all the recipes are well labelled and separated meaning you won't refer back to the wrong one half way through preparation. What really sums the magazine up is their tag line beneath the magazine title "real food for busy people" people like you and me.
I'll be honest, the overall appearance of the magazine is nothing special, it is well put together, colourful and full of helpful photos but overall it simply reminds me of one of those supermarket freebie magazines that you find on the end of checkouts. Of course there are some significant differences between BBC Easy Cook and those supermarket mag's, firstly this magazine is purely dedicated to cooking and recipes, there are a few bits about nutrition and equipment but there's not one piece about fashion, which is wonderful as nothing bores me more then 20 pages worth of the same woman posing in Georges own range fashion, there are also very few adverts and competitions, meaning the majority of the magazine is dedicated to the recipes. Where I would usually cut any interesting recipes out of the supermarket mag' and stick them in a scrap book of other recipes BBC Easy Cook allows me to simply add the whole magazine to my cookery book shelf and not worry that I'm taking up valuable space with pictures of cushions and candles. Another nice feature of the magazine compared to supermarket magazines is that the recipes call for ingredients that can be easily found, rather than something rarer or more complicated that can only be found within the store the magazine is published by.
The same can be said about this magazine compared to other food and cooking magazines, the recipes are far simpler allowing you to create dishes out of ingredients most of us would have hanging around, they also have a great deal more ad content then Easy Cook.
This magazine really achieves what it set out to do and that is to provide quick and easy meal ideas for people too busy or lacking the passion to create large, fancy or Michelin star quality meals. The recipes are so easy to follow, written down in basic steps and accompanied with a picture so you can make sure you've got it right, I like this kind of recipe layout, it can often be confusing following the intricate steps of a recipe but these are much easier to get right. The range of recipes provided gives enough choices that you will never get bored of eating similar style foods everyday, and with over 70 recipes in total you could create 2 of the options everyday for a month and not repeat yourself. Alongside the endless recipes are also lots of tips on how to enhance basic recipes if you've got more time or would prefer a slightly different flavour, this is great because it allows you to be a bit more experimental if you've got the time or inclination. The time scale for some of the recipes is just perfect with quick 10 minute dishes and lunch box suggestions it certainly helps make the busy life of a mum or dad easier to manage, there are many times when I've only got 10 or 15 minutes to grab something to eat so this magazine is great, I can get something different and exciting without making myself late and I know I'll be getting nutritious food to help in my weight gain challenge.
For £2.50 this magazine is great value for money, I have cook books with less recipes that cost 5 times the amount of this magazine and none of them give such a wide range of foods which are as quick or easy to create, they're usually published by some self important celebrity chef who fills half the pages with oversized photographs and waffle, Easy Cook magazine features recipes which for the most part are faceless, it's not about the chef it's about you at home creating something simple yet delicious for your family.
As far as entertainment goes with this magazine, well it has little, after all 90% of its pages it dedicated to the recipes and photos, it's not the kind of magazine you'd pick up for a little light reading, there are no true life stories or celebrity gossip, it is a pure straight forward cooking magazine, no fuss or frills, it doesn't pad itself out with repeated stories or dramatic headlines, it is simply something you grab for a little meal time inspiration. It's perfect in its role, I'll happily flick through the pages seeing which recipe can tempt me when I'm stuck for something interesting to make, I like to try and encourage my little ones to eat a wide range of foods and this magazine provides a great range of exciting and new styles that I can introduce them to.
I have to admit there will be certain recipes in each issue that I would not necessarily try and there will be some that I will use time and time again, such meals as spiced bean pilaff and lemon and coriander cous cous aren't really my kind of food however the chicken with lemon and thyme or waffles with fruit and coconut cream are the kind of meals I know could be quickly made and thoroughly enjoyed more than once. I think it's the same with all cook books and recipe magazines, you will find what suits you best, experiment a little with what tempts you and maybe even completely turn your nose up at some recipes, but there's enough in Easy Cook magazine for you to use all these options, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't at least one recipe that appeals.
