Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Trinity of Tana

Okay, here are the Tana books I rave about. Yes, the bottom two had dust jackets but, as I have a peculiar disdain for them (the jackets, not the books), they have long since been lost.

I have mad love for these books. I came across them whilst doing a search for Gordon on Amazon UK. I got the yellow one first (Real Family Food) simply because it was cheaper than her first one. When you're paying full shipping and factoring in the exchange rate to the US it makes a difference. I fell in love with this immediately, and the first recipe I made was the one for Oat and Blueberry Muffins. They lasted two days. I've made dozens more since then. I love these muffins. I love these muffins. I freakin' love these muffins. I moved on to the Chicken and Mango Salad (excellent for summer lunches), Honey and Mustard Sticky Chicken, Rhubarb Jam (from the recipe for Rhubarb Tarts), Bang Bang Chicken, Butter Chicken (which turned out to be plate-licking delicious), Black Bean Chili, and Apricot Walnut bread. What I like about the book is that each section has a listing of recipes so you don't have to search through the index. Yes, there are family pictures throughout but there are enough photos of the finished recipe that you don't feel too deprived.

Next I got Family Kitchen. While I haven't made nearly as many recipes, again it's a solid book with lots of food photos and a really nice layout. I got this in paperback, which I prefer for cookbooks anyway, but it's very sturdy and holds up well to being knocked off a counter or getting food splotched on it. I made the Homemade Baked Beans (I love that it's in the Breakfast section!), Chocolate Chip Cookies (I'm a sucker for a new choc chip cookie recipe), Plaice with Chunky Chips and Pea Puree (I used haddock because it was on sale), and a wonderful Minestrone that I made yet again this week. There are several unusual recipes I want to get to, such as Red Pepper and Apple Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Sauce, which I think might appeal to the chittlins, and Moroccan Chicken with Couscous. It freaks me out a bit when I see cinnamon in a savory recipe so I always go slowly and start with just a tiny bit, but the rest of this recipe sounds damn yummy so I just need to get over myself and make it.

Lastly is Home Made, with a gorgeous new cover. This one follows a bit of a different format, with sections specific to the main ingredient or meal: Soups, Chicken & Duck, Vegetables, Pizza & Pasta. I must admit that I've made only the Green Minestrone; however, it's no fault of the book's; rather, I've been perusing other volumes and trying new things from those. This, too, has a listing of recipes in front of each section, making life easy, and photos of nearly all the finished dishes.

What I like so much about these cookbooks is that I think they are ideal for beginning cooks who don't want the same old rehashed roast chicken or pasta recipe. The ingredients should be easy to find in any large supermarket and preparation for each dish is minimal. I've been cooking for a very long time and, while I don't need a primer or how-to for basic meals, I like reading a new recipe and saying "Ner, why didn't I think of that?" This is what these books do for me; when I don't want to think yet want something easy, interesting, and on the table with minimal fuss, I know that I can find something in any of these that will fit the bill. However, if you are at all interested in buying British cookbooks, invest in a very good kitchen scale (I recommend the Escali digital). It makes measuring a hell of lot easier than whipping out a calculator and doing the conversions yourself. Tana does provide translated measurements for ingredients but a scale is a very good investment for those times when you don't have the luxury of an author/editor doing the work for you.
Next, I need to make something out of the eggplant that is languishing in my veg bin.


Kee Kee said...

Butter Chicken??? Oh My GOD that sounds GOOD!!!!

Bridget said...

I am intrigued by the idea of Green Minestrone ...