As a devout meal-planner and someone who loves to cook, finding new recipes to keep my family menu interesting is really important. In recent months I’ve turned to Pinterest to collect recipes because I don’t have any one cookbook that can provide me with healthy, easy and a variety of recipes that I want. I have hundreds of meal ideas pinned to various boards on Pinterest, but because my collection has become so vast it is getting very difficult to comb through them and find recipes.
When I was given the opportunity to review a cookbook and choose which book I wanted from DK Publishing’s site, I was very excited to choose and receive Family Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton.
One of the most important things to me in a cookbook is photos. I want to see how a dish is supposed to look and I want a photo that will entice me to make it! Family Cookbook does not disappoint when it comes to photos. There is a beautiful picture of absolutely every recipe in the book.
Family Cookbook is laid out in a host of useful sections. Family Meals, for example, is subdivided into Fish, Poultry, Meat, Vegetables, Pasta, Rice and Eggs and Cheese. Easy Entertaining includes sections on Sunday Dinner, Kids’ Parties and Brunch, to name a few. There is also a fabulous section on foods for Babies and Toddlers; simple, wholesome recipes that will ensure your little one is eating nutritious, real food (along with some great ways to sneak veggies into their meals!).
Another thing I loved about this cookbook is that it not only provides recipes, but also has a ton of useful information. There’s a section on batching and freezing (I LOVE having ready-made meals in the freezer) and coping with allergies and meals for a week. The recipes are easy to follow and include cooking and prep times (I love this), and any special equipment you might need (think Dutch oven, food processor, etc.).
At the beginning of the book there is a chapter called Recipe Choosers that is then divided into sections such as Pantry Meals, Quick Meals and Cheap Eats. These sections simply showcase photos of recipes and their title and then reference what page to find it on. This is a great way to choose meals that look delicious without having to flip through all 700 recipes.
Family Cookbook is probably the first cookbook that I’ve ever picked up that I marked more than 20 recipes to try right away. Usually I’m lucky to find one or two in a cookbook that seem worthy of my time and effort. During the first week alone that I had the book I added four meals from it to my weekly menu plan!
Most of the recipes are for the regular every day cook and aren’t too “fancy”. Of course, there are some more time consuming and challenging recipes within, but what I liked most were that the meals were along the lines of what I usually cook, but gave me some great new ideas to keep our menu fresh. I had no trouble finding recipes with ingredients that I would normally buy or stock (I’m not a fan of buying an obscure ingredient that I’ll use a ¼ of a teaspoon of and the rest will sit in my pantry forever…), that could be prepared in 30 minutes or less (a HUGE win for me) and that are healthy (read: no processed ingredients or canned soups!).
I tried many recipes in this cookbook and there wasn’t a single one that disappointed. There was even a meal that was so good I made it twice in less than three weeks! There are several meals that will definitely become part of our regular menu rotation. Although I have tried over a dozen of the recipes so far, I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this book. I haven’t ventured into the Baking section or the Food to Go chapter yet but they are on my list to try.
Do you want to know what I did cook from this book? Here is a list with a few photos and some brief notes:
Pork Tenderloin with Apple Gravy (page 130)
This is the recipe that I made twice. It is so simple but absolutely delicious. It’s a meal that you can serve to guests and they’ll think you’ve slaved all day, but really, it was quick and easy. Highly recommend.
Baked Feta (page 242)
This was phenomenal. Feta cheese baked with orange zest, fresh oregano (recipe called for mint, but I prefer oregano), honey and a few other ingredients looks and tastes like something you’d get in a restaurant, but again, is super easy. Impress your guests with this delicious appetizer!
Chicken and Chickpea Pilaf (page 231)
If you’ve never cooked with saffron, you should start. It adds the most aromatic and delicious flavour to any dish. It’s worth the money and this dish was a huge winner at the dinner table. I omitted the raisins as I’m in the “raisins ruin everything” camp.
British Breakfast Frittata (page 258)
This would make a fabulous brunch dish but we ate it for dinner. It’s like an all-in-one breakfast buffet in a pan – eggs, bacon, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese. Everyone loved it!
If you’re looking for an all-in-one cookbook that is not dissimilar to the Joy of Cooking style “kitchen bible”, then this is the one for you. I know that it is a book that I will refer to again and again and would highly recommend to all.
About Jennifer Alger Morse:
Jennifer is a married mom of two sons born 15 years apart (yes, you read that right!) living in Hamilton, Ontario. A lover of cupcakes, reading good (and not-so-good) books and all things food, she also spends her days working in the marketing department for a well-known franchise restaurant corporation. Jennifer loves to cook, is a firm believer in the importance of meal planning and likes to try at least two or three new recipes a week. Jennifer is also a member of the National Posts’ Gastropost weekend feature section where you can read about her completed food “missions”. You can also follow her on Twitter @pennesthoughts or on her blog at A Penne For Your Thoughts.