I’ll start with the pros... this book has absolutely immaculate presentation. Gorgeous visuals throughout with plenty of Friends photos and quotes. Every recipe is tied to a specific episode with a little note on each. Just as a book, it’s a wonderful reminiscing tool and I can’t see a Friends fan who would not enjoy looking through it. There were actually far more recipes than I expected. It’s a similar size to any well known commercial cookbook in hardback format. I made it approximately 120 recipes. This includes sauces, breakfast, appetisers, sides, sandwiches, pizza/pastas, main dishes, a whole ‘friendsgiving’ section, sweets and desserts, drinks (includes Friends themed cocktails).
Recipe wise, this is where the quality started to fail for me. A previous reviewer mentioned there were a lot of American ingredients we don’t have in the UK. I disagree with that. I found that there were very few recipes you would struggle to make. Sometimes it’s just a case of knowing what the UK alternative is. For example, there is a recipe with eggplant. This is simply an aubergine. You might struggle to find graham crackers but these are more or less digestive biscuits. However, what I would strongly suggest is to invest in some US measuring cups. I promise you that you won’t regret it. The recipes are all laid out in this measuring system and when it says ‘cup’ it doesn’t mean to use a mug to measure your ingredients. The quantities are more specific than that and you do need some proper measuring cups for this book.
My main gripe with the book, hence the lower rating, is that I found there are relatively few recipes you’d really want to make. Furthermore, there are a lot of pointless or “filler” recipes. For example, there is a recipe spread over two pages for ‘Phoebe’s Pregnancy Steak’. Now, perhaps I’m too equip in the kitchen but how much can you really say about cooking a steak? Is it really a recipe? My other gripe was that there are lazy techniques used on the recipes. For example, you’ll have a generic ‘joey’s’ marinara sauce recipe and then when you get to the lasagne, instead of talking you through a ragu (which is slightly different than a pizza marinara sauce) it will just say ‘Joey’s marinara sauce or store bought’. For myself, I like cookbooks because they give you the tools to make something from scratch, I don’t want to see ‘store bought sauce’ written in a recipe book. There are many instances of this throughout the book. Then there are also odd pairings, such as when you get to ‘The Joey special: two pizzas’ and the topping for one of them is garlic and clam. Garlic and clam on a pizza? The appeal was lost on myself.
Otherwise, anything you’d hope to see linked from the series is here somewhere. Monica’s little drops of heaven holiday candy, a cheesecake worth stealing, Phoebe’s oatmeal cookies, Ross’s moist maker sandwich. Even Rachel’s famous baked potato and Diet Coke (another slightly pointless recipe). What the truest friends fan might find the most unforgivable is Rachel’s meat trifle. Yes, it’s included but you’ll know from the show she famously used ‘ground beef sautéed with peas and onions’. In the version here, it’s with applewood bacon and blackberry mint jam. Even the lady fingers are omitted. I think the idea here was to make something actually edible but if accuracy grates on you then you’ll have some feelings on this no doubt. If you’re a UK fan you might have realised there is a blooper with the trifle episode in that shepherds pie would not be made with beef but with lamb. They have not picked up on this in the book and the recipe for ‘half a shepherd’s pie’ is with beef (inaccurate).
I did like what they did with the chocolate cookies. As pointed out in the book, the nestle tollhouse recipe is widely available anywhere. Instead they include a recipe for one of Monica’s ‘test batches’ of cookies containing orange zest and bourbon.
All in all, a great piece of friends memorabilia but a debatable cookbook. If you want the book to cook I think you’ll be a bit disappointed. If it’s a piece of friends nostalgia you want it is more pleasing on the eye.
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