Cookbook review: ‘Make It Easy Cookbook’

I was recently asked to review ‘Make It Easy Cookbook: Foolproof, Stylish and Delicious Do-Ahead Recipes’ by Jane Lovett.

The first thing I did when the glossy, untouched book arrived in the post was to have a good look through it. I immediately liked the balance between more traditional English recipes and the array of more unusual and international ideas. The intro from the author Jane Lovett is warm, passionate and she assures us she has tried and tested the recipes many times and likes to cook great food for friends and family with minimum fuss.

The make ahead tips are an excellent bonus, as it is very clear if the tasks can be broken up and done in advance to save doing everything in one go. There is also useful advice about where to find certain ingredients or alternatives. My only tiny criticism is there were a few recipes without photos, and I like to be able to visualise every single one!

As for trying out the recipes: the spanakopita (Greek feta and spinach pie) was very simple to prepare and with only a few ingredients. It smelled amazing and tasted like salty, fragrant comfort food. We ate it hot for dinner and cold for packed lunch the next day. The parmesan-baked fennel was a subtle and classy side dish that was very easy to make and the touch about decorating it with the fennel fronds was lovely. The oriental salad was crunchy, zingy and only took 20 minutes to prepare. I loved how it encourages you to decide what quantity of each ingredient to choose, and think it is a really versatile dish. The salmon en croute with lime and coriander sauce is an interesting twist on a classic dish. So impressive and succulent and yet again it took only 20 mins to prepare!

I absolutely loved the plum frangipane tarts, which are a seriously great fancy dessert staple to have up your sleeve. They were much more straightforward than I expected and looked like something out of a French patisserie! I think I will add a little vanilla essence to the frangipane next time. The ginger creams with pistachio brittle were also totally manageable and very impressive. It was my first time making caramel and it worked! I will also use the brittle recipe to top shop-bought ice cream. I had to increase the flour content in the blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits but once cooked they were a big hit in our house. We ate half and froze half to enjoy later over Christmas.

Other recipes which I plan to try are: Tom Ka Gai (brothy soup); mushroom, thyme and taleggio galettes; Swedish salmon; quick creamy smoked haddock, saffron and chive risotto; baked vietnamese sea bass; tartiflette; crispy straw potato galettes; spiced roast root vegetables (similar to something I make lots at home); panzanella; pineapple and lime carpaccio; spiced orange panna cotta with blueberry compote; lavender and lemon shortbread and soda bread.  I don’t eat meat but there are plenty of meat recipes to choose from too.

Overall, ‘Make It Easy’ pushed me to try recipes I might have written off as too complex, which was a great thing. Those I tried were both simple and delicious!

‘Make It Easy Cookbook: Foolproof, Stylish and Delicious Do-Ahead Recipes’ by Jane Lovett is published by IMM Lifestyle Books.  It can be bought online at http://www.immlifestylebooks.com/page/detail/Make-it-Easy-Cookbook/?K=9781504800549 and from many other online book retailers or well known high street shops.

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