Rick Stein’s Long Weekends

Get a copy on Amazon. BBC Books, 2016.

Rick Stein’s Long Weekends feels like one big lazy holiday eating around Europe. A disarmingly charming trip to lazy harbours and bustling cities, with food you can gaze longingly at and recipes that you’re actually going to make.

If you saw the TV series that originally accompanied it (please get on Netflix ASAP. Please.) he’s constantly chatting and it feels like he goes on all his holidays notebook in hand, ready to jot down a recipe. I picked up my copy of Rick Stein’s Long Weekends again recently and instantly fell in love with it all over again. Weekends is the sort of cookbook you want to make dishes from; the kind that makes you start looking at flights and holidays. Or sometimes you’re just propped up in bed on a day off, coffee in hand, flicking through and salivating over the gorgeous photos. Or is that just me?

rick stein's long weekends

Do I have to tell you that Rick Stein’s recipes work perfectly? That the list of ingredients is easy to get (and matches the accompanying photos)? That the recipes are clear, conscience and well laid out? You would expect all that in this book and you certainly won’t be disappointed. It’s just a very well written cookbook.

My favourites so far have been the roast beef eclairs, the saffron chicken and pasta alla pesto trapanese (except mine became ‘gnocchi alla pesto trapanese’). 

pesto and tomato gnocchi
Gnocchi alla pesto trapanese (aka pesto gnocchi)

The book is laid out by the kind of meal, meaning you are constantly location hopping; giving you a little variety and always guessing where will be next. The meals themselves are suited to the times you’d eat them: Friday night meals are 30 minutes or less, Saturday brunch simple, entertaining for a Saturday night, classic Sunday lunches and comforting Sunday night dishes. They go with the rhythm of the weekend and the laidback nature of many of the destinations.

Saffron chicken with prunes
Saffron chicken with prunes

The photography is also something else. From market stalls teaming with a rainbow of fruit and veg to sugar-dusted pastels de nata; slabs of beetroot-cured salmon to fish market – the photos are the dishes and the holiday snaps of someone who takes incredible photos. Even if you don’t read a word of the text (which in itself would be a true shame), sit and look at the pictures. They are just gorgeous.

rick stein's long weekends
Rick’s saffron chicken looks better than mine…

This book is for fans of food, travelling and enjoying what the local favourites are. Much of it is simple, wholesome food. But it is all delicious. Most of it is something most of us could knock up, although some confidence in the kitchen will certainly help with a few of the dishes.

Even if you never intend to cook from it (although I dare you to read a copy and not make something!), get a copy to gaze at the pictures and read the travel tales that go along with them.

I fully admit to being a bit of a fanboy of this book (and actually just Rick Stein in general), but it truly is one heck of a book and one I seem to have come back to time and time again. 

Perfect as a present for a foodie or travel-loving friend, a treat for yourself (seriously, at time of writing it’s £7 on Amazon), or one for the collection. This is a book you can love, cook from and generally use a pick me up. Just try not lick the pages or book too many holidays on the back of it

If you’ve already got a copy of Rick Stein’s Long Weekends, his travels in Mexico and in India are also well worth a look.

Get a copy of Rick Stein’s books

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