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Monday, February 24, 2014

Recipe Book Reveiw Part 1

I don’t know when it happened exactly but at some point over the past several years, cooking and cookbooks became an obsession maybe even an addiction. Some people get a buzz when they buy new shoes, clothing or maybe even a game for their playbox thing. Whatever the thing maybe I’m pretty certain that to some extent most people get some kind of lift when they buy or receive something new. That is what it is like for me, when I get a new cookbook or I am able to produce something which has been particularly elusive in the success department (I get very frustrated and annoyed when things don’t go to plan and one of two things happen, it either goes in the bin and I throw a massive temper tantrum, not quite the lying on the floor kicking my legs type, but close to that. Or I get really angry throw it in the bin and then proceed to make it over, and over again until I get it right) A friend of mine asked a few months ago now, which books I would recommend, which is a difficult question to answer, it depends what it is you want them for. For example if you are after a selection of decent recipes, that covers a wide selection of different things including some baking recipes then I would definitely opt for a Mary Berry (DK publisher) I have several and so far all the recipes have turned out fabulously. Technically speaking if that’s all you want it for, then one book like the Mary Berry, although there are several different types and authors to choose from which I will get to in time. I enjoy cookbooks and will regularly read them as my night time book of choice, and I go back to them over and over again. If I am really honest I have started to deface them slightly, crossing out ingredients I am never likely to, want to use, changing the weights of some of the ingredient and adding ingredients where I added something different to what was in the original recipe, (although I am probably going to stop that, I have only done it a couple of times and it feels WRONG to do it). I read all my books cover to cover! Learning different techniques and getting different ideas. This is a comprehensive list of all my cookbooks why I bought them, or indeed where I got them from, as some I have acquired, why I love it and whether or not I would recommend them to someone else.

I am not going to include the mini-books or magazine recipes/recipe magazines I have or I will be here forever, in my current state including those as well as the books I must stand at well over 360 if not more? Now I will have to go count them…… Pfffffft.

So here we go I will be splitting this up into about 18 posts, give or take, ten books to each one, I shall capitalize the title and use a different colour so you can see the title easily and decide for yourselves if you want to read about it!!!????  One last thing before we get started, I have used the RRP in some places I may have put the price I paid and the RRP, if you look around you can get these books SOOOOO much cheaper, I have paid as little as £10 for a book with a RRP of £25, some of the older books I was unable to get a price for them, RRP or otherwise so I didn’t include those prices and whilst I have misplaced my price list I made up and can’t rightly remember, I think in total my books are worth over £2000 but I paid considerably less….. So please, please shop around, online shops, such as Amazon are brilliant for picking up a bargain, even if you opt for a second hand Very Good condition book. Second hand stores if you are lucky are a good place to look or the market, large superstores such as Giant in America or Target even the dreaded Wal-Mart which despite the regular ridicule I did enjoy picking up a bargain in there, here in England, Asda, Tesco and in some cases Morrison’s can be a good place to pick up books, I also use WHSmith and Waterstones, the latter being somewhat expensive and used as an absolute last resort, although I am a member so I get £10 off for every ten books that I buy. 


  1. Cadbury Dairy Milk, 30 best loved recipes This one is meant to be part of a larger set of mini books “30 best loved” I like it and it has some really cool chocolate recipes, but apart from the two I have I didn’t go on to collect the whole set, They aren’t worth the £2.99 price tag per book, with the first issue I only paid £0.99, a promotional price for the pair, but I wasn’t prepared to pay the normal price for just one book with 30 recipes, if you look around you can pick up little recipe books with 200 recipes in them for the same price tag.

