Thursday, October 24, 2013

Marie Claire: 10 Years of Great Food by Michele Cranston ★★★★★

Reviewed by Carmel (my sister-in-law)

          My sister-in-law, Carmel, is an amazing cook. She has four gorgeous children, and they would have to be the luckiest kids on the planet to eat her meals every day.  At most family gatherings, Carmel is the designated dessert-bringer. Her cakes are legendary and worth driving long distances to scoff.
          She, also, has strong opinions. If she doesn't like something, like books I recommend, she tells me. So, I thought who would be more perfect than my sister-in-law to review a few of the gorgeous cookbooks on offer.  If Carmel says it’s a good cookbook then I can guarantee it is a good cookbook and worth the dollars.
This book she absolutely loves and it has become a mainstay in her kitchen.

Over to Carmel…

          I am what you would call a “cookbook cook” and I like to think I can cook anything as long as I have the recipe in front of me and a picture. Of course, this doesn’t include spaghetti and meatballs or crumbed chicken/meat, as these I can do in my sleep and my family would happily eat only these dishes on alternate nights. However for the sake of variety and nutritional value, I need four to five other meals to fill my dinner week.
          Hence, a good cookbook is essential. And, no, I don’t want to Google recipes on my iPad. I like to turn a page and have a beautiful book sitting on my bench.
So, over the years, my cookbook collection has grown. Despite the fact I have a shelf (actually several shelves) full of cookbooks, I always find myself using the same ones. My favourites include several of the Marie Clare series.
           The people at Marie Clare have released “Marie Claire: 10 Years of Great Food” and it has quickly become the “king” of my cookbook collection. After using this book for a few months I can say it definitely ticks all the boxes for those of us that are dedicated “cookbook cooks”:

þ Simple recipes with precise instructions—Tick
If you follow what is written, you cannot get it wrong. The instructions are short and to the point with no unnecessary family stories or historical references to the origin or region from which it evolved.
þ Recipes use every day, easily sourced products—Tick
You don’t have to drive thirty minutes to the alternative farmer’s market to buy some herb of which you will only use two leaves leaving the rest to wilt in the fridge. And you won’t have to go to the specialty gourmet food shop for a spice costing twice as much as anything in Woolworths or Coles, which then sits in your pantry until it’s use by date expires.
þ Beautiful pictures showing exactly what the dish should look likeTick
There are no scenes of the countryside or elaborate table settings with flowers and fancy tableware that dwarf the actual dish, just mouth-watering photos of the food.
þ Tips and facts scattered throughout the recipes—Tick
These are short, useful, easy to read, and almost always answer any queries that inevitably come to mind as you read through the recipe.

          The recipes that I have tried all worked very well, not that I necessarily liked each one but that is a personal preference on flavours and taste. And, if in the future I did decide that I liked figs with chicken then I would no doubt make the “Chicken and Baby Fig Tagine” again because, according to my family, it was delicious.
          “Marie Claire: 10 Years of Great Food” is a beautifully presented book with an exceptional variety of recipes that look like ‘dinner party’ food but are actually simple enough to cook any day. So often when you are looking at buying cookbooks you will think “Do I really need another cookbook?” Well, this one you do!

Marie Claire: 10 Years of Great Food” is available now and RRP is $59.99 (well worth it Carmel says.)

Thank you to Allen and Unwin Australia for Carmel’s review copy
VISIT Murdoch Books for purchasing details and more information on books authored by Michele Cranston.

           Join Michele Cranston, award-winning food writer and stylist, on a journey that will transport you from an alfresco table in summer through to a wintery afternoon of comfort food. Along the way you will experience the fresh seasonal flavours that have always been associated with marie claire recipes.
          Simple, innovative and inspiring, this book brings together over 250 of Michele’s favourites — from Lemon and thyme lamb cutlets and Chicken and baby fig tagine to Summertime pavlova and Chocolate mousse cake.
Layered with anecdotal tales and memories 10 Years of Great Food with Michele Cranston captures her passion and talent that form the core of these enticing recipes.