Tuesday, 22 December 2009

book review - delia

I have always felt a bit hot and cold about Delia. Some people like her 'in charge' approach and certainly she sticks to a simple format - no Nigella-esque red silk dressing gowns raiding the fridge at midnight. But sometimes I do feel she can be a wee bit bossy. For example, in one of her recipes where you need to measure a liquid she doesn't just advocate a jug but a glass one at that. If I use a plastic one will Delia have me sitting on the naughty step?

However, I watched her Christmas TV programme and was inspired to buy her book. The recipes she showed the viewers were clear, not too difficult, and proper traditional fare for Christmas.

I found the book to be simple in layout and very clear in its instructions - not that I would expect anything less from Delia. I think what I liked about it best though is that the choice of recipes is extensive - usually in this sort of book you get several ways to cook and use left over turkey with a dull veggie option and perhaps one or two random 'not turkey' dishes that don't really sit well next to the main act of the Christmas Dinner. Not here.

The first thing is that the contents and planner are extremely helpful in theming the foods and also in reminding you of all those wee items you might forget when in a rush. I usually find other people's planners fairly pointless given I am cooking for two most of the time but I found this one helpful.

One of the features I liked best was the inclusion of snacks and nibbles that will see you through unexpected visitors or where a sit down meal is not appropriate. Parmesan twists, sausage rolls and the tomatoe tart with swiss cheese and rosemary are all easy to do and freezable - good for planning ahead or making up several lots and then using as you need them. I have never made sausage rolls and will be making some for coming home from the Nightwatch service.

The vegetarian section is strong - in fact most of the recipes I didn't identify as 'veggie' - with the luxuriant vegetable pie and oriecchiette and walnut sauce stand outs for me that will be getting a practice.

I also liked the inclusion of a hogmanay section - and one that doesn't offend a Scottish reader. Black Bun, Arbroath smokies, Cranachan, trifle and a haggis pie all feature. I am almost embarrassed to say that it is Delia who has inspired me to make Black Bun for the first time.

I would thoroughly recommend this book for anyone who is doing a Christmas Dinner for the first time, as the recipes are straightforward and without frills, but also for the experienced cook. I haven't really focused on the main event dishes as I am happy with doing a Christmas Dinner - but I found the other recipes inspiring for the rest of the Christmas period.

I usually have my folks over on Boxing Day but as we couldn't all make it that day, it will be on the 4th. And with Delia I have reached my goal of revitalising by repertoire. All of the dishes for my family will be entirely new and from Delia's excellent book. I am a picky so-and-so - so this outcome proves how much I like this book!

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