Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Rachel Allen - Entertaining at Home Cookbook Review

This week I have been mostly trying out Rachel Allen's new book Entertaining at Home. As previously posted I absolutely love her Bake book and I also have her Food For Living book. I wasn't sure what I would make of a dinner party cookbook as I rarely cook for people other than La Mama and my brother. The book is pretty big with a lot of different menu ideas. Chapters include Brunches and Lunches, Eating Outdoors, Casual Meals and Small Celebrations. These are split into courses and there are also menu suggestions at the end of each chapter.

The introduction isn't too long which I always appreciate but it gives some nice advice about dressing the table, how to set the cutlery if you're having something a little more formal (a great drawing that makes everything very clear) and how to budget and stay calm!

The layout for the book is much the same as her previous books, everything is very clearly laid out and the instructions are simple to follow. There aren't as many photos as I would like and sometimes the full-colour photos are a bit of a waste, for example opposite the venison sausages with celeriac puree there is a photo of some dishes and out of focus copper pans - I'd much rather have a photo of the dish instead! Oh well! The food photography that is included is beautiful with a nice selection of table cloths!

Obviously I was not making this dish for a dinner party! The glass dish is very unattractive but I couldn't find anything else in a suitable size! Also the eggs look like boobs but the less said about this the better!! This is the Baked Eggs with Creamy Kale, the first recipe in the book. I was only making this for 2 so had to reduce the quanities by two thirds, but I didn't actually follow the quanties. I don't think it mattered too much as long as there was enough cream in the kale and enough cheese on top.

It was very easy to make and tasted delicious. The egg was a nice contrast to the texture of the kale and the cream made it a richer flavour. This would definitely be a great starting point to a dinner party but equally it's a nice dish to have at any time. La Mama said she'd prefer it with spinach so I'll try that next time.

My second dish was the Slow-Roast Ginger and Citrus Shoulder of Pork from the Casual Meals section. I used shoulder steaks instead of a whole shoulder so I cooked it for half of the 12 hours recommended (!). The overnight marinade was simple to put together, I just left out the coriander as a certain brother won't eat things with green speks on it, but mostly because I didn't actually have any coriander! The smell coming out of the oven all afternoon while this was cooking was divine. It smelt like chinese ribs. Yum. The pork was really soft and sweet and there was enough marinade left for a little sauce. Again, as this recipe was for a large pork shoulder I pretty much made up the marinade quantities but it didn't matter at all as this was so, so delicious. I served it with courgette and wilted spring greens with chili flakes.

The brother had it with crispy spring greens as he loves Chinese seaweed. Really easy to make, just takes ages hovering over a frying pan. I was asked when I'd be making the pork again so I think it was a great success!

So great praise for this book. The only annoying thing is the quantities but I understand this as you're meant to be making food for larger amounts of people - it's a given - so I can't grumble too much. Most things sound gorgeous and look very pretty. I want the gin and tonic lemon sorbet in my life and I need the salted caramel chocolate tart in my life! Yet another book to add to my wishlist, this copy is from the library but I just don't want to give it back.

And here is the kind cat who 'helps' me on the computer. Maybe he writes his own blog when I'm not looking!


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