I'm particularly looking forward to the next issue on November 7th, the autumn issue has some great recipes and I can wait to try out the butterscotch bars recipe this week with the kids (I've been saving it as a treat) but the next issue will be for winter and will be stuffed with great wintry recipes and Christmas suggestions, I cant wait, my imagination runs wild at the thought of all the different ideas the magazine will have especially for baking and those including the kids, if no other season can get the kids involved in cooking Christmas will never fail.
I get my copy of BBC Easy Cook from W.H.Smiths for the cover price of £2.50 although I've never really deliberately looked for it elsewhere I know that my local supermarket does not stock the magazine, so it's probably one that you'll need to go to a specialist store for. You can subscribe to the magazine at the special price of £9.99 for 6 issues, that's apparently a saving of 30% on the price, which is always nice, subscribing can be done by sending off the coupon inside the magazine, calling to subscribe (08448481104 quote ref ECP1507) or by going online to www.subscribeonline.co.uk/easycook.
I would highly recommend this magazine, with so much variety in the recipes there's bound to be something for everyone, even the more experienced cooks should be able to find a recipe they like within its pages. It's quick to read, easy to follow, great to accompany you as you cook, you can abandon it for weeks and then just refer back to it when you're lacking inspiration, it's a great cooking tool and is far cheaper and simpler then a cookery book, it also weighs a lot less so you wont have a heavy bag when you go out to the shops to buy it!
What shall I cook for dinner tonight? As much as I love cooking, and since retiring have more time (or so Im told!) I dont often plan menus in advance. I cook what I feel like on the day. But sometimes you want to try something new, maybe something easy and quick to prepare, but it must be tasty and look good in other words look as if Ive slaved over the stove preparing something wonderful for my loved ones!
I love having magazines to browse through and spotted the BBC Easycook in Somerfields one day. Im a fan of cookery programmes and often use the BBC website to find a recipe that Ive seen cooked, so decided to fork out £2.50 for the magazine.
Value for Money?
Oh yes. I was amazed at how many recipes there were I would try, as I have shelves of cookery books and use only a few recipes from each of them, meaning that a recipe may cost me £3 or more! Out of the 80+ recipes in the autumn magazine I would make over half the recipes so a recipe costs only a few pence.
It now costs £2.50 not as shown on the Dooyoo picture! But you can subscribe and get the 6 issues a year - it is a bi-monthly magazine for just £9.99 delivered to your door free of charge. A real bargain deal. Plus in each copy there is an extra pull out feature by Ready Steady Cook chefs. Plus and this is what I like about it - there are hardly any adverts, and only a few useful articles.
Whats in it?
The first page has a welcome from the Editor, information on how to contact them and names of staff etc. On the next double page spread, tempting photos indicate the different sections of the magazine and give the page numbers. This includes Whats for supper? Feeding the kids. From your storecupboard. Family meals. Cooking for friends. Easy baking. Plus a great easy conversion chart if you want to change the metric to pounds and ounces, plus details of which page shows you an offer, and preview of the next magazine. There is also an index on the last page dividing the food into Meat and Poultry, Fish and Seafood, vegetarian, Side dishes and extras, desserts and cakes and bakes, with all items in alphabetical order, so if you want something different with chicken you can find it quickly.
Each of the recipes clearly state how many it serves, when it will be ready, the cost per portion, the calories and the amount of fat and whether it is suitable for freezing, which if you are making a recipe for 4 and there are only 2 of you, half can be frozen for another day if suitable.
Whats for supper.
There are some delicious recipes and most of these take 20 minutes to cook, plus preparation time. There are also suggestions what to serve with the meals, and for example if you dont have instant noodles, cook some egg noodles in vegetable stock. I like the fact it gives the cost, if its the end of the month and your purse is empty, baked leeks with ham and corn served with a green salad, is only a £1 a portion, similar to a recipe I used to make and long since forgotten, but a great way of using up thin ham bought for sandwiches and never used! Spiced Rice with prawns costs only £1.06 a portion and is ready in 20 minutes, cheaper and healthier than getting a Chinese takeaway.
I love puddings. They might not be good for me but I love them! There are some that only take 10 minutes to make! A black forest trifle made so quickly would impress most people and satisfy the sweet toothed and chocolate cravers amongst us.
Feeding the Kids.
