Reviewed by Eve McCormack
Anna Gare’s personality shines through in this book – friendly, relaxed and with a fun sense of humour. She understands that the everyday cook has a lot of other things to juggle besides providing themselves and their families with nourishing, healthy, easy to prepare meals. Indeed, the cover sums up her philosophy ‘Mostly Healthy, Always Tasty’.
An added bonus is that most of the 100+ recipes are gluten free, which will help remove the stress for a lot of cooks looking for dishes that will cater to the myriad of folk who prefer gluten free food these days. No mention is made if the recipes are suitable for those with diagnosed Coeliac disease, but perhaps the recipes could be adapted further if required.
It is a hefty book of some 215 pages. This makes it difficult to leave open on the kitchen bench, maybe a book stand would help. The recipes are divided into eleven categories, covering Breakfast, Soups, Salads, Easy to prepare and One-pot meals, Meals for Entertaining and Dessert.
Most of the recipes are shown in easy-to-read type with a full page photograph opposite the recipe page. Ingredients are within the reach of anyone with access to a supermarket, although a visit to the health food store and/or Asian supermarket will help with things like glutinous rice flour, Vietnamese mint leaves. No special kitchen gadgetry is required, although it is suggested a vegetable spiraler would be useful to make zucchini noodles.
Each recipe is prefaced by a short descriptive paragraph. How could one overlook a salad (Pomegranate Chicken with Fennel, Feta and Watermelon) with the introduction ‘..when put together, these ingredients sing and dance and carry on…..’
Of particular appeal are the ‘simple to prepare’ and ‘one-pot’ meals. The Chicken Provencale is a modern take on a very traditional recipe and did indeed, as described, use just one pot and fill the house with a wonderful aroma.
Having tried on several occasions to make bread without success, I was intrigued by the recipe for ‘the Lazy Lady’s Loaf’ – mix the ingredients, put in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next day – the result is a nice, crusty, ciabatta-type loaf which cut well and had good flavour. This is a definite winner.
In the ‘Salads as Main Attraction’ section, are many enticing salads to try. The King Prawn Cocktail Salad, is a great update to a perennial favourite and would be a great entry on the Christmas Lunch menu.
Whilst taking many favourites and giving them a modern, up to date feel with the addition of spicy flavours and textures, Anna Gare also introduces dishes which are appealing and appetising, as well as being good for you. The Banana, Almond and Date Loaf is a dense, moist, flavourful cake which is wheat, dairy and sugar free. I substituted the coconut oil with extra virgin olive oil with no apparent change to the finished product.
Two sections on dessert are included (sweet and nice – see the Mango and Almond Coconut cake); this section is virtually sugar free and shows that even jelly can be made to be flavourful and appealing. The second section is sweet and naughty – see the Mexican Spiced Chocolate cake or a new twist on the Caramel Custard).
This cookbook is a compilation of recipes devised and adapted by Anna Gare over the years she has spent in the industry, running a catering business, on television, at food festivals. Many are updates of family favourites, where she shows that the addition of currently trendy ingredients and spices can lift a dish to new heights.
For people keen on cooking, there are myriad cook books available, from those published by professional chefs all the way through to recent publications by contestants of ‘reality TV cooking shows’ of all description. Supermarkets and newsagents also have on display many cooking magazines. Indeed, a recent catalogue for a well-known book store had no less than 19 cookbooks to choose from as ideas for Christmas gifts. So how does one decide which to choose from such a smorgasbord? Delicious Every Day leans towards the less complicated style of cooking using familiar ingredients, spices that are in the realm of most cooks knowledge (if not already in their pantry) and using simple cooking methods.
Delicious Every Day would appeal to competent cooks who are looking for interesting dishes to serve to family members in the knowledge that what they are eating is fresh, healthy and tasty.
216pp paperback AU$39.99