Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Spice it up! - recipe - book review

Those of you who know me well will know I'm recovering from an operation at home at the present time. I have quite a lot of time on my hands as a result, but my mobility is restricted somewhat (no pitying glances  pleeease).  Anyway, to try to keep busy I've been reviewing some cookery books, and the kind people from Octopus Books are helping my recovery along great guns by keeping my mind somewhat occupied and last week they sent me Levi Roots latest book...called 'Spice it up' !' to review.

You may remember Levi Roots from Dragons Den when he successfully presented his Reggae Reggae Sauce to the Dragons, and managed to acquire some financial support from them? Well he's gone from strength to strength since then with his food based products sold in most major supermarkets, a string of cookery books and his own restaurant in London.

Really to do any cookery book review justice you have to cook one or even two (or more) recipes from just have to, even if it means taking on a willing assistant in the kitchen to help, enter Tom :-))!

So this week Tom and I cooked two recipes from the book (I have a third in mind  a cod, coconut and rice recipe, but I can't push it with the fish thing too far and too soon in this household) we made two dishes, Soy, Chilli and Star Anise Spiced Mackerel Fillets and Pasta with Thyme and Chilli Roasted Tomatoes. Well, when I say 'we', I perched on my perching stool in the kitchen and gave out instructions, and Tom did the physical stuff. But it really wasn't hard at all, it was quite easy and we made a great team. Here are some pictures of our efforts:

Soy, Chilli and Star Anise Spiced Mackerel Fillets
Pasta with Thyme and Chilli Roasted Tomatoes
These dishes were really good and we thoroughly enjoyed them, the pasta dish had a real kick and the mackerel was a combination of really fresh tasty and fragrant flavours that really complimented the fresh fish.

'Spice it up' is the fourth recipe book by Levi Roots (Caribbean Food Made Easy; Levi Roots Food For Friends; and Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Cookbook are the other three). This book is filled with photographs of most of the recipes and of Levi Roots himself at work, in the kitchen and at play. The recipes are not at all technically challenging, and with a few additions to your store cupboard basics you could quite easily put a good number of these dishes together and impress friends and family with tasty Caribbean style food.

The book is divided into different sections, such as fish, chicken rice, pasta, rice, vegetables, sugar, honey and chocolate, citrus fruits coffee and tea, rum. The recipes cover everything from breakfast dishes (such as Mexican Huevos Rancheros)  to cakes, desserts and alcoholic drinks (mostly rum based!).

A significant number of the recipes in this book would suit vegetarians.

There is an interesting spice glossary at the back, where Levi describes each of the main spices and its use and in some instances the relevance to his upbringing. If you are not very familiar with a range of spices this will help you.

Here are the spices used for the tomatoes for the pasta dish above.

My thanks go to Tom for his help in the kitchen and for help making some lovely meals.


  1. SPICYYYYY....but LOVELY!:) I love the way the mackerel is prepared and served...must be really appetizing;)

  2. Thank you for your comment, it was really tasty, with the combination of soy, chilli, star anise and sugar! Clean plates all round here!

  3. Ah, I didn't realise Levi Roots had a fourth cookbook out- thank you for a great review. It sounds an excellent addition to anyone's bookshelves

  4. Thanks for your comment Kate, yes there are some very tasty dishes in the new book that's for sure. Am tempted to make quite a number of them.

  5. Great review Susan and the book itself - terrific!

  6. Thanks Margot yes it is a lovely book, have loaned my copy out for a while...I miss it!

  7. Interesting cookbook. I've only vaguely ever heard of the author but am always on the look out for Caribbean cookbooks to add to my collection


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x