Friday 29 April 2016

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th April 2016 - "The Forest Feast for Kids" by Erin Gleeson (Abrams Books)

Our first Book of the Week this week is a bit of a departure for us!
It's an absolute pleasure to review something distinctly different from our usual fare. We don't get a lot of cookbooks for kids (Why, WHYYYYY!! We love to cook! C'mon publishers bring 'em on!) and we certainly don't see many that are as tantalisingly tasty and as beautifully produced as this.

Foodie, artist and super-blogger Erin Gleeson has turned her artistic talents to a new collection of very simple recipes guaranteed to win over even the fussiest mini food critic.

"The Forest Feast for Kids - Colourful Vegetarian Recipes that are Simple to Make" is a cornucopia of brilliant little food ideas that tick all of our boxes. We're a family of vegetarians (though Charlotte eats meat when she visits her grandparents) so we're always on the lookout for food to extend our (admittedly rather boring) repertoire.

Erin's book opens a bit like an art tutorial book, by showing you the tools of the trade when it comes to food preparation, the skills you can adopt to make you more adept at chopping, slicing and prepping your ingredients and also simple terms to help you understand the main methods of cooking or presenting your food (it's obviously US-centric, this is a US publication after all but folk on this side of the pond won't have any difficulty translating some of the methods here).

They say the first bite of any dish is with the eye, and that's certainly the case with this book (in fact it's almost impossible not to drool like a basset hound just thinking of the contents of this lovely book!)

Starting off with minimum-preparation dishes like salads, fruit dishes and smoothies, the book moves on to more advanced fare later on.

Designed with kids in mind (and dutifully road-tested by Erin's willing and hungry little helpers including her diddy little baby Ezra) the recipes use fresh or pre-prepared ingredients so that the emphasis is on making something gorgeous to look at, tasty and nutritious as well as fun to put together.

We were won over by some of the ideas in here, for example the simple Butternut Squash and Cheese Pizza (which does away with the acidity of tomato pizza base in favour of milder and equally tasty Butternut Squash - a family fave already).

Charlotte was also won over by extensive use of one of her favourite ingredients - Peanut butter. The Peanut Butter, Date and Coconut balls were absolutely delicious and we made a small batch coated with our favourite munchy seeds, a really great example of the book's core philosophy of easy (often no-cook) recipes that look brilliant and taste fantastic.

Many foodies might scoff at the suggestion of using pre-prepared dough or batter, or skipping some of the steps that adept cooks might adopt, but if you've ever tried cooking with your little ones or even preparing food, you'll know how important a bit of pre-staging and preparation can be. Unless you're utterly amazing at making pastry or pizza dough, there's definitely no shame in buying the supermarket stuff to save yourself a lot of time and effort, particularly if you're a working parent who literally has about 15 mins to get something sorted out for tea on busy weekday nights.

We tried quite a few of the other recipes (with triumphs and disasters in equal measure - we really wanted to get the Bay Potatoes right but they were virtually raw when we pulled them out of the oven so we'd probably adapt that recipe slightly to gently par-boil the potatoes and sweet potatoes for a couple of minutes before sticking them in the hot oven next time).

We were truly impressed by this book (and also truly envious of Erin's gorgeous looking log cabin home, and indeed her lifestyle!)

Charlotte's favourite recipe: Peanut Butter, Date and Coconut balls (Deee-LISH!)

Daddy's favourite recipe: Avocado, Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie (YUM!)

(Kindly sent to us for review by Abrams Books)

"The Forest Feast for Kids"

Written and Illustrated by Erin Gleeson

Published by Abrams Books

Publication Date: 16th February 2016