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Gorgeous Cakes

Gorgeous Desserts

Gorgeous Greens

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Cookbook Collection:
Annie Bell

On this page:

Gorgeous Cakes

Gorgeous Desserts

Gorgeous Greens

Gorgeous Cakes

Annie Bell has got to be one of the finest food writers around, and Chris Alack one of the best photographers. This was always going to be a winning partnership.

Gorgeous Cakes Gorgeous Cakes is a stunner. Its large format allows for superb pictures which complement Annie’s lovely recipes. They are clear and easy to follow with background information and anecdotes from Annie before each one. The text is both charming and informative and gives the book an altogether comfy feel that encourages the reader to make these lovely cakes and share with family and friends.

Annie Bell has managed to introduce some surprises, some new takes on old favourites. Banoffee Cupcakes (Annie has eight delicious examples of cupcakes) sound fabulous and are so easy. These would be great to make with the kids and they could go to town with the decorations. There are so many cakes here that are “child-friendly” that will give youngsters happy memories of learning to cook.

Gin and Tonic Minis are girly and decadent. How smart would they be to present when the ladies are over for summer evening cocktails. Chocolate Sensation would be an instant success with a cup of coffee...or even without a cup of coffee, for that matter.

The recipes are not just for the girls (although the book is lovely enough to leave open on a frilly dressing table). There are plenty of things that would be appreciated by the most macho of boys. Ginger, Almond and Fig Meringue would tempt a rugby team with its sweetness and gingery bite. Cherry Crumble Cake wouldn’t go amiss with lads of the hollow-legged sort.

Gorgeous Cakes also has a number of recipes for people with health issues. There is Fig and Orange Cake with Campari Glaze, that has no fat, Sour Cherry Yogurt Cake with no eggs, and a meringue which is wheat-free. You don’t have to have health problems to enjoy these but it’s good to be able to produce smashing sweet treats for friends and family who have to watch what they eat.

I read more recipes than most people would want to shake a stick at, but my favourite, and new to me, is Orange Marzipan Cake. It’s in the Festive Baking chapter and will be the cake of choice for all those who hate the traditional Christmas fruit cake. This is moist and a much lighter alternative to a cake made with just dried fruit. The combination of orange marmalade, marzipan and rum make this a special cake for any time of year.

Annie Bell has been a chef and has written several other cookbooks, some of which I will be reviewing over the next weeks. She now writes for The Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine and contributes to Country Living. So I had expected something special, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Gorgeous Cakes
Author: Annie Bell
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-614-7

food and travel reviews Annie Bell

Gorgeous Desserts

It’s another winner from the Kyle Cathie stable! Annie Bell is without a doubt one of my favourite food writers and the photography of Chris Alack is superb. I knew I would love this one before I even turned a page.

Gorgeous Desserts Annie has a style of writing that is both humorous and engaging “...What appears to be an impossibly thin liquid at the start shapes up nicely into a luscious caramel that coats the sponge by the time the oven’s done its stuff.” The sort of writing that gives you confidence and comfort.

There are so many recipes that are updated versions of old favourite puds. It’s not often that I think that tinkering with tradition is a good idea but Annie’s recipes add so much to the original. The regular trifle will always be a great festive option but how lovely to have several versions. Modern Sherry Trifle has a mousse of mascarpone instead of custard. Cranachan Trifle draws on both Scottish and English culinary traditions and tempts me to go out and buy a trifle bowl. Italian Trifle is simple if you use shop-bought cake and makes a lovely presentation in individual glasses......but you get more in a trifle bowl!

Don’t, dear reader, ask me to pick a favourite recipe from this book. I probably have about 30....or 40! There are lots that I should mention as outstanding. Each page presents an “Ooooohhh – Aaaahhh” opportunity but Cherry Cheesecake Cake (no, that’s not a stutter, that IS the name of the pud) would be a delicious. There is a Chocolate Fondant Pudding that I would give somebody’s right arm for, and Apple Butterscotch Pie is going to be a regular chez nous.

This is one of those “must see” books. Its large format is clear and impressive. If you are looking for a dessert cookbook as a gift then my advice is to buy two of these - you will definitely want to keep one for yourself.

Gorgeous Desserts
Author: Annie Bell
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £ 14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-742-7

food and travel reviews Annie Bell

Gorgeous Greens

Cookbook reviews Gorgeous Greens Well, it sounds like an oxymoron (ok, look it up). Gorgeous Greens. It’s an expression used by my parents and many others as a term for all vegetables, just like the word greengrocer refers to a shop that sells every kind of vegetable and not just those of a greener hue. This isn’t a vegetarian cookbook but it has veggies at centre-stage rather than as a garnish to meat or fish.

Annie Bell is without a doubt one of my favourite cookbook authors. I have had the pleasure to review a couple of her other books (Gorgeous Cakes and Gorgeous Desserts), and Gorgeous Greens has not disappointed. It has the same wit, easy-to-follow recipes and gorgeous (that word again) pictures by Chris Alack who is one of the best food photographers around.

Greens, gorgeous or otherwise, have had a bad press down the ages. There was not a wide range of vegetables to tempt the palate of most northern Europeans till relatively recently. As late as the 1960s little could be found in greengrocers other than a selection of potatoes (white or red, madam?) some onions (spring or Spanish, darlin’?), cabbage (the big one at the back?) and tomatoes (salad or squashed, love?). But, thank goodness, things have changed and we all have access to an amazing array of produce, and we know that we should all eat more vegetables – five a day of fruit and veg – so let’s not allow it to become a chore.

There is nothing bland about this book. It’s vibrant in both colour and taste. There are no insipid, over-boiled crimes against vegdom here. There are fresh tastes and fresh concepts that keep one turning the pages. There are cooked and raw dishes that will encourage even the most dedicated carnivore off the meat wagon. They range from delicate dips and side dishes to hearty bakes and tarts, with sometimes just a hint of smoky bacon or a glimpse of the pink of a prawn.

There are several dips that are traditional but with a Bell twist, like Aubergine puree but with pomegranate and almond. This looks bejewelled and attractive and a bit more appetizing than the original, which although delicious looked beige and uninteresting. Crushed Goats Cheese and Anchoiade is, as the name suggests, two dips that can be served separately or together to give a real taste of the south of France.

I am a pie lover so Bubble and Squeak Pie was bound to be one of my picks. Bubble and squeak refers to the noise made by leftover potatoes and cabbage as they were fried the next day. Annie presents this in the form of a puff pastry pie. It transforms the tasty vegetables into a main meal that could become a vegetarian classic. I’d cook vegetables especially to make this dish.

Courgette, Smoky Bacon and Rosemary Clafoutis is probably my favourite recipe from this collection. This is simple to make, smart and versatile. It’s a savoury version of the French dessert made with plums or cherries. The combination of courgette and bacon is a winner but once you have mastered the batter then the world is your oyster... or perhaps onion, or maybe goat’s cheese...

Gorgeous Greens is as good as I expected it to be. The recipes are easy and Annie Bell has a style of writing that is accessible and engaging. Great value for money, and inspiring.

Cookbook review: Gorgeous Greens
Author: Annie Bell
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-839-4

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