Sunday 20 November 2011

Rachel Allen Easy Meals - Review

Bacon and Potato Gratin with Buttered Cabbage

First off I didn’t mean to go awol, but we have been having problems with the computer, which I do hope are all fixed now. No Cake Slice Bakers today either but do have a look at the blogroll to see what my fellow bakers have baked.

I’ve been a fan of Rachel Allen for a number of years now, and in the past few years it’s with much anticipation that I’ve looked forward to her new books. Her latest one this year is Easy Meals by Rachel Allen published by Harper Collins Publisher in 2011.

It’s full of easy meals and a good number of them are fast too. Lots of picture of the finished dishes, you know really attainable ones. It has a clean layout, not as girly as some of her previous books. The chapters are: *Store Cupboard,* Fast and Fabulous,* Five Ingredients or Less,* One Pot, * No Cook, * and Fuss-Free Extras and Sides*.

I must confess when it first arrived I felt a bit underwhelmed, but I nipped down to our nearest shop and bought the ingredients for bacon and potato gratin and buttered cabbage (see below), and was converted!

A lot of photographs of the dishes, though not every single one is pictured. The book has a very clean, simple layout and for this reason it’s not my favourite Rachel book – I prefer the more feminine and embellished books she has. However, all the recipes I’ve tried have been good, and the book has grown on me.

I feel it’s a sort of follow on from Home Cooking, and that’s no bad thing for the family tea table. There is a TV series on UKTV Food to go with the book ‘Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals’ so that’s a bonus too! There are plenty more recipes I’d like to try, next on the list are: Vanilla Buttercream Squares, Chicken Skewers with Carrot and Apple Salad, Coconut Macaroon Meringue, Fish en Papillote three ways, Honey Mustard Pork Chops, Provencal Beef Stew and Coconut and Cardamom Pannacotta.

As well as the recipes below I’ve also made Rachel’s caramel rice pudding which was lovely, no picture to share here though, plus a couple of her quesadilla options and they were good too, likewise no picture.

Bacon and Potato Gratin with Buttered Cabbage

I made this one the day I received the book, to be honest I might not have made it, but it had to be something my local shop would sell, and this fitted the bill perfectly. Really tasty and well partnered with the cabbage. Even the little one liked it, and of late she has been so fussy. I’m making this again this week.

Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Soup

A great soup this one, smooth, creamy, carroty and a bit spicy from the ginger too, a keeper for sure.

Chicken and Chorizo Rice

This one is hearty and satisfying, I added in some cooked peas and sweetcorn for a few extra veggies and colour.

Chicken Biryani

Now a long slow biriyani, but this was another winner, lovely with a few dishes of bits and bobs, yum!

Little Banoffee Pots

These were yummy too, cream, bananas and toffee – what’s not to like?!

Chocolate Toffee Peanut Squares

I’ve been quite resistant in the past to using salted peanuts in my cooking, but here they do work, giving something familiar a new dimension, mmm.

Stir Fried Steak with Kale

Made this for hubby and I one night, and we both liked it, not cheap, but worth it for a midweek treat.

Pork Stir Fry

Or Rachel’s sweet and sour pork, enjoyed this, would add in a few more veggies next time.

Mediterranean Pasta

This is a one pot pasta dish where the pasta is cooked in with the sauce. I wasn’t sure about this method at all, but I overcame my prejudices and the resulting dish was fast and really delicious.

Next Review Up: Monday Morning Cooking Club