PROS: All of the recipes I tried from the book were packed with flavor. Also, I don’t know if I was just lucky or if this is true of all the recipes, but nothing was incredibly hard to make. The book is clear and the recipes are easy to follow.
CONS: Gordon Ramsay has given himself a name in the entertainment world as being a dick – he’s so mean on some of his shows. That’s actually my only con and has nothing to do with the book itself.
This will be my last cookbook review until sometime in July. I’m moving and am trying to eat what’s left in my house without buying a whole lot more. That makes it hard to review. So, we have this to hold me off until July!
I first “met” Gordon Ramsay while watching Masterchef. I know he has other TV shows, like Kitchen Nightmares, but I can’t stand how mean he can be. At least on Masterchef he’s more subdued. But anyway, Gordon Ramsay is very critical of the chefs on his show. I decided to hold Gordon to his own standard – I would review his cookbook!
Now, Gordon Ramsay has written may cookbooks. So I typed his name into my library search and chose the first book that came up. That’s about as easy as it was.
The book has many pictures in it. Though there aren’t pictures of every food dish, which I would prefer (but I realize is entirely not realistic,) the pictures that are included are really representative of the food in the cookbook. There are also some artsy photos in the book of things like knives and kitchen and Mr. Ramsay himself. This adds to the aesthetic of the book.
Now, the book is broken down in an interesting way. I’m used to predictable chapters in books, the entrees, the appetizers, etc. This book doesn’t follow that organization. The chapters include, Classics with a Twist, Fish, Meat, Spices, Good Food for Less, Cooking in Advance, Cooking for One or Two, Cooking for Friends, Baking, and Basic Skills. Within each of those chapters there are appetizers, entrees, and desserts. While it doesn’t make it the easiest for opening to a dessert or whatever you’re looking for, I was intrigued by the ingenuity of the organization. Also, in the beginning of each chapter Gordon explains the significance of the chapter.
Due to the randomness of my recipe selection (I really do use a random number generator,) I didn’t cook from every chapter in the book. I did cook from the Spices, Good Food For Less, and Cooking For One or Two sections. In the beginning of the spice chapter, Gordon Ramsay lists the spices he thinks should be included in every pantry, including cardamom, cloves, and turmeric (to name a few.) In the cookbook there’s lots of lists like that – Gordon details what kitchen equipment everyone should own for instance. He also gives detailed instructions on how to bone a fish, how to clean oysters, etc. The skills in this book are definitely worth learning and he explains them in a manner that makes sense – even how to chop an onion.
Gordon has an interesting palate. Even outside of the Spices chapter, he relies a lot of interesting flavors. At this point, I get it. I get why he’s so critical of the masterchefs on his show, on the owners of the kitchens he goes into, and whatever shows he’s in. He knows good food and he knows good flavor. This would definitely be a book I would add to my shelf.
Ricotta Pancakes with Yogurt and Honey p. 224
Gordon’s recipe actually uses blueberries. For some reason my grocery store never has blueberries when I want them. This is not the first time I’ve tried to find blueberries and failed. So I chose another berry – the raspberry. I wasn’t sure how these would turn out because I haven’t liked ricotta pancakes in the past, but the texture wasn’t too cheesy at all. This recipe was found in the “Cooking For One Or Two” chapter. The recipe was easy to follow and turned out great. Though Gordon suggests that pancakes aren’t just for breakfast, I did eat them for breakfast. Yum!
Chile Beef Lettuce Wraps p. 132
This recipe starts with a snippet at the top of the page that says, “Great food doesn’t have to be complex.” I agree. Good food needs to be flavorful. These chile beef wraps were both easy to make and tasted complex. The dressing and the meat both had a lot of great spices in it, including garlic, ginger, chile, and then also fish sauce, brown sugar, and limes. The only thing is, these aren’t quite substantial for a meal. But I served it alongside some chow mein take-out. It was perfect.
Chickpea, Cumin, and Spinach Koftas with Tahini Dressing p. 168
Next up – these chickpea and spinach koftas out of the “Good Food For Less” chapter. I love chickpeas, so when I randomly chose this recipe I was excited! When I made them the mixture was sort of greenish – as they fry they change more golden. This was an easy dish, again with great flavors. Paired with the yogurt, tahini, lemon, and cilantro dressing – these chickpea balls made a great meal.
Shawarma Spiced Chicken Wraps p. 131
Last but not least, I made this chicken shawarma. Marinated in cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, garlic, lemon juice, and cilantro leaved, this chicken is a fast cooker. This recipe was the second of the recipes I made from the “Spices” section. This was another quick meal to make. Let the chicken marinate and when you’re ready to actually cook, it can be as quick as 15 minutes. The original recipe called for cabbage (and did not call for tomato.) I had to use what I had left in the fridge, so I made that minor adjustment. In all, I give this dish a thumbs up!
Overall: Gordon Ramsay is a master of flavors. He has the ability to bring in flavors to his foods without making everything too complex. He is a good explainer and his book gives great instructions on how to accomplish these flavor combinations alone. I wish I had tie to try more of these recipes, including the Fish Pie, his version of Shakshuka (or what he calls North African Eggs,) Beef Meatballs with Orecchiette, Kale, and Pine Nuts, and the Malt Chocolate Doughnuts. Guess this is another book to add to my list of ones I need to buy!