Newest Review: ... are 'over 100 speedy, easy to follow recipes'. Inside the magazine on the first page is a contents page, with more glossy food pictu... more
Easy read, easy follow, easy cook.
Member Name: ButterBear
Advantages: Simple, varied recipes
Disadvantages: too simple for experienced cooks?
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!
Summary: Great magazine, providing help and inspiration to wannabe chefs.
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