  1. Lyle’s Golden Syrup, 30 best loved recipes this is the other one of the best loved recipes collection, again it has some really good recipes in it but it still didn’t inspire me enough to go out and buy the whole collection.
  2. 200 Fab Fish Dishes I love this little cookbook, whether you want fishy nibbles like salt and chilli squid, soups like onion bean soup with prawns, a starter such as devilled oysters, or a main course of monkfish wrapped in Parma ham, there really is a fish dish for everyone, assuming you like fish that is. RRP £4.99
  3. Goodfood 101 speedy suppers (BBC Books) I have three from this collection, that my daughters bought me for Christmas one year, I am not sure how many titles there are in total for this collection, but I am guessing that it stands at well over 50, all are sub-categorised and consist of a lovely selection of triple tested recipes. If you are looking for a few recipes that are “speedy supper” related (or whichever title you may choose) then this is a collection of books that I would definitely recommend, the recipes are easy to follow and assuming you are cooking something that you like and you do follow the recipe or there about, there is no reason why this book wouldn’t be for you. Besides triple tested recipes, they’ve got to be good right? RRP £4.99
  4. Goodfood 101 more one pot dishes I loved this one even before I opened the first page, “One pot dishes” what’s not to love? It’s full of recipes from around the world; there is something for everyone, pasta and rice dishes, soups and stir-fries or quick roasts and stews. Whether you are cooking for your family or a group of friends, you are bound to find an easy, hassle free recipe in this book. RRP £4.99 although I have seen them slightly cheaper.
  5. Goodfood 101 best ever curries this has a little of everything, Kormas, spicy lamb, biryani, pilaf, everything in-between and desserts. It’s mostly full of Indian or Thai recipes, but whether you are a veggi, only eat fish (not meat) or enjoy your meat, this book really does cover a wide range of recipes. RRP £4.99, Having looked through a lot of these books in store as well as my own and I have also borrowed some from the local library, I would definitely say that the Goodfood 101 is worth the money spent.
  6. 100 Best Casseroles and Stews this is a lovely little book. Right at the beginning of the book it gives you some hints and tips as to how to achieve the best results. It has a b├ęchamel sauce recipe and four basic stocks which can be used with various recipes throughout the book. Whether it’s meat, poultry, fish and seafood, or veg and pulses you will find something in this one, each recipe is accompanied by big, clear, colourful pictures, and the recipe is written in easy to follow instructions. RRP £8.00 but I picked it up for £5.00
  7. Creative food processor cooking I got this one free with my Kenwood food processor, the first one I had which I have since given to my baby sister (not the cookbook though, I am not parting with my books). I’ll be honest I haven’t used this yet, so I can’t comment on the recipes, but it does have some useful information on the first few pages and then a small collection of basic, soups and starter, meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, vegetables, cakes and desserts and finally breads. Obviously each recipe requires the use of a food processor, and whilst it seems like a nice book, clear instructions and some pretty pictures, if it hadn’t been a freebee with my machine I don’t think it would be top on my list of must buys. Amazon are charging between £0.01 - £9.99 although a penny sounds cheap, you have to pay £2.80 PP for a second hand book that could quite easily be sent for the price of a large stamp. Personally I am not sure that it is worth the price?
  8. The biggest loser, weight loss planner this is one of those mini-book/magazine style ones, that I picked up at the checkout of the American superstore Giant. I bought it with the intention of using the recipes to lose a little weight, of course as with all diets I never got round to it, but the recipes are sound, low in calories and fat and the ones we have tried are delicious. I liked it when I bought it because it still included things like pancakes, BLTs and burgers which are not normally foods you’d associate with weight loss and yet certainly a few of my favourites. RRP $4.99 which is what I paid in store.
  9. Betty Crocker, cupcakes, cakes and more another mini-book/magazine. If you are a purist and don’t agree with cake mixes and cookie mixes etc. then this probably isn’t the right book for you but if you are like me and don’t really mind using a mix, then this could be a good one to own – it had never occurred to me that cake and cookie mixes could be used in any other way, other than the instructions on the back of the box, this little book though goes onto show just how versatile these mixes can be! RRP $5.99

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fake Snickerdoodles

Although the title implies that these are snickerdoodles, that’s not actually the case, I guess you could say that is false advertising in that case. Proper snickerdoodles are cookies coated in a cinnamon and sugar, and not actually anything to do with snickers (candies) chocolate bars… So now that I have cleared that little bit up, here is my recipe for the fake Snickerdoodles.


