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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

The Classic Casseroles for your Slow Cooker

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys

Quick and Easy – Eating for One

Quick and Easy 20-minute Meals

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking


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Cookbook Collection:
Catherine Atkinson

On this page:

The Classic Casseroles for your Slow Cooker

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys

Quick and Easy – Eating for One

Quick and Easy 20-minute Meals

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking


The Classic Casseroles for your Slow Cooker

cookbook review slow cooker casseroles I am an enthusiastic cook and have a cupboard full of labour-saving devices but there is one, and it is by far the oldest, to which I return time after time. It’s my brown ceramic slow cooker. It’s one of the originals from the 1970s without even the luxury of a removable insert. These days you’ll find pots good enough to grace your table... and the inside of the dishwasher.

A slow cooker is the epitome of contemporary chic. You would have heard of the Slow Food Movement. It started in Italy and has spread to every corner of the globe, and has been embraced by people who prize good food with old-fashioned qualities of taste and texture. My ancient slow cooker, although not a thing of beauty, has helped me to enjoy the best of foods without spending endless time in the kitchen. The food is slow cooked and the cook relaxed.

Catherine Atkinson never puts a foot wrong. She has penned many a sensible cookbook with solid recipes and practical advice. The Classic Casseroles for your Slow Cooker does not disappoint. OK, so it’s not a tome filled with colour shots of misty landscapes and rustic peasants, but we have casseroles as our focus and we all know what they look like. It’s about unfussy dishes, good ingredients and meals to tempt both family and friends.

This is a book to cater for both carnivore and vegetarian, with a good number of fish recipes included. There are 100 or so dishes to choose from to suit every occasion and every budget. The appliance uses very little energy and often makes use of cheaper cuts of meat. You can save a bit of cash and feel you are saving the planet at the same time.

Bean Chilli with Cornbread is a one-pot meal. The cornbread is in fact a topping for the casserole. This makes for an interesting presentation of this flavourful dish and reduces washing up. The beans cook for 7 hours or so but remember that you don’t have to stay with the food while it cooks. The slow cooker will cook your dinner to melting perfection while you are gardening, ironing or taking samba lessons.

If you need a slow meal in a hurry then Hot Southern Chicken is for you. It only takes 2 hours of unaided simmering to produce a dish which is a meal in itself. Chicken, rice, corn and okra make this a tasty American-themed dish that is both stylish and economical.

The Classic Casseroles for your Slow Cooker offers smart recipes using game, and everyday fare using seasonal vegetables. Good taste and ease of preparation are the common threads. If you don’t have a slow cooker now then you might well be persuaded to buy one. Just a read of the recipes here and the realisation that slow cooking is quick will have you heading to the kitchen section of your nearest department store. This book is full of ideas and inspiration, and is amazing value for money.

Cookbook review: The Classic Casseroles for your Slow Cooker
Author: Catherine Atkinson
Published by Foulsham
Price: £8.99
ISBN 978-0-572-03541-9


food and travel reviews Catherine Atkinson

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys This is the sort of book I want to snuggle down with on a cold winter evening. Pictures of tasty and tangy condiments remind us that there will soon be a season of mist and mellow fruitfulness (sounds familiar so I guess someone has said that before... probably Keats!). There is nothing like your own preserves to go with cold meats and cheese and it’s not as difficult as you might imagine.

Catherine Atkinson is a full-time writer and food-consultant. She has worked on such magazines as Woman’s Weekly and Me Magazine. I have already reviewed several of her books and I know that we are in safe hands.

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys is the style of cookbook that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Catherine is convinced that you’ll want to make these pickles and provides you with plenty of photographs to tempt you, and step-by-step photographs to steer you through the various techniques to enable you to achieve success every time. This isn’t rocket science. We have been making bejewelled jars of fruit and vegetables for centuries with far less equipment than you’ll have to hand.

There are over 70 recipes here so there will be something to suit everyone. There are lots of old favourites like Piccalilli and Green Tomato Chutney (you’ll make kilos of that if you live in the UK where we have summers the length of a long weekend) but there are plenty of exotic alternatives that I am sure your Granny never made.

Italian Mustard Fruit Pickles will transport you back to evenings sitting under vines in Tuscany, Hot Thai Pickled Shallots would be a lovely addition to an Asian buffet, and Cranberry and Red Onion Relish would be just right with the Christmas left-overs. Fiery Bengal Chutney is probably not for the faint-hearted although there are other Indian chutneys a little less breath-taking.

Catherine’s chapter on Sauces and Mustards is interesting and offers amongst others Tangy Tomato Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce, Roasted Red Pepper and Chilli Ketchup. The mustards are worth exploring, with Tarragon and Champagne Mustard, Clove-spiced Mustard, and Horseradish Mustard that would be marvellous with roast beef.

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys allows even a novice bottler to make shelves of bright goods to be enjoyed throughout the year. Catherine Atkinson has penned another practical guide to tasty pleasure.

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys
Author: Catherine Atkinson
Published by: Apple Press
Price: £8.99
ISBN 978-1-84543-284-3

food and travel reviews Catherine Atkinson

Quick and Easy – Eating for One

Quick and Easy – Eating for One This well-illustrated book is a must for anyone who is just about to leave home (and mum’s cooking) and start a life alone, or anyone who now finds themselves cooking for one. It’s a cookbook full of, as it says, quick and easy recipes but on closer inspection it’s rather more than that, it’s the “desert island” cookbook, the one any sole survivor would take if they wanted to eat well on their own (with the use of a good supermarket!) but also, using the same book, be able to make a lovely meal for the band of rescuers.    Turkey Skewers

The author, Catherine Atkinson, has chosen easy, healthy but also quite exotic recipes. She has sections on sweets, snacks, meats, fish and vegetables. Yes, as you would expect, there are several pastas but not your “it’s Wednesday night so its spag bol night” but Linguine with Chicken and Asparagus or Oriental Prawn, Pepper and Pineapple Noodles. These probably take less time than your usual mid-week pasta, they are a lot healthier and they would make excellent meals when you have company.