I dont have children living at home now, but would use the idea from the Meatball and bacon Toad! Instead of ordinary Toad in the hole, they add bacon, red onion and herbs. I would make my own batter, but they use a packet mix, although they add a recipe if you have more time. Articles are rare in this magazine, but there are a couple of pages on cooking for children and suggestions for packed lunches, with some really tempting ideas. I fancy the Marmite bites! Bacon and Pumpkin pasta will be on the menu here soon too, you can use Butternut squash if no pumpkins about, and it sounds similar to my Risotto recipe but using pasta, and at 74p a portion is great value.
From the Storecupboard.
We all have days when we dont feel like going out or may be cant as were waiting for a delivery which could be between 8am and 8pm! There are some tasty pizza recipes, and some using beer!
Some interesting chicken recipes in this edition for easy weekend food, and a wonderful looking waffle for breakfast served with coconut cream and fresh fruit. They use ready made waffles, but I have a wafflemaker and might try this one. There are a few recipes which take longer cooking in the oven which is OK at the weekend when you can put the casserole in and then relax until its ready. There are seasonal recipes using blackberries in a cobbler and plums in a Crème brulee, both look wonderful! Plus a Toffee apple and Brioche pudding which I can recommend as I made it, and although they suggested using bread if you hadnt got Brioche I used a Fruit loaf and the result was yummy! The last recipe in this section was as upper on standby, I made it last night and it certainly will be on the menu here again, it was a Tomato and pepper risotto with Olives and Griddled salmon. Quite high in calories but Salmon is the kind of fish we need to eat more often, and although I used green olives it still tasted fab.
Cooking for friends
Here is the suggestion for a safari supper, where you roam to a different friends house for each course. Not sure if Id like that idea, as it means coming back to the dirty dishes! There is also a suggestion on suitable wines.
There is a section on making the most of fish with a recipe amongst others for tasty Spicy tuna and chickpea patties.
I know a lot of people say they can cook but not bake. I learned to cook as an 11 year old and so dont have a problem, but there are clear instructions on making cheddar cheese scones. Plus recipes for some yummy Butterscotch bars, frosted carrot cake and another recipe with picture instructions for a Victoria Sandwich cake.
Ready Steady Cook Booklet
I put on inches just looking at the gorgeous puds featured in this edition!
Im going to have to make the Lemon Curd Cheesecake soon Im pleased to say this only gives the number it serves and time! No cost or calories!
There are some articles to read, a feature on Ready Steady new boy Alex MacKay and a section called Coffee break with Crossword, Sudoku and Wordsearch. Answers in the next edition! Plus a competition to enter to win a Smoothie maker. A useful list of websites for the chefs if you have time to surf.
Did I like it?
Im sure you guessed I DID! Its the best value magazine Ive bought for ages. There is something for everyone. It is exactly what it says. Easy cook.
Will I buy it again?
Most definitely, especially as the next edition is a special for Christmas and New Year, a time when we want to eat things which look and taste amazing but not spend days cooking.
If you havent bought this magazine yet, then I suggest you look out for it or look out for the next one on November 7th. It will give you lots of ideas or easy to cook meals.
Looking back on my school years I can remember thinking that food technology was going to be an easy GCSE option. I thought nothing could be simpler than chucking a few ingredients together and mixing them up to create a masterpiece. I was very naive, as my jam Swiss roll ended up being a giant sandwich, my pizza was cremated and you could break your teeth on my scones.
Fast forward ten years, and it will come as no shock to you that I stayed well clear of the kitchen. It was only when one day mum came home from the paper shop and threw this food magazine at me, that I had hope I could cook even the simplest of dishes. As I turned the pages and scanned over the recipes, I realized that cooking really doesnt have to be complicated and that possibly I could be the next Delia Smith (0.k not quite).
To entice anybody to consider buying a magazine, the front page clearly has to catch your eye and reel you in. Looking over all the previous editions of the magazine what strikes me first, is the mouth watering recipes on the front and already I want to learn how to recreate them. The sharp photos bring the food to life, and you can almost smell and taste the food, just by the sight of them.
