Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book review: Double Delicious

Jessica Seinfeld's books Deceptively Delicious and her new offering Double Delicious are incredibly controversial due to their basic premise of sneaking fruit and veg into various meals and desserts. I have her first book and use it fairly often, so when I saw the second one on sale, I quickly went out and ordered it. Before I review the book itself, I want to state from the outset that I do not believe in sneaking in fruit and veggies into my children's food as the only way they will consume fresh produce. However, I have no problem with boosting the nutrient content of what they do eat, while also serving them plenty of whole fruit and veg throughout the day (which they may or may not eat!). Now onto the review:

The core concept of Double Delicious is similar to her first book - keep a freezer stash of veggie and fruit purees that you can then incorporate into various meals. A lot of other reviewers have had a problem with this, and in a way, they are right. Having to have this stock of purees, and then remember to thaw them prior to dinner prep, does mean that the majority of recipes are not really "good, simple food for busy, complicated lives" as the tagline for the book states. However, if you pre-plan and have built up the stash of purees like I have (or can quickly zap some up in the microwave), then the recipes are pretty straight forward. You could also sub in pureed baby food if you are really short of time.

I have to say that the recipes in this book are not as good as in her first. All the recipes I tried in Deceptively Delicious were a hit both with the adults and the kids. Most of the recipes we have tried in Double Delicious have been great but for some of the dishes the texture and/or taste was not quite right. Another difference is that this book only includes vegetable purees, and not fruit. What I did love about this book over the first is the index organised by type of puree. This means you can search for recipes either based on what you want to use up (eg some leftover roasted squash from a previous meal) or what you feel you child might be missing out on.

So which recipes did we love?

The Cinnamon-Maple Quinoa was a real hit with both the kids and me. I love porridge in the morning, and it was nice to try something similar and yet different. I also find that recipes like this are a good way to extend my kids tastes since it is not too far from their comfort zone. This recipe had just the right balance of sweetness and spice, and the sweet potato puree paired really well.

Jerry's Cinnamon Buns were great, WITHOUT the glaze. The buns themselves were very yummy - light, moist and just the way cinnamon buns should be. The glaze, on the other hand, did not even make it out of the bowl and onto the buns. I was dubious reading the glaze recipe, made with cauliflower puree, and should have trusted my instincts. However, the buns topped with my regular cream cheese glaze were divine.

Scrambled Egg Muffins were an easy sell for the kids since they love eggs. I made these with whole eggs rather than the 3 whites and 1 whole egg the recipe calls for since I don't believe egg yolks are bad for you, and I used regular pork bacon rather than turkey. These were super quick and easy, and were also great cold in the lunchbox.

Chicken and Rice Soup was another hit - the carrot and cauliflower purees add a hint of sweetness as well as a vibrant orange colour that the kids loved. I made it in my Thermomix, using diced chicken breasts rather than whole ones, and it was so easy.

The Butternut Tomato Soup was one of the few recipes that did not use purees, and it was another soup hit from this book. Leave out the weird tofu topping, though.

Chicken and Biscuits was really yummy and the kids loved it, but it also highlighted the flaws so many have raised about sneaking in veggies instead of incorporating non-pureed versions instead. The pureed pumpkin is a great addition, and I will be including it next time, but I will also add a couple of cups of fresh or frozen veggies (like diced carrot, peas and corn) to the stew as well. Even if the kids pick some of them out, it normalises the place of vegetables in a meal.

The Chicken Enchiladas will definitely become part of our Mexican Monday nights, they were that good. They were creamy and cheesy and just perfect. Served with a side of rice, corn and beans and we had a seemingly sinful, yet completely healthy meal.

Pasta with Pea Pesto was another recipe minus a puree. This was really yummy and if you subbed some diced ham or bacon for the chicken would make a quick and easy pantry meal for those nights you are tempted to get take-out.

The recipe for Gnocchi is amazing. There is no other word for it. In less than hour I had homemade, from scratch, light and fluffy gnocchi. The kids loved this plain with a touch of butter.

So, overall, it depends what you are looking for in a cookbook for your family. If you want very quick and easy recipes, this one is probably not for you. If you are prepared to spend a couple of hours initially to build up the stock of purees, and want to add some extra nutrition into meals that the whole family will like, and especially if you liked Deceptively Delicious, then I can highly recommend this book. While I don't agree with her focus on low-fat (and in particular, low saturated fat), this is easily remedied with some substitutions. I don't think I will use all of these recipes regularly (especially the desserts/snacks), but quite a number of them will make it into our regular rotation.

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