Pros: Nice photographs of every recipe, Nutrient information, Recipe chooser section
Cons: Picky Eaters section is a page of advice, salt in nutrient information is listed in grams not mg of sodium
I was excited to get DK’s newest cookbook Family Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton. Like all the DK cookbooks, it is bursting with vivid food photographs that are sure to catch your attention. Bretherton herself has been in the food industry for over 20 years and raised a family along the way. She took her personal experience and shaped it into what she calls her Family Cookbook. Bretherton really took some time to compile the recipes for this family cookbook as it truly does apply to all the stages of your family. If you have babies that you are just introducing solid foods to, then you will be pleased with the variety of puree recipes included in this tome. There are all sorts of purees from baby rice to sweet potato and broccoli puree. I wish I had this when my children were babies. The book itself is easy to navigate through its six chapters, starting with Babies and toddlers and working through family meals, easy entertaining, food to go, baking and finally, cooking with kids.
Nutrient information for every recipe is provided, along with easy to follow directions. I really enjoy it when a cookbook adds nutrient information. Even though it will change based on the exact ingredients you choose to use, it is great to get a good idea of what the nutrition content is. The only odd thing is that Bretherton chose to list salt in grams vs sodium in mg. Please keep that in mind if you are on a low sodium diet. You will need to convert the grams in salt to mg of sodium. Throughout the cookbook she also has features on picky babies and toddlers, smart shopping, batching and freezing, meals for a week, vegetarian kids, after school, the hardworking fridge, coping with allergies, unexpected guests, smart with leftovers, kids’ parties and picky kids and teenagers. These features, while short, offer some great advice in an easy to read format.
Fussy eaters can be a challenge in every home. One of the things I looked forward to was her section on fussy eaters. In all fairness, I was wondering how anyone could have a section on fussy eaters since almost everyone I have met – and I have met a good share of them – are all fussy about different things. I found that I was a bit disappointed to find that while the front cover boasts “fussy eaters,” she merely has a couple of pages that talks about fussy eaters and some suggestions. However she does present you with suggestions to help you solve the dilemma of what to feed a fussy eater. She also points out that adults have dislikes as well, and emphasizes not forcing children to eat foods they dislike.
I have tried several of the recipes in the Family Cookbook and read all of them. Every one of the recipes I tried turned out and was easy to execute. I am starting to think my family really loves potatoes because the recipe they loved the best from Family Cookbook was the cheesy potato bake on page 246. I can’t blame them; I also thought it was fantastic. Potatoes blanketed with velvety cheese sauce and baked until the top is bubbly and slightly browned is very alluring. I made this recipe a second time, gluten free, substituting the all-purpose flour with equal parts tapioca flour and it was phenomenal. The nice thing about this family friendly cookbook is you should be able to find all the ingredients at your local grocery store.
As you can see this cookbook is going to apply to all stages of your family life. From babies to adults you will find recipes that are sure to please. Don’t worry about spilling a bit of puree on your pages. They are nice and sturdy and will withstand an occasional splashing. Instead of having a separate cookbook for the different stages your family is going through, you can now have one easy reference. But then, I believe that one can never have enough cookbooks. However, if you are thinking of a gift for a family then this is a good choice. This book is written so that even the beginning cook can replicate these recipes. I hope you enjoy the recipe I have chosen to share.
Cheesy Potato Bake
The ultimate in comfort food and a great recipe for cold days. It is equally good on its own, or as a rich side dish.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes plus resting time
Vegetarian and freezable
8” (20cm) deep-sided, ovenproof dish
1 ¾ lb (800g) waxy or yellow potatoes, such as large Yukon Golds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
4 ½ oz (125g) grated sharp cheese, such as cheddar
Green salad, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Peel and slice the potatoes into – ¼in (3-5mm) slices. Put them in a large pan of boiling salted water and return to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes until the slices are tender, but not breaking up. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the flour over low heat. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and separates.
3. Take the pan off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, whisking well between each addition, until it has all been added and the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Continue to cook, stirring now and then, for 5 minutes. Be sure to whisk right into the edges of the saucepan as this is where the sauce can burn if left undisturbed.
4. Add 1 ¾ oz (50g) of cheese, season well, and cook for another 2 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, thick, and creamy.
5. Rub the inside of n 8in (20cm) deep-sided, ovenproof dish with the butter. Layer one-third of the potato slices in the dish, then top with one-third of the sauce and one-third (scant 1oz/25g) of the remaining grated cheese. Repeat twice more, seasoning as you go. When you get the last layer of potatoes, arrange the slices so that the dish will look attractive after it has been baked.
6. Put the dish on a large baking sheet and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft when pierced with the tip of a knife and the top is golden brown and bubbling. Rest for 5 minutes before serving with a green salad.
*Please note the author does not know how much salt you are going to use in your dish as you season each layer. The salt grams listed here are based on the ingredients listed. Plus if you are watching your sodium intake you will need to convert the grams of salt to mg of sodium.