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Cook from the book: Mary Makes it Easy

by Rachel Deeley

published on 2 November 2023

With her latest cookbook Mary Makes it Easy, Mary Berry is demystifying the art of cooking for every occasion. Whether you’re entertaining a large party, keen to make a delicious bake, want to cut down on your meat consumption, or simply need inspiration for a straightforward yet delicious midweek dinner, there’s something for everyone in this easy-to-follow book.

To celebrate its release and accompanying TV series on BBC2, a select number of lucky Mary Berry fans from around the world received a copy of Mary Makes it Easy, with the chance to test out some of the book’s 120 brilliant new recipes. Read on to find out what they made, and what they thought of the experience!

Who: Sarah Parker, Suffolk

What I made: Posh Salmon and Prawn Fishcakes with Tomato Salsa

What I thought: Whilst preparing the dish took a little time, primarily because the potatoes and fish needed to cool, it was not complicated to make. I would most certainly recommend making the fishcakes in advance and freezing them. The salsa was easy and very tasty, and I actually made half the recipe as it was just for me and my husband. 

The cost of the ingredients (primarily fish and prawns) wasn’t cheap, but when you break it down by how many this serves, it is actually quite reasonable per head. I made nine fishcakes but it could easily have made 10. One each is ample as they are filling.

Would I make it again? Most certainly – a lovely dish!

Who: Anna Fitzpatrick Layer, Leavenworth, Kansas, United States

What I made: Somerset Cheddar Cheese Straws

What I thought: I thoroughly enjoyed trying Mary Berry’s Somerset Cheddar Cheese Straws recipe! This recipe was easy to make, and it turned out very well. I had trouble finding the Somerset cheddar called for in the recipe, but I substituted a nice Irish cheddar cheese, which worked well.

The instructions were clearly written and easy to understand, and I found the recipe quick and easy to put together. Even my three-year-old had fun “helping” by sampling the cheese and rolling out the dough! During the rolling process, the dough was a bit on the crumbly side, but it held together nicely with some gentle kneading. The straws were a lovely golden brown after only 18 minutes in the oven, and my husband and I loved them! They remind us of a savoury, cheesy shortbread. I think they would be perfect to have with a refreshing salad, or a warming bowl of soup. I’m looking forward to freezing some of them, as they’ll be wonderful to have on hand for entertaining and afternoon snacking! 

Who: Carolyn Boylett, Guisborough, North Yorkshire 

What I made: Friday Night Lamb Curry

What I thought: This was a delicious curry and well received by all of my family although it has been renamed “Saturday Night Lamb Curry” due to the longer cooking time required! 

I made this with a half leg lamb joint which was on offer at my local supermarket, making this recipe less expensive than if I had used neck fillet. I really enjoyed making the curry paste for this dish as I usually rely on ready-made jar pastes. However, making this was really easy to do in a mini food processor and has encouraged me to make all of my own pastes moving forward. The sweetness of the dates gave the paste a lovely flavour.  

I also followed one of the tips in the book and made the curry paste ahead of time. This made assembling the curry later on much quicker. The three onions in this dish seemed a lot – I used three large onions and ended up removing a couple of spoonfuls due to the pan feeling very full. Next time I will probably just use two. 

We really enjoyed the warming, fragrant spices and subtle heat from the chilli. I served it with basmati rice, warmed naan breads, and poppadoms, which were quickly devoured by my husband and two hungry boys. The extra two portions are in the freezer ready to be enjoyed later. I’ll definitely make this again, probably when lamb is next on offer. 

Who: Lindsey Lewis, Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire 

What I made: Spinach Dhal

What I thought: This Dhal was very easy to make and very tasty. I used dried red split lentils and yogurt instead of cream as I’m dairy free.

Who: Fiona Doak, Pirbright, Surrey

What I made: Chicken Escalope with Tzatziki and Glorious Greens with Almonds and Seeds; Friday Night Lamb Curry; Express Apple and Pear Open Pie; and Walnut and Coffee Sandwich Cake

What I thought: This was super easy, and very tasty indeed. It had a short list of ingredients, most of them in the store cupboard. It took no time at all and the chicken was really tender. The Tzatziki took moments, and we had some left, which was gone by the next morning as my daughter found some pitta bread and finished off the lot. I will make this again and again.

I also served the chicken with the Glorious Greens with Almonds and Seeds, as we needed some greens – quick, easy, and very impressive when served up. There was nothing left, and the family wanted to know what else there was to make.

So, over the weekend, I made the Friday Night Lamb Curry, Express Apple and Pear Open Pie, and Walnut and Coffee Sandwich Cake. The curry was fabulous, and tasted even better the next day,  and the Apple and Pear Tart was simple but so good to look at, and there was none left over! The Walnut and Coffee Cake is an absolute gem. My partner Colin loves this cake, stating that it was one of the best cakes I have made, and I bake a lot.

Who: Nicole Charette, Whitby, Ontario Canada

What I made: Strawberry and Cream Ripple Pavlova. 

What I thought: The recipe was very easy to follow. Mary’s steps all made sense and provided the details necessary to make a successful dessert. I like the little bit of information provided before the recipe steps – I learned something new and I’ve been baking for over 30 years! The pavlova was yummy, crunchy on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside. I figured it would last a little longer than after-dinner dessert, but it was too good and the plate was soon empty. 

Who: Joann Wilmshurst, Lincolnshire

What I made: Bara Brith

What I thought: This was a very easy recipe and as with all Mary’s recipes that I have made, it worked.
It is best to leave the fruit to soak overnight, so you need to think about this when deciding to make it. The method is easy to understand and follow with store cupboard ingredients. My husband commented that “this can be made again”.

Who: Annemarie Chalcraft, Northamptonshire

What I made: Maple and Orange Pudding

What I thought: The recipe was very easy to follow and so simple to make. The sponge was very light and moist to eat and the sauce was delicious. I made my dessert in advance and heated the sponge on 600w for two minutes and the sauce on full power (1000w) for 90 seconds. I had friends for dinner and served the dessert with homemade vanilla ice cream. I doubled the spices as I like strong flavours. Will definitely be making this again!

Who: Alison Johnson, Bournville, Birmingham

What I made: Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

What I thought: My granddaughter chose this recipe from the book. The ingredients for the cookies were typical store cupboard ingredients that most bakers would have in their kitchens. The recipe in Mary’s new book was so easy to follow and could be made using only one bowl and a hand mixer. If you didn’t have a hand mixer, a wooden spoon to beat the butter and sugar together would be fine.

When adding the egg, vanilla essence, flour, and oats, just combine them all together but don’t over-mix, otherwise it will become sticky and hard to divide into the even-sized balls. I found it easier to put all the mixture onto the table and to form into a sausage shape to divide it evenly into 24 pieces then roll into small balls. When putting them on the baking tray, make sure that they have space to spread.

They took about 18 minutes to cook in my oven. Once slightly cooled, move carefully to a cooling rack and leave to crispen up.

They are the best chocolate chip cookies I have made as they tasted delicious: crisp on the outside and slightly soft in the middle. I will certainly be making these again – it’s now one of my favourite homemade cookies.


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