Food & Drink Magazine

Marvellous Meals with Mince – A Book Review

By Melikeyuk
Chocolate and Cinnamon Infused Chilli

Marvellous Meals with Mince – A Book Review

Josceline Dimbley wrote the first cookery books ever to be sold in Sainsbury’s stores way back in the late 70′s. She was a food columnist for The Sunday Telegraph and is a very successful and creative cookery writer. To be honest, I am more familiar with her son, Henry’s culinary creations so when there was an opportunity to review the revised and updated version of Marvellous Meals with Mince, I grabbed it with both hands.

Marvellous Meals with Mince is released on 13 September 2012.

So what were my overall thoughts on the book?

  • Price

Retailing at £9.99, this book seems a reasonable price as it comprises 75 recipes.

  • Size

I like the fact the book is easily portable, bookshelf friendly but still contains several recipes.

Josceline Dimbleby's new book.

The size of the book is bookshelf friendly

  • Concept and Variety

The book is purposely categorised into different sections of mince with an icon on the corner of each page denoting the type of mince to which the recipe is referring (e.g. a cow to represent beef dishes and a hen to represent poultry dishes).

To have mince as the focus of the book is a very good idea and I feel would strike a chord with many households across the globe. With the exception of vegetarians, mince is used in several dishes whether it be Chilli in Mexico, Lasagne in Italy or Shepherd’s Pie in the UK. I also feel it’s a good idea to extend the theme to minced poultry and fish as they are often more healthy and innovative alternatives.

The chapters of Marvellous Meals with Mince

The chapters are split into categories of minced dishes.

Throughout the book, there are quotes from well known individuals devoted to food ranging from Luciano Pavarotti to my own countryman Rabbie Burns (cue flashback to reciting Scottish poetry at primary school – eek!) which I thought was a nice touch.

Nice quote from Rabbie Burns in Marvellous meals with mince

Marvellous Meals with Mince is peppered with nice quotes

  • Target Audience

I definitely think this book is aimed at families; many of the recipes are written for multiple diners with the average serving being for 6. I also think that the timing of the release of this book has coincided well for those of us who are meal planning and sticking closely to a tight budget.

  • Application

So would I actually use the recipes within the book? The original version of the book was published in 1982 and it still has a retro vibe to it. A lot of the recipes are quite heavy and rich: Hunter’s Pie, Curried Beef Surprise Cake, Open Pie with Garlic and Herb Pastry to name a few. There are a few dishes that require deep fat frying and the Pork, Red Onion and Courgette Tart that I was initially drawn to contains lard which I would now not make. So to a degree, I feel that there are elements of the book that are still dated.

Rich and heavy on the calories - some of the recipes within Marvellous Meals with Mince

A lot of the recipes appear very heavy and rich.

On balance, I would make about 15% of the recipes presented in this dish. Some of the dishes I look forward to making in the future are:

  • Green Dragon Walnut Meatballs
  • Turkey Balls with Lemon and Cardamom
  • Atlas Mountain Soup

I also made Josceline’s Chilli Con Carne Extra which contains dark chocolate and cinnamon. The recipe suggests removing the stem and seeds from the chilli but I like heat in my chilli and sadly, it just wasn’t there. Next time, I’ll pop in an extra chilli but I’ll also be keeping the stem and seeds! What it lacked in heat, it made up for in flavor with subtle chocolate notes. Thanks Josceline!

Chilli Con Carne infused with Chocolate and Cinnamon

My attempt at Chilli Con Carne Extra

Quadrille Publishing have kindly granted me permission to print Josceline’s Chilli Con Carne Extra.

Print Chilli Con Carne Extra by Josceline Dimblebly

Prep Time: 13 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 43 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 6 for Lunch or Dinner

If you like your chilli spicy, add a minimum of 3 chillies and retain the seeds. In this recipe, I used 450g of minced beef and 1.5 x 400g tin(s) of red kidney beans which I felt was sufficient for the dish.


  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced into rings
  • 500g of lean beef mince
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1-3 small red or green chillies
  • 2 x 400g tins of red kidney beans
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • 25g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • a handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and stir around for 1-2 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Increase the heat, add the beef mince and stir for 2-3 minutes, or until separated and browned.
  3. Mix in the cinnamon and remove from the heat.
  4. Cut the chillies open and remove the stem and seeds and thinly slice the flesh.
  5. Drain the kidney beans and add them to the casserole dish together with the sliced chillies.
  6. Stir through the chopped tomatoes and season generously with salt.
  7. Break the chocolate into a small saucepan and add the water. Place over a very low heat and stir until the chocolate has melted into the water, then add to the meat mixture.
  8. Cover the casserole dish and return to the heat.
  9. Bring to a bubbling point, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Just before serving stir in the parsley.


Serve with some white rice or warmed pitta bread.

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  • Other points to note

Over half the recipes have a photograph of what the finished article should look like which is reasonable as a photo for every dish could become a costly exercise.

When I follow a recipe, I like to know at the outset how long a dish is going to take me to cook. I would prefer a total time indication (ideally preparation and cooking time) rather than having to read through the recipe and count up the cooking times.

This book contains many “comfort food recipes” and as the seasons change it will serve as a point of reference for many Autumnal and Winter dishes.

I’d like to express my thanks to Quadrille publishing for providing a review copy and introducing me to the recipes of Josceline Dimbleby.

This book revisits recipes from the 1980′s . Which recipes do you know of/recall from that era? Do let me know in the comments below.

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