They say the Dinner Party that great middle-class social institution that flowered in the 80s is coming back. Maybe so, the music certainly is for those too young to have suffered it the first time round and I am digging out my old piano keyboard tie and bright blue Buggles spectacles just in case.
For most of us with families though dinner parties aren’t really an option anymore. There are the babysitters to consider, so dinner can’t drag on late, no one can drink because they’re driving and there’s no longer the dubious thrill of discovering who your sister has secretly invited ‘because I know you two will have sooooo much in common!’
So Family Food is what we really eat. Meals the whole nest can enjoy, thus cutting down on the washing up and the arguments and the tantrums. We want dishes that are easy to prepare whilst simultaneously adjudicating on bare knuckle fights and reading a story about puffins. Kevin Dundon is a chef and a father of three, so if anyone can help he can.
So here have over a hundred recipes that can be cooked under combat conditions. Chapters are divided into areas such as one-pot wonders, quick and easy suppers, roasts and family meals, leftovers, accompaniments and desserts. One-pot meals are of course the perfect family fodder, leaving behind minimal clearing and normally quite forgiving about timings. What’s more Kevin’s aren’t all stews, delicious though his sound, but also things like Beef and Black bean stir fry and Chicken in Red Wine (the alcohol has of course evaporated during cooking). His Hearty Fish Stew could satisfy the saltiest old sea dog let alone a fussy family.
None of his dishes are boring, in fact many sound a lot tastier than you find in ‘cheffy’ books. Pan seared Pollock with lemon-scented potatoes, a crunchy Chicken and Bacon bun, Lamb and Rosemary pie and loads more.
Kevin owns the Dumbrody Country House and Hotel in Wexford, Ireland where he also runs a well-regarded cookery school. This book shows that the man who has cooked for presidents, royalty and some bloke called Bono, has his spatula firmly on the ground when it comes to helping every family feed better and for less.