Sunday, 18 August 2013

Sainsbury's Magazine Cookbook Review

I was so very excited to be given the opportunity to review the new cookbook written to mark the 20 year anniversary of Sainsbury's Magazine but I never imagined it would be so enlightening. The striking close-up full page photographs of each recipe most definitely help to make it one of the most beautiful cookery books I have ever seen. 

Salads by Anna Del Conte

You might be thinking .. how can someone following a vegetarian and gluten-free diet rave on so much about a book which clearly doesn't obviously cater primarily for either of those two things? The answer is .. I don't restrict my reading about food, even if I'm not ever going to make a particular recipe, I like to peruse flavour combinations and I'm often wowed by the unusual choices of ingredients that chefs manage to make work together. Also, due to the wide availability of gluten-free products, I often discover that most recipes can easily be made suitable for a gluten-free or even a grain-free diet. That said, I was curious to discover how this cookbook would be of benefit to vegetarians and how gluten-free friendly it actually is. Sainsbury's have kindly given me their permission to publish some of the photos from the book so you can catch a glimpse of it's content.

How is the book laid out? The book has 9 chapters all beautifully presented as above - 20 years of Sainsbury's Magazine, Soups and starters, Salads and light lunches, Simple midweek suppers, Food for friends (isn't that a lovely title?), Snacks and sides, Puddings and desserts, Cakes and bakes and Index and conversion table (such a great idea). There's also a "Notes" page at the back to jot down your own thoughts and ideas and a section suggesting menu ideas.

Yotam Ottolenghi's Aubergine with buttermilk sauce

How many recipes are in the book? There are well over 100 recipes in the book written both by celebrity chefs and by chefs whose names you are likely to recognise.

How many vegetarian recipes are there? About 75 (I kept getting a different figure every time I counted) are vegetarian and even though there's only 83 recipe headings, some pages have "also try" or "for a veggie option" or "on the side" etc - don't forget to watch out for these special little gems.

How many of recipes are gluten free? Well the answer is...many are naturally gluten free and the majority of the others can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free alternatives for the following:
  • bread/bread crumbs
  • flour 
  • pasta 
  • bulgar wheat - use quinoa instead
  • puff pastry
  • stock
  • ready made sauces
  • alcohol
  • chocolate & cake decorating ingredients
  • processed meat
I think I managed to cover everything but please be vigilant!

You know how menus have GF for gluten-free and V for vegetarian? Well, I was thinking that it would have been so useful if the recipes in this book were labelled the same with additional advice for gluten-free alternatives - maybe that's the future of cookbooks?

Peas à la Français

How easy are the instructions? How can a review be complete if I don't attempt to make a couple of the recipes. The recipe above is Peas à la Français from Ruth Watson and it looked so delicious I couldn't wait to make it. Of course, as usual, I ended up forgetting to buy a couple of ingredients so I had to improvise! I used ordinary carrots instead of baby carrots and used extra parsley in place of the tarragon - probably a key ingredient but never mind we still enjoyed the combination of peas, little gem lettuce, carrots, spring onions and parsley - definitely one for you to make!

Sarah Randell's Pear, ginger and chocolate cobbler

I must admit the dessert above stood right out from the very first time I flicked through, in fact I'm going to make a grain free version of this! Pear, ginger and chocolate cobbler by Sarah Randell, easily the most exciting recipe in the entire book for me! Strangely, I had only just written a simple grain free recipe using pears and ginger which will be appearing in September as a guest post on another blog. Words can't describe this amazing pudding - just take it from me it's worth buying the book for this recipe alone!!! 

I found the instructions very easy to follow as you can see from my photos above. I used coconut palm sugar and Doves Farm gluten-free flour in the dessert and I put a little less butter in the vegetable dish. These adjustments made no difference to the outcome of the recipe - just look at the results!!

Fiona Beckett's Apple, blackberry and macadamia nut crumble

Are there any additional features? Can you see the "kitchen secret" on the left of the picture? There is one of these beauties with nearly every recipe - what a great idea, I LOVE them! They include suggestions on how to make the recipe using different ingredients, cooking tips, extra recipe ideas.

Eric Lanlard's Summer Berry Cake

This book is both practical and aesthetic. The imaginative recipes look complicated but are easy to make and many can be ready to serve within an hour or less. I'm so happy with my book, I intend to make most of the vegetarian recipes and feel very confident that they will taste just as good as they look!