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Eating In

Healthy eating recipes with help in choosing what to eat:

Eating in is a superb home cooking book full of ideas designed to make cooking enjoyable and quicker when choosing what to eat. It is the latest book by Scottish food and cookery expert and winner of Masterchef Sue Lawrence. We love her books so much for their enthusiasm, easy to create and delicious meals that we have changed format and given it its own page, rather than add it to the Family Cookbook page. If you were to buy only one book for your kitchen this year, then please do make it this one.

It is a joy to follow, from the sharp photographs through to the simple way that Sue describes them. There are over one hundred to choose from and they are conveniently broken down into occasions. As you'd expect from a Scottish cookery writer Sue Lawrence starts with Hogmanay and New Year Day meals: making it ideal for Christmas so that the home chef can get stuck into cooking straight away. This is the wonderful thing about her style of writing: her enthusiasm is infectious and she makes the reader want to grab the ingredients from the shops and run back to the kitchen to prepare delights that all the family will love. So those celebrating Hogmanay could serve Chinese noodle salad with mango, crab and ginger followed by warm chocolate shortbread and pistachio mouse cake. Whilst for New Year lunch she shares her hot smoked salmon tart with rocket and crème fraiche, goose fat stovies and lemon curd and bramble cream pie.

The Drummer Boy

The Drummer Boy is my latest novel about the ghost of a Gordon Highlander Drummer Boy from the Battle of Waterloo who haunts a modern day army nurse.

Chapters take place in modern day Aberdeen, at the Noose & Monkey bar and restaurant as well as His Majesty’s Theatre and Garthdee. Other scenes take place at Tidworth and during the Napoleonic War.

Read the first three chapters for free on most devices.

Sue may already be familiar to readers of Scotland on Sunday and The Sunday Times or perhaps you have seen her on the STV programme The Hour. Her other books include Haste Ye Back, Scottish Kitchen, Book of Baking and A Cook's Tour of Scotland. So we can safely say that Sue knows her onions! But don't be fooled into thinking that she only writes about Scottish recipes: she takes traditional Scots meals and gives them a unique modern twist for national palates. For example Cullen Skink is a soup from the North East of Scotland using Finnan haddock. It is a wonderfully filling soup which Sue has turned into a pie that can be served warm with salad or cold as a quiche.

Choosing what to eat and what to cook for the family whilst giving variety and providing healthy eating recipes can be a challenge for modern home cooks. This helps in so many ways whether the occasion is a simple family meal at low cost or a formal dinner party. Many can be prepared in advance of cooking which is ideal for large and busy families. Sue is realistic in her cooking advice and recognises that families like to eat in front of the television so has sections for finger food and TV dinners which are much healthier than takeaways and take less time to prepare and make than picking up the phone and awaiting junk food. These eating healthy recipes compared to takeaways include haggis nachos and partan bree risotto.

Light meals range from soups such as pea and mint soup with hot smoked salmon, lentil and ginger soup served with naan bread and parsley and brazil nut soup.

Scots may be stereotyped as frugal but in this day and age it pays to save the pennies and Sue assists the family cook with her money saving tips and cheap but filling meals such as buying cheaper braising cuts of meat to casserole slowly until they are soft and tender, a low cost fish pie or cooking herring fillets with cauli cheese mash as a cheap dish.

The Sunday roast is not forgotten and meals include spinach gratin, lamb shanks with red wine and rosemary or herb, mustard and lemon roast chicken.

Quick and easy recipes include a delicious crab linguini and a quick seafood pasta.

Continuing the easy manner in the sweets and puddings section sees a 30 minutes to cook sticky toffee pudding that serves eight, a deep apple pie that has a generous ten portions and what Sue describes as the easiest ice-cream recipe ever: banana and lime with chocolate sauce.

Occasions are not confined to what some may see as largely Scottish celebrations. So there is an Easter lunch of roast lamb with cannellini beans, roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes. Chocoholics will love Sue's descriptions for some of her recipes such as the Easter cake which she calls a great big fudgy chocolate cake. Other events and occasions include red pepper and goats cheese tart for book club suppers, an anniversary dinner of smoked salmon and asparagus risotto and summer party meals of spinach. feta and mint filo rolls or lamb tagine with artichokes and quails eggs.

Warmer weather meals for picnics includes the easy BBQ meals range from pan bagnat, cottage cheese and herb muffins, pork chops or halloumi cheese with romesco sauce and barbecued camembert.

Winter meals range from Halloween dead man's fingers with slime and blood pies. Reading Sue's memories of past Halloweens in Scotland is fascinating and must have been the source for her wicked imagination that uses black puddings instead of mincemeat to form these devilishly moreish pies.

Cakes for the school fate are included and include something for everyone including treats for children, teachers and parents. Tray bakes such as chocolate bar slab, cranberry coconut and seed oaty flapjacks, jam and coconut tart, treacle tart bars and carrot cake cupcakes.

Readers will be delighted to find the Scottish tablet recipe in the gifts section, another treat to make for the children. This favourite is much like fudge but with more sugar, one of the indulgent treats that temporarily ignores healthy eating. Others to make as gifts include beetroot and ginger chutney.

Treats for the adults are also included and we favour the perfect cheese scone though the easiest fruit cake ever comes a close second. If these treats make you feel guilty then baking the bran and carrot muffins may make you feel you are having healthy pleasures.

Sue's tour around seasonal events ends with Christmas recipes ranging from snacks like warm lemon and mint olives, crab tartlets with mango salsa and tapenade on toast. Her Christmas lunch menu starts with chestnut soup then roast turkey with lemon and parmesan stuffing and saves you time and effort with her overnight bag of roasted vegetables and perfect roast potatoes followed by Scottish favourite of cloutie dumpling.

There are photos and sketches to accompany most of the recipes in Eating In, though we would have loved to have seen more images included. However the photographs of Scotland scenery such as scenes of Stornoway and the Hebrides more than makes up for this and part of the fun of cooking for your family is seeing how your own efforts turn out. It made us intrigued enough to make the Irn-Bru cake and antcake for ourselves.

It is a must for the family kitchen, especially those on a modest budget or who want to start healthy eating. It is ideal for those wanting easy ideas and quick meals when choosing what to eat.

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