Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Giraffe Family Cookbook Review

This week's cookery book is The Giraffe Family Cookbook by Hugo Arnold - he of Wagamama cookbook fame (I have both the Wagamama books and will review at least one one of these days! Lovely noodles).

There are 40 Giraffe restaurants in the UK now so quite a few people should be familiar with the kind of food they can expect from the book. I've been to the one in Manchester a few times and have always eaten quite varied things and I've never been disappointed. The emphasis is on healthy food from around the globe, often serving brown rice instead of white, salads packed with veg and seeds and lots of vegetarian friendly dishes - but without appearing too worthy! Not to mention their cocktails which are rather delicious!

The book is a good representative of the Giraffe brand and features recipes you will have seen on their menus. There is a brief introduction from the founder of Giraffe, Russel Joffe, talking about the variety of food on offer and how they try to keep most of the food healthy and suitable for a family. Then it's straight in with the recipes, bar an introduction to each chapter.

Some of the chapters include Breakfast, Brunch and Sandwiches, Sharing For All The Family and Easy Stir-Fries, Curries and Noodle Bowls. There are photos for most recipes which are lovely and bright and the layout is really clear, with little Giraffe Tall Tales at the bottom of some of the pages, either with ingredient substitutions, information about ingredients or suggestions for other recipes using the same ingredients. Nice little additions as you leaf through the book.

The range of recipes is great and I can definitely see this appealing to a family as the food is bright and interesting and healthy enough to eat lots of it. Of course there are some less healthy items such as the Chocolate and Strawberry Pancakes and the Sunday Night Mac and Cheese
but who wants healthy food all the time right?!

The first dish I chose to make was the Prawn Cocktail with Chipotle Spiced Saucee. I have a confession to make however - I had no chipotle chillies so it probably tasted very different to how it should have done but no matter!! I love, love, love prawn cocktail and this isn't terribly different but the tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and paprika in the mayonnaise made for a nicely spicy sauce and worked well against the fresh salad. A nice twist on a classic though I don't suppose it will win any prizes for originality.

Other salads of note include Raw Asian Salad with Thai Dressing, Powerfood Salad Bowl (which reminded me of the Superfood salad in the Leon cookbook), Grilled Salmon Tostada Salad and Sushi Brown Rice Salad with Smoked Salmon.

The second dish I made was the Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Fondue Dip with Tortilla Chips. Absolute heaven. Not the cheapest dish to make as there were 3 kinds of cheeses involved, sour cream and obviously spinach and tinned artichoke - definitely not the healthiest option either! I didn't care, it was completely scrum and it was our whole meal rather than a snack or in addition to something else. It reminded me of a hot dip we had in New York last year and I've never been able to find a similar recipe till now.
There was enough artichoke and spinach to have some in every mouthful which was perfect. The sauce was perhaps a little liquid, I didn't measure the quantities so less soured cream or more cheddar would have fixed it. The recipe called for Monterey Jack cheese but I couldn't find this on the shelves so went with a cheddar instead. I am now in love with this recipe and had better stock up on tinned artichoke!

I really liked the book and as ever it has joined the many others on my wishlist. I think variation of flavours is great, with a lot of dishes inspired from either Latin America or Asia. You could never call any of the dishes boring. One downside is the huge list of ingredients for some recipes which could well put me off, for example you need around 22 ingredients for the BBQ Duck Fajita Burrito as well as a couple of sauces from other sections of the book. Phew! Though on the plus side a lot of the items are herbs and spices.

The dessert section is probably the weakest chapter of the book but to be fair there isn't a huge choice of desserts in their restaurants either and I'm never one to stray too far from a Belgain Waffle or piece of French Toast!

Next I want to make the Miso-Lime Salmon with Wasabi Rice and Green Onions and the Tequila and Lime Chicken Breast on Paella Fried Rice.

I also made a Game Casserole with Caramelised Apples and Cider this week as Waitrose had a special offer on the mixed game packs, consisting of pheasant, mallard, pigeon and partidge. Very seasonal indeed. I also added some red cabbage. Hmmm, I think the apples were my favourite part! I'm glad I've tried the different meats but I found them too strong a flavour and almost liver tasting which isn't great. Ah well, it's good to try something new. If I haven't put you off then find the recipe here: http://www.waitrose.com/recipe/Game_Casserole_with_Caramelised_Apples_and_Cider.aspx
Picked up a delicious After Eight cupcake from a lovely place nearby, And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon http://www.dishandspoonfood.co.uk/ Looking forward to trying the other flavours soon. I needed cheering up after missing out on 2 Bill Granger books during the silly Amazon Black Friday deals. Did anyone manage to get anything? Wii Consoles for £50 :-( But mostly 2 Bill Granger books for £15 - woe is me!! Did get a good deal on some boots though I suppose.


  1. I have had trouble trying to track down chipotle chillies! I'm hoping to cook the whole book - follow my progress in my blog http://cookinggiraffes.blogspot.com/ Haven't made either of the two dishes you've blogged about here yet. Have you tried any others?

  2. Not tried any others as yet. It was a library copy but I've bought it myself now. Lots to try, will keep any eye on your Giraffe adventures!