200 Meals for Two by Louise Blaire – review

There are shelves and shelves of amazing cookbooks. All of them have qualities, be they a particular ethnic cuisine, a particular style of cooking, vegetarian, fish-focused or even desserts, but for the most part they are targeting those who want to cook for a family of four.

200 Meals for Two There are more of us than ever who live as couples. Those who are setting up home for the first time, others who are sharing a flat with a friend, single parent with an adolescent, or those who have been used to cooking for a house-full but now find themselves alone apart from visits from children who need to use the washing machine.

Some recipes are easy to down-size. Many recipes will provide you with leftovers for another meal the next day, but that isn’t always what we crave. We don’t want to be forever scribbling in the margins of our cookbooks, calculating the new volume of milk and weight of flour. It’s so much easier with a cookbook designed for just two people.

200 Meals for Two by Hamlyn is one of their All Colour Cookbooks, which are unbeatable value as well as being practical and inspiring. This particular volume offers an eclectic and exciting selection of recipes which reflect how we eat these days: healthy, varied food with a few treats. If you’re cooking for two then a book designed with you in mind seems like a good idea, but the food must encourage you into the kitchen and this book will do just that.

The format for 200 Meals for Two is a popular one, with me at least. It has the aforementioned 200 recipes but each recipe has its corresponding full colour photograph. That is a support for the virgin cook but it’s also stimulating when one is flicking through cookbooks wondering what to cook. The glimpse of a corner of a quiche can focus the mind in seconds.

This is food preparation at its most sensible. For instance Open Chicken and Spinach Ravioli might sound a bit labour-intensive but it’s a simple and quick dish to prepare. We think of ravioli as small stuffed pasta parcels. The version here is more like an assembled lasagne, with the pasta sheets being layered with the chicken and vegetable filling. Preparation time is 5 minutes and cooking time is only 10 minutes.

OK, so the ravioli is from the Quick Suppers chapter but the Special Occasion section offers equally quick and easy meals. Moroccan Lamb with Couscous is stylish and truly worthy of a romantic evening just for two. For best results you’ll need to marinade the meat in spices for an hour or so but you don’t have to stay and watch the process. The preparation time is only ten minutes and cooking time only five minutes.

My favourite recipe from this volume is that for Baby Leek and Serrano Ham Gratin. 10 minutes preparation and 20 minutes cooking for a tasty supper can’t be bad. There is an alternative of Broccoli Gratin but the leek version has my vote. One could use adult leeks but you would need to cut them in half along the length before steaming, or allow extra cooking time. Just a green salad and a bottle of red and that’s Saturday night’s dinner sorted.

200 Meals for Two is a delightful book with recipes that are economic, delicious and quick to prepare. Very few of these recipes take more than 15 minutes to make, and the majority less time than that. At a meagre £4.99 it’s got to be one of the best value cookbooks around. A great gift for any couple who want to eat well but yet don’t want to live in the kitchen.

200 Meals for Two
Author: Louise Blaire
Published by Hamlyn – Octopus
Price: £4.99
ISBN: 978-0-600-61931-4


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018