I was in two minds when I saw this new recipe collection aimed specifically at "real men" thinking it might be a slightly patronising book actually aimed at women desperate to buy something for their men at Christmas, birthdays, Fathers Day and so on.
Like books aimed at toddlers the book is shaped (like a can) and the outer covers made of thick cardboard - we all know blokes can often resemble small children, but do they really need a novelty shaped book to entice them to cook?
But a quick flick through the pages convinced me that this is in fact not an attempt to jump on the "desperate for a bloke present" bandwagon. It deserves more than a place on the shelves alongside amusing mugs with fishing slogans on, beer tankards, comedy socks, football shaped chocolate and golf tees which shops seem to think men lust after.
It is in fact a complete gem of a book which actually had my mouth watering with its collection of recipes ranging from drunk chuck steak and whole tandoori chicken to cookie dough ice-cream (from scratch) and rocky road doughnuts - although I'm not sure I could be bothered to make the doughnuts from scratch I will definitely be using the topping on bought ones!
There is an assumption that blokes love beer - recipes include Beeramisu (with stout), beer-battered fish and chips, Beer waffles with ham and cheese and a whole section with top tips on how to brew your own beer. To be fair my bloke does love beer so he would be very happy with these on his plate!
Another section which I know would appeal to my soon-to-be uni student son is The Big Eat Challenge - two pages of advice on how to organise or take part in quantity/heat/time eating challenges which are very popular at the moment - check out TV's Man vs Food.
Best advice? Eat quickly because it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it's full. Don't drink water with chillies as it makes them hotter - drink lots of milk instead. And make sure you are medically fit to take part - i.e. probably best not to enter a chocolate bar eating competition if you are diabetic!
Each recipe in the book has a handy difficulty rating at the top illustrated with Ape (1=easy) to Man at desk (6=difficult). The authors urge men to ditch the quinoa and nutrition bars and re-learn how to fulfil the appetite of a man while still eating healthily.
Man-Up Your Meals would make a great gift for any age I think - I know my teenage boys would love to try out some of the meals (probably right after finishing the meal I've cooked for them - where do they put it all?) and there are some great basics with a twist which would be useful for students and lads setting up home for the first time.
But equally there are some more challenging dishes for the more confident cook to show off with and all of the recipes are clearly presented with prep time, cook time and how many the meal serves and a great photo of what the finished product should look like!
I thought about the men in my life and wondered who to give it to - but I think I might hang onto it myself for a while actually..... now where did I put those doughnuts....
Disclaimer: I received a copy of "Man-Up Your Meals" published by Parragon RRP £8 free for the purposes of this honest unbiased review.