One thing I can say, without even blinking, is that I totally love reviewing cookbooks. Totally. I love trying out new flavours, I love learning new tricks in the kitchen and to be honest cookbooks have become works of art. Our family loves trying out new recipe books too and they tend to result in very fun dinners, packed with tasting new flavours and trying out new treats. When I saw that Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook was coming out I might have been more than a little excited…
The problem with this book is that I fell in love with it and I have paged and paged and paged my way through it day after day. Most cookbooks we page our way through and pick out se7en+1 recipes, try them out and then write a review… but this book we literally haven’t stopped cooking from it in weeks: just trying this, and just trying that and we have to dash to the store for this or that, to try just one more recipe. The point is I have to share this book with you… and then leave it next to my desk for every time I am looking for some creative inspiration… because this book is an inspiration.
Se7en+1 Things we really love About This Book.
- It feels exactly like a notebook: It feels like the kind of journal you would toss in a bag when you are going on a trip and then fill it as you go… and this notebook has been filled with snippets and bits and bobs.
- The Recipes: Well it is a cookbook, and so it has recipes… loads of them. We tried and tested more than a few of them. I confess many of them went straight onto our menu and we have had them over and over again, already. The recipes are beautifully photographed and you see exactly what you are making and how it should turn out. Always useful, especially if you aren’t actually Rachel Khoo.
- The Pages In-between: Oh these are the heart of the book for me, they look and feel like a travel journal with watercolour pages and photographs stuck in… pages and pages of beautifully created collage. The pages are perfectly imperfect, they look so casual… watercolour splotches and photographs taped in, maps and snippets from outings, odd bits and bobs that you would pin on your noticeboard.
- Rachel Khoo Creates Beautiful Food: Before you read the recipes your eye is naturally drawn to the beautiful photographs and the new and enticing flavours. From the photographs you are drawn to read the recipes and interwoven through the recipes are tips to help you master them. A lot of thought went into this book and a lot of effort went into creating recipes that we couldn’t help wanting to try.
- The Recipes are full of Variety: What I love about her recipes is that they aren’t rigorous and set in stone: Puff pastries… packed with all sorts of different fillings; Underground eclairs… flavours inspired by the London Underground; and breadsticks, or grissini in half a dozen different varieties have become a family fave!!! Lots of her recipes were easy to adapt to ingredients we had at home already.
- A Family Recipe Book: This book was one that everyone wanted to be part of, there are recipes for every level of chef… and something for everyone to be involved in. I am all for kids being able to prepare wonderful meals and being part of whatever feast we are eating.
- Nothing too Obscure: There are few things more difficult than reviewing a cookbook that uses obscure ingredients for their recipes. But this book had very few obscure ingredients and plenty of alternatives. The basics consisted of basics… ingredients we either had or we could dash to the local store and grab. Of course there were some more interesting ingredients… like razor clams, but mostly just regular ingredients!!!
- And then there is Rachel Khoo: Of course there is heaps of the lovely Rachel Khoo throughout the book. Little snippets and plenty of anecdotes…
And the se7en + 1th…
Se7en+ 1 of the Many Recipes We Tried.
- Baked Goat’s Cheese Cigars: My gang absolutely loved these and had they known how easy it was to prepare such lovely looking food, I think they would have tried ti years ago.
- Panzanella: I have really wanted to make one of these for years and have always put it off before… but just saying this goes right to the top of the favourite feast list and definitley going to be brought out foe special occasions.
- London Loaf Three Ways: Well this turned out to be way fabulous… a crispy base flat pizza type bread. We loved these and have been making variations of the same ever since.
- Sticky Chicken with Malaysian Salad: Well this has become Monday night dinner… and anyone who visits on a Monday will find this on the menu. So easy to prepare in advance and totally relish and more-ish.
- Mushroom Stroganoff with Spinach and Wild Rice: Firstly our kids love wild rice – why don’t we cook with it more and all except one love mushrooms… this turned out to be the perfect comfort food for Sunday dinner on a wet and wintry night.
- Lemon Lava Cake: Oh these were stunning and were so professional… I didn’t make them in ramekins, I popped into cupcake moulds and then tipped them over at dessert time, a bit of a cheat, but it worked and they were a lot easier to make than I had anticipated. Honestly, not much beats a lemon dessert.
- Chocolate Bark: Why oh why have we never ever made this before… well possibly because it is somewhat fatal… we added dried cranberries and nectarines, but really the world is your oyster and you can add anything!!!
- Sweet Chilli Sauce: I confess I live with a group of chilli lovers, the hotter the better… and they could eat this sauce constantly, on everything. In fact I think they do. I literally make it by the gallon, it vanishes that fast. After chocolate bark it could be the easiest recipe in the world.
And the se7en + 1th…
Rachel Khoo’s Notebook was given to us for review purposes, by Penguin Random House South Africa. It is not a sponsored post, and the opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.