For those of you where time is of the essence, youll be pleased to know that in bolds letters at the top it says Real food for busy people. On the front and to the side are highlights of whats featured and by those alone it was enough for me to settle down and have a peek.
At just over 80 pages in length, this magazine is perfect just to flick through on a lazy afternoon and to give you some fresh and exciting ideas. As I said just now the photos are almost bring the food to live by having a somewhat 3D effect to them. The writing is kept to a minimum, making each page an easy read and also keeping each recipe very simple that even I can follow them.
While flicking through a previous edition here, it is clear to me that great care has been taken to make this magazine all about the fun of cooking. While to some people Im sure that they see it more as a task that needs to be got on with, these magazines by keeping it easy (hence the title) and full of bold bright colours, I personally cant wait to get out in the kitchen.
As with most magazines the contents page is your gate way to immediate access of the areas you want to cover.
Each section is also colour coordinated which makes it easier still to head straight for your desired area of the magazine. Its split up by two headings easy everyday food and easy weekend food. Under these headings can be found the following:
Meals In Minutes
As the title suggests here you can find various recipes to be made in 20 minutes or less. One of my favourite was the bacon and potato pan fry which was very simple to make and very filling to eat. This section usually contains at least 10 meals to make that need very little ingredients.
Feeding The Kids
Here you will find many healthy filling recipes such as mini muffin pizzas (sure to go down a treat), and the family classic macaroni cheese. Again all of the meals featured are quick and simple to make, and something your children can easily get involved with.
From Your Store Cupboard
This section is a favourite of mine, as the recipes involve ingredients most of us would have at home. As somebody who loves eggs it was interesting to see how many different concoctions you can come up with. Baked eggs with spinach and Parmesan were one of the highlights for me, and it only took 25 minutes to make. Warming Vegetable soup is another recipe Ill be tackling soon and is perfect for this time of year.
Cooking For Friends
This section features lots of meals that look like youve taken ages to prepare them, so all your friends will be well impressed. In reality as with all the meals in the magazine none of them take long to put together at all, but will leave you stomach very satisfied. There are many meals and puddings to tackle, and in particular the rich chocolate pudding is something to get the taste buds excited.
For someone who was brought up on a lot of home baked food, the easy baking section was also a hit with me. There is a simple step by step guide on how to make an apple cake, as well as a chicken and mushroom pie and peanut butter and chocolate cookies to name but a few.
When buying magazines what annoys me the most is the amount of adverts that they contain. A quick skim over these magazines and I have counted on average 15/80 adverts featured. This is quite low in my experience of magazines, and they do relate to food and drink.
The summer and autumn 2006 editions also featured a gift of a pull out Ready Steady Cook magazine. I really liked these as they contain useful things such as a guide to herbs, as well as 10 minutes quickies which I can assure is food related and not something else,lol.
There is also a spot the difference and crosswords to be found, although personally I would have preferred those few pages to contain more recipes or cooking tips.
At the back of the magazine you can find the recipe index which is easy to scan down and find recipes that are of interest to you.
Since purchasing the magazine back in the summer of 2005, I have been waiting in anticipation for the each subsequent edition. While some of the features have been tweaked about and some removed, the magazine continues to be a useful resource that I refer to when cooking time and time again. Since its first outing the price has increased from £1.99 to £2.40 which some of you may think is steep, I still find it great value for money as no other book/magazine has been able to make recipes so fun and easy and make me attempt them myself. Each edition is packed with easy to follow mouth watering recipes as well as guides to ingredients and which are the best to use. Now I really do enjoy cooking and dont fear killing anyone with my creations.
If I could improve the magazines in any way it would be to have a frequently asked question section, where readers could pose a question to a panel of chefs or a resident one, and they then provide the answer in the next edition.
These magazines are available at WH Smith stores and many Newsagents and its still possible to get hold of previous editions.
Back Issue Hotline 01795 414746 UK £ 3.07 Overseas £3.25 per issue including P&P.
Subscription Hotline 0870 44294210 Quote ref ECP0906
Although I havent yet subscribed to these magazines, I would advise you to do so. Currently you can get the next 6 issues for £1.65 each, thats a generous saving of £4.50 for the lot, and 30% saving off each one separately.