Monday, 16 April 2012

'Food you can't say no to' - book review - recipe

Tamasin Day Lewis is a prolific food writer and cook. I can remember watching her on TV, some years ago now (long before food channels and the like...yes readers, I pre-date food channels!) cooking on some New World (it was anything but new world!) rickety old gas stove and thinking, 'how ever does she make such fabulous food on an old cooker like that'? Tamasin went on to have the most marvellous new kitchen, and a new stove (and Aga too I think?) to go with it but I always remember her cooking on that old gas stove. I was mesmerised by her ability to create such feasts from it; anyway, fast forward a few years on and Tamasin has a new recipe book out currently called 'Food you can't say no to'.

Read on for my review and a lovely recipe from the book at the end of this post...
There are just five chapters in this book but they pack a lot of recipes in each one. They are entitled, 'simple special things' (such as savoury biscuits, bread rolls, salads, sides and dips, the extra's in other words ), 'beginnings' (starters, soups finger foods and the like) 'the big dish' (main courses with everything from chowders to special salads) 'sweet things' (baking, cakes, ice creams and puddings you would die for) and 'feasts' (this is a whole chapter devoted to truly special meals and the full menus are included - the new years eve indian inspired feast is a truly fabulous meal, you could cook the whole menu or just pick out recipes on their own).

Not every recipe is accompanied by a photograph, the steamed orange sponge with seville orange marmalade pudding I made (see recipe below) was one that was not. But the recipe descriptions are easy to follow and there is lots of additional information about foods and ingredients used in the recipes, this is interspersed amongst the recipes themselves. The photography that is in this book is really good and very appealing.

There are quire a few vegetarian meals and side dishes that would suit those that do not eat meat and fish. Some of the savoury baked recipes have a big appeal, the roquefort and walnut pie with a pepper and parmesan crust looks very good, as does the gnocchi and the pasta recipes, definitely on my list of things to try from this book.
The 'sweet things' chapter is my absolute favourite as I love to bake so much, and some of the recipes in here are so very enticing, such as the pear and blueberry tatin, lemon and coconut cream tart, Miranda's luscious lemon cake, chocolate fig and walnut log, and the ultimate 'killer black and white chocolate and raspberry cake'...when you see the photographs of this one you will know why its called 'killer'.

The publishers of 'Food you can't say no to' are Quadrille Publishing and they have allowed me to share one of the recipes from this new book. Although it might be Spring on the calendar its been like winter here in Lancashire the last few days. Cold, wind rain, we've had the lot! With weather like this what I crave is a steamed sponge pudding, I love this type of pudding and nothing really beats it (forget microwave versions of, they just don't match the flavour of properly steamed). As I made some of my own seville orange marmalade this year I chose a steamed orange sponge with seville orange marmalade pudding recipe; I adapted it a bit to suit what I had in store at home. The result was a light, fluffy, spicy, citrus pudding with a bit of heat from the ginger, and I can testify it was just as nice eaten cold as it was warm.
120g margarine
120 g golden caster sugar
2 free range eggs
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp all spice
Grated zest of one lemon
2 tsp orange flower water
1- 2 tbsp milk
About half a jar of marmalade (seville and homemade is best)
1. Start by greasing a pudding basin, mine was a big one thats why my pudding looks quite dumpy in the photos.
2. Cream the margarine and caster sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy then add the beaten eggs. Once mixed in sieve the flour, baking powder and spices over the mix and fold in carefully with a spoon. As you mix add the lemon zest, and milk until you get a dropping consistency.
3. Put the marmalade in the bottom of the pudding basin. My marmalade was quite thick, stick to your ribs stuff. Carefully spoon over the batter mix and level the top.
4. Cover the pudding basin with pleated greaseproof paper and pleated foil, tie this round the neck of the basin with string and make a handle to lift the basin with.
5. Put the basin into a saucepan and fill the pan with water to about 2/3rds up the outside of the pudding bowl. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer and steam for 2 hours.
6. Once the pudding is cooked, run a knife around the inside of the pudding in the basin and invert onto a plate. Serve with whatever you choose, cream, ice cream or custard.

'Food you can't say no to' is not a book I would reach for to cook from everyday, as this is what I would think of as 'special' food. For some of the recipes you would have to source some of the ingredients well in advance, for others any cooks store cupboard supplies will do nicely, as with this pudding recipe.  This is a book I would cook from if I wanted something different, something to impress family or friends or if I was making a meal that I wanted to be 'exceptional' or something we hadn't tried before. This is the type of food I would love to come home from work to, (in my dreams of course) its different, its complex, its packed with a myriad of flavours and even some traditional recipes we may be familiar with are given a new twist.


  1. Perhaps you should submit your steamed pudding photo for publishing in the looks perfect! It sounds like an interesting book I may have to take a look! :-)

  2. Great review and great looking pudding! This book sounds really good!

  3. No wonder that pudding looks good, apart from your obvious skills! Tamasin Day Lewis is one of my all time favourite cooks too. I used to watch those programme where she fed her children and rummaged about her lovely untidy garden for herbs. I always felt she put love at the heart of her cooking. I own several of her books with "Supper for a Song" being my fave, will look out for this one as I'm sure it will contain even more fabulous recipes.

  4. Oh oh Susan I want that book and I want some of your pudding - mmmmmmmmmmm!! When are you going to make that killer chocolate cake I'm now wondering?


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