2 cups softened butter

2 cups peanut butter

2 cups white caster sugar

2 cups brown caster sugar

4 eggs

4tsps vanilla extract

6 cups plain flour

2tps baking powder

1tsp salt

2 snickers each cut into 12 chunks

½ cup sugar for sprinkling

  1. Preheat your oven to 190˚C/375˚F, line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Beat in the butter, peanut butter and sugars in a large bowl until well combined and creamy, beat the eggs and the vanilla extract.
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients, then add a bit at a time to the butter mixture, until it is well incorporated and you have a smooth dough.
  4. Using about a ¼ cup for each cookie, make them into balls forming them around a snicker chunk. Then sprinkle each cookie with sugar
  5. Bake until browned a little around the edges, about 12 minutes.
  6. Cool slightly and the move to a wire rack.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I like these cookies, even I managed to make a success out of these despite my baking nemesis being ever present still (well at this point in my cooking adventure anyway) these are particularly good for a couple of reasons, the first being they are a fab treat to make with the kids, and they also double up as Christmas tree decorations, but you could omit the sweetie bit and opt for royal icing and use the flood technique to ice them instead. This is a really versatile recipe and one which I have used several times for that reason. You are not limited either, you can use any cutter and design them however you would like.

Christmas Tree Decorations

225g softened butter

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

2tsp vanilla extract

280g plain flour

Pinch salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Multi-coloured boiled sweets, crushed in their separate colours

Hundreds and thousands, ribbon to decorate

  1. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, then add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Sift the flour and the salt into the butter mixture and stir until well combined, halve the dough into balls wrap in cling film and chill for about an hour.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190˚C/375˚F and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper, unwrap the dough and sandwich between two sheets of baking paper and roll it out, using Christmas themed cutters, cut out your cookies, place them on the cookie sheets spacing them quite far apart.
  3. Use a large plain piping nozzle to cut holes in the centre of each cookie, then using a skewer poke smaller hole in the top of each cookie (so you can poke the ribbon through later for hanging) Brush the tops of each cookie with egg white and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands, bake in the oven for about 7 minutes.
  4. Remove the cookies from the oven, fill the holes with the boiled sweets and return to the oven for a further 5-8 minutes, or until golden and the sweets have melted and filled the holes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets then transfer to wire racks, finally add thread the ribbon through the holes.

Six Layer Bars

My husband, Glen, was working for a company in an office, doing something with computers, I still don’t know what that was. He would come home every night and tell me what he was doing but it was too much for my little no technical brain to compute, and I am still at that stage where it matters to me if I look stupid, fat, ugly and if my legs aren’t shaved. To be perfectly honest I can’t stand the thought of being any less than perfect in the eyes of my husband, or at least what I perceive that to be, which is the best I can be, which is to be honest tantamount to exhaustion at times. However I digress, he worked in an office full of men with very sweet teeth, which gave me the opportunity to try out new sweet recipes, cakes, cookies and bars regularly went with him to work and got shared out. This is a rather moreish recipe but was hardly six layers, it was more like seven ingredients because by the time I had finished apart from the graham cracker crust all the other ingredients were mixed up anyway.

Six Layer Bars

1 ½ cups digestive biscuit crumbs (graham cracker)

½ cup melted butter

1 can nestle, sweetened condensed milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 ½ flaked coconuts

1 cup chopped nuts

  1. Preheat your over to 180˚C/350˚F. In a small bowl, mix together the biscuit crumbs and butter, press the crumbs into a 13 x 9” lined baking pan.
  2. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crumbs then layer with the remaining ingredients, pressing firmly down using a fork.
  3. Bake until lightly browned, 25 minutes approximately, then allow to cool and cut into bars. These can be stored at room temperature.