With a tagline of “Mostly Healthy, Always Tasty”, TV host of Channel Ten’s Junior Masterchef and Channel Nine’s first season of Great Australian Bake Off has delivered on her promise with over 100 recipes, most of which are gluten-free.
The large format, thick pages are designed to withstand the spillage of many kitchen messes, and the colourful, full-page photos add temptation to the text. The Table of Contents is useful, with sections like Heartwarming Soups, Salads as the Main Attraction, Simple Sides, Quick Weeknight Meals, Party Tricks, Sweet and Naughty and so on. There’s also an Index at the back, helping you to find the right recipe.
If there’s anything negative to say about this generally well-presented cookbook, it’s that it suffers the modern aversion to useability. Style takes preference over the user experience. While the Table of Contents and Index are useful, there is no list of recipes for quick reference, forcing the user to scour each section to find what they want.
The recipes themselves clearly state how many it will serve, but not how long it will take. The two-column layout, with capitalised, bolded instructions such as SOAK, RINSE, ADD, and HEAT, make the recipes easy to skim and read.
Anna Gare’s instructions are very well laid out and so easy to follow that a bachelor like myself, who once set fire to his own kitchen, can easily and enjoyably follow her instructions. Seriously… I chucked on my headphones to listen to an audiobook while I prepared each dish for my dinner party. All except my dessert was a success, but that one failure came down to personal taste rather than the recipe itself.
Here’s my thoughts on the recipes I tried:
Persian Rice & Lentil Bake (page 88)
This was perhaps the most successful dish of my dinner party with multiple helpings being dished out. Surprisingly, I already had most of the items in the long list of ingredients and, while time consuming, this recipe was so easy to make and so popular with my dinner guests that it’s now up there with my top recipes. The combination of spices, which includes cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon and cloves, is absolutely delicious, while the complex texture of this rice dish is very satisfying. It includes nuts, slivered almonds, cranberries and currents. I wouldn’t change a thing in this recipe. Yummo!
Persian Spiced Lamb Racks (page 112)
One of the best features of this cookbook is the ability to theme your menu, which is precisely what I did. The combination of like-minded flavours both complemented the meal and provided a good variety of tastes. The lamb racks are coated in an amazing marinate before being thrown into the oven and the flavour was absolutely divine.
What I hated about this recipe was the timing, which was completely off. I had to triple the cooking time stated because, after initially doubling the minimum recommended cooking time, the meat was still too bloody and raw – and, no, I don’t have issues with my oven. It did mean my dinner party was delayed by almost an hour while I recooked the meat further.
On the positive side however, this recipe is but one example where Gare cross-references other recipes in the book, giving recommendations of what other dishes to pair this recipe with. It’s a very useful aside.
Zucchini Noodles with Herby Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon & Feta (page 108)
Every meal needs a side dish and this zucchini salad was an ideal complement to the Persian main meal. It’s light, simple, and tasted far more complicated that it actually was. Using zucchini strands instead of actual noodles also made it particularly healthy. It can be served hot or cold. This is one salad I highly recommend!
Mango and Passionfruit Mousse (page 176)
The combination of mango and passionfruit is scrumptious, but Greek-style yoghurt makes this dessert a bit too sour for my liking. I would have preferred custard or something sweeter than a tangy yoghurt to finish such a tasty meal. None of my dinner guests finished eating this dessert either, although, in fairness, we all had similar personal tastes, so it had nothing to do with the quality of the dish. I should point out that the picture of the dessert above is from the cookbook, not my own creation, because I didn’t have the correct serving bowls in my arsenal so my dessert looked nothing like what it was supposed to!
Final thoughts? Delicious Every Day is a great cookbook with easy to follow instructions. A word of advice though: read the recipe in full, long before you’re ready to cook it. Some dishes require early preparation (such as soaking lentils overnight) and such issues are not flagged on the page. It’s only after you start reading the recipe’s instructions that you realise. Don’t be caught out.
My copy of Delicious Every Day is weighed down with Post-It Notes so I’m diving right back into the book to try some of the many other recipes I’ve tagged. It has already become a kitchen favourite for myself and is bound to repeat its success in many other kitchens, regardless of one’s cooking experience.
If you like to try before you buy, head over to Murdoch Books’ website, where you can download two sample recipes.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8