I have something to confess – I once had a cookbook addiction. When we lived in Yorkshire I used to love cooking and baking and therefore I collected cookbooks like Imelda Marcos collects shoes. At one stage my entire utility room was overrun by cookbooks, as was my bedside table. I probably had close to 30 cookbooks Alas, we moved to Jersey and I was under strict instructions to streamline my cookery book collection and as a result most of them were banished. I probably now have about 10 that I regularly use. I have a mixture of healthy cookbooks, indulgent treats and thrifty cooking. Those cookery books are serving me well but then I came across Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat cookbook and I knew that I had to have it. Mr C might have rolled his eyes and he might have admonished me for buying a cookbook when we are trying to save money but I soon had him eating his words (see what I did there 😉 ).
Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat: Review
Elly Pear first came to my attention when I saw her on Sunday Brunch. She was being interviewed about her latest cookbook “Let’s Eat” and explaining the principles behind it – one of them being batch cooking. Now this is what sold the cookbook to me! The idea being that you spend a bit of time at the weekend doing some advance preparation so that you have a multitude of healthy and quick and easy to cook meals for the week. This doesn’t mean that you will be eating the same meal every night. No, the genius is that Elly shows how you can make small tweaks to your base recipe that you have batch cooked so that you come up with completely different yummy meals with minimal effort. She runs a cafe so you can trust that she doesn’t like waste and that she will help you make your meals go far. The food is simple but delicious tasting and the recipes are easy to follow. There are different sections to her cookbook but the first part I focussed on was her “Freeze for Ease” section.
Mushroom, lentil and walnut ragu
The first week I decided that I was going to give her mushroom, lentil and walnut ragu recipe a go. I had to top my store cupboard up with some spices and buy some freezer bags but my weekly shop was no more expensive in spite of this. On Saturday afternoon I spent a couple of hours making the ragu. It was an easy to follow recipe and very easy to make. This one recipe made 12 portions. I did store it in freezer bags but I found that this meant that the bags stuck together so I would use containers next time. I made the ragu, left it to cool and then filled my freezer ready for the week.
Rigatoni, feta and basil
Now all of Elly’s recipes are vegetarian. You can add meat but I chose not to. This was going to be a big ask of Mr C and I was nervous about he would respond. I was also worried that he wouldn’t like the ragu because he doesn’t like nuts. With everyone being back at work I wanted a dish that was going to be quick and easy to make in the evening. I got 3 portions of the ragu out in the morning so that it would defrost and by the evening it was ready to cook. The whole meal took me no longer than 20 mins to make.
Verdict: Everyone loved it. No one asked where the meat was! Win!
Chilli with wedges, soured cream and cheese
The next night I used the base to make chilli. Again, very easy to do. To the actual base recipe you add some spices, tomato puree, kidney beans barbecue sauce and some water. The whole meal took 30 mins to cook. As it cooked I was able to sit down with the girls as they did their homework
Verdict: Everyone loved it again. No mention of meat again!
Veggie shepherd’s pie with a sweet potato, miso and smoked garlic mash
I was a bit nervous about this one and whether everyone would like it. It was easy to make. First you need to cook the sweet potato. Mash together and put on top of your ragu mixture and bake in the oven for 35 mins.
Verdict: Everyone loved it but it was the least favourite of the girls. I was worried that the sweet potato would be too sweet but the miso really helped balance it and it was delicious.
As the first week had been so successful, I spent the following weekend batch cooking three different bases. Despite me doing a lot of cooking it only took a couple of hours.
Tuscan-style cannellini bean stew
Super easy to make. This makes 8 portions. We used two portions of this during the week to make
A three-cheese toastie
You serve the stew on the side of your toastie which you make with sourdough bread. The cheeses are cheddar cheese, ricotta and parmesan cheese. Not the healthiest of dishes but oh so yummy and comforting.
Verdict: Everyone loved it and asked for seconds! Real comfort food.
Mean feat no-meat meatballs
These meatballs are made with aubergine, breadcrumbs and a variety of spices. Batch cooking makes 22 balls. I used this in the week to make –
Baked with tomatoes, basil and lemon ricotta
You make your sauce which takes about 20 minutes, at the same time you are baking your no-meat meatballs and then you bake it all together in the oven for another 20 minutes. A real hearty dish.
Verdict: the adults found it delicious, the children were less keen. For the first time in nearly weeks I was asked where the meat was. Youngest also asked me to stop using the oven…
Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal
Another really easy recipe to batch cook and the house smells divine when it is cooking. This makes 6 portions. We then used the base to make –
A soup with roasted peppers and toasted cashews
A really simple dish to make. You simply heat the dhal in a large saucepan, add the chopped roasted peppers, add bouillon powder, water and bring to a simmer. You then toast some cashew nuts for topping. Remove the soup from the heat, blend and serve with naan bread.
Verdict: Everyone absolutely loved it!
Overall verdict about batch cooking
I am a complete convert to batch cooking. This new way of cooking has meant that we are eating healthier, we are saving money on our food bill and I’m not reaching for the ready meals. I really do love having a healthy meal in the freezer that I can then turn into dinner for the whole family. It is perfect when we have spent the day dashing to and from schools and clubs etc. That little bit of prep at the weekend makes a whole world of difference during the week.
Other recipes I have tried from the book
The book also has other sections. There is a poached salmon section. I love salmon but Oldest is less keen so I was excited to try this. I made the poached salmon on toast with poached egg, greens and aioli. This was quite a tricky dish as there were lots of parts that went into it. I would say that this is a dish to make when you are not in a rush. However, it was well worth the effort as Oldest loved it as did everyone else. Win.
Butternut Squash And A Squeeze?
I also roasted some butternut squash as recommended in the book and then kept this in my fridge for a couple of recipes. We made it into a pasta sauce with ricotta. This was the only recipe that none of us were keen on. It just felt a bit bleugh. Not for our tastes. However, we also used the roasted butternut squash to make it into a bruschetta with feta and pumpkin seed salad. That was delicious.
Finally, we had my brother over for the weekend so I made the upside down plum cake. Very easy to make, relatively healthy and tasty. I also made Carla’s tomatoes pomodori a mezzo and fusilli with broccoli, spinach, basil and lemon. Stress-free to make and it tasted delicious. There was also plenty of leftovers which we had for lunch later in the week.
Our verdict of the cookery book as a whole!
This is a really good cookery book to have in your collection. With batch cooking, sweet treats and dinner parties, it will become your go to cookbook. It is very much a feel good cookbook focussing on simple cooking and delicious flavours. Don’t go to this cookbook if you are looking to dazzle and wow people with your adventurous flavour combinations but do get this cookbook if you want to cook meals that everyone will love again and again. Thanks to this book we are now eating much healthier and when we are at home we are eating vegetarian meals. Do I feel like I am missing my meat? Not at all! Has Mr C complained about not having meat? Nope! Miracles people, miracles can happen.
This cookbook is out now in all good bookshops and on Amazon. At time of purchase I paid £10 for it. Best £10 spent.