All the recipes could easily be increased and this is very encouraging for a novice cook. You can practise these dishes when you have just yourself to feed, become more confident and then produce volumes appropriate for entertaining when mum comes over to see how much weight you’ve lost. She will be impressed!

Catherine has included a Planning Ahead section with menus for a month. Each day has a recipe as well as shopping lists for both fresh and larder ingredients, so there will be no need to resort to baked beans from the tin.

The Vegetables and Vegetarian section has some lovely Mediterranean recipes like Feta and Pine Nut Stuffed Peppers. The Spiced Coconut Rice with Cashew Nuts only takes 20 minutes and makes enough for two, so invite a friend. The Fish section offers, amongst other dishes, Lime and Ginger Salmon with Fruit Salsa steamed in a foil parcel which would be great for a smart dinner party.

These are not reworks of the usual “cooking for one” recipes but interesting dishes that just happen to be portioned for the single diner. They are truly simple recipes that would convert any take-away enthusiast but would be equally useful for anyone new to the single life.

Quick and Easy – Eating for One
Author: Catherine Atkinson
Price: £7.99
Published by Foulsham
ISBN 978-0-572-03420-7

food and travel reviews Catherine Atkinson

Quick and Easy 20-minute Meals

This book presents the acceptable face of fast food. The Quick and Easy series of cookbooks are always good value and Quick and Easy 20-minute Meals is another gem. These books spend more time in the kitchen than they do on your smart bookshelf.

Easy 20 minute meals We would all love the luxury of unlimited time to devote to food preparation but that’s not the real world. Your 6 year old needs a quick meal before you take him for after-school Latin, your 9 year old only has an hour at home before he needs to be at ballet class. You want to feed the family good food but fast.

This, dear reader, isn’t rocket science but Catherine Atkinson offers good advice (she does with all her books) to enable you to save time but present delicious and healthy meals. There is information about setting up a storecupboard with the basics, storage and freezing, and planning ahead. A few pages of reading and you’ll be ready to start cooking.

Cutting back on preparation time doesn’t mean cutting down on taste, comfort or quality of meals. There are lovely recipes here that compromise nothing for the sake of speed. You’ll find chapters on snacks and light meals, meats, fish, and vegetarian. Something for everyone.

Fish Fingers and Beans doesn’t sound like it should have a place in a cookbook. Take the time to read the recipe and you’ll find that this is quite a classy meal with cannellini beans, olives, sweet chilli sauce and pitta bread. Spicy Seafood Pasta is a posh alternative to fish fingers, and you’ll be eating in only 15 minutes.

The vegetarian section offers Mixed Vegetable Stir-fry with Teriyaki Tofu. It’s exotic with rich flavours but still only takes 20 minutes to make a meal for four. Staying with the oriental theme, Hoisin Pork Skewers would make a spectacular presentation for either a fast meal or as a starter.

Dessert is often forgotten when you are pressed for time. Fresh fruit or yoghurt always seems such a cheat so how about Hot Chocolate Pots or Pear and Cinnamon Tarts? How impressed will your friends be when you apologise for ONLY preparing Mango and Lime Syllabub!

Quick and Easy 20-minute Meals is a well-written and useful cookbook. The only thing you will dislike is that you will no longer have lack of time as an excuse for not cooking. The guy at the local take-away will think you have moved.

Quick and Easy 20-minute Meals
Author: Catherine Atkinson
Published by: Foulsham
Price: £7.99
ISBN 978-0-572-03486-3

food and travel reviews Catherine Atkinson

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking It should be no surprise that I am here again with another Catherine Atkinson cookbook. Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking follows the same format as all the Quick and Easy series. Slim volumes but full of delicious recipes, mouth-watering photography and, most important, the information is always accurate and understandable.

It’s probably true to say that there are quite a few Low-Fat cookery books around but the recipes here have the advantage of speed without sacrificing taste. Catherine has selected dishes that trick you into thinking that these are not light foods at all. The combinations of ingredients, spices and textures will allow you to make healthy choices and you’ll enjoy doing it.

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking isn’t exactly a “diet” book but rather a “change your eating habits because you need to shed some weight and live a healthy life” book. Have a flick through the pages and you’ll see that making some simple adjustments will make a big difference.

Take the time to read the few short chapters before the recipes. These give key advice on eating well and cutting down on fat. There is a Weekly Meal Planner which will help you through the first four weeks and Catherine has even provided shopping lists so there will be no excuse to resort to the chippie or take-away half way through week two!

It’s not necessary to be overweight to use and enjoy this book. The food is just tasty. Moroccan Chicken is seasoned with coriander, cumin and cinnamon with a tang of fresh ginger. It’s the spice here that gives the impression of richness that is often provided by oil. Catherine suggests green beans with this and I reckon that would be smart enough for a dinner party. This dish is ready in less than 40 minutes and it is simple.

There are plenty of vegetarian dishes on offer. Many vegetarians say that too often they resort to cheese as the main meal ingredient. Open Lasagne is stuffed with fresh vegetables and has the stylish contemporary look of a real cheffy dish. The recipe uses only 25g (1oz) of grated Parmesan to garnish.

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking will be welcomed by anyone who either wants or needs to consider a lower-fat diet. Remember that there are more things to eat than to avoid. Catherine Atkinson has provided a tool to make a positive and painless life change. Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Low-Fat Cooking
Author: Catherine Atkinson
Published by: Foulsham
Price: £7.99
ISBN 978-0-572-03455-9


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