Quick and easy cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best recipe books for simple, satisfying meals

Meals in Heels

Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, £12.99

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When throwing a dinner party for friends, it’s never a good look to be panicking over boiling pots as your guests arrive, and be too harassed to do anything but point them towards an open bottle of wine.

Twickenham food writer and stylist Jennifer Joyce aims to provide inspiration for all busy ladies who like to cook – the book’s subtitled ‘do-ahead dishes for the dinner party diva’. Yes, it’s an excruciating name, but this is still a great little cookbook.

Following a genuinely helpful tips section (garnishes, pacing, portions) and some menu suggestions, recipes are filed under canapés, starters, mains, stews and roasts, barbecue, sides, sweets and basics.

Everything is geared, of course, to making dishes well ahead on the day – or even days before, and is presented with serving or other recipe suggestions. Recipes are clear and easy to follow – and they work.

Skewered chicken yakitori was delicious, while the West Indies chicken with mango salsa was outstanding and has been made several times since. A Goan curry was made, as suggested, two days in advance, and absolutely delicious when assembled after a rushed day at work.

It’s a shame then, that the premise and illustrations are so silly. While there are very few illustrations of the actual food, there are plenty of a long-limbed cartoon woman posing in perfect apartments or in front of ordered fridges, deciding on which frock to wear or enjoying alfresco summer drinks.

It’s a cookbook to use, and to keep. Just stash it behind the ones you’d admit to having until the redesigned reprint comes out. And if you’d like a taste of her food, you can find it at the Meals in Heels blog.

Simone Baird, Time Out London Issue 2063: March 4-10 2010

Buy this cookbook