Tag Archives: Quadrille Publishing

Book review: Gordon Ramsay’s 3 Star Chef

3 Star Chef (9073)

I learn new things every day. From anyone. It doesn’t matter if on the other side of the bench there’s a chef or a home cook who’s doing the teaching. If something makes sense, it makes sense. That’s it. Done deal. I do have lots of respect for people who know their craft; those who have gone through years of classes and training in the best kitchens, with the masters. They took the time to train for excellence. Not a mean feat. They might seem arrogant, and arguably some are, but I would count to ten before saying so. Not all restaurants are the same. And not every chef is the same. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Gordon Ramsay or trying his food; still, through reading his work and watching the man on tv, whether from a restaurant kitchen or indeed at home, I feel I have actually learnt something. Please note that two books by Ramsay have been out on the same date: Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course (Hodder & Stoughton) and 3 Star Chef (Quadrille Publishing). The former accompanies a tv series, and has a very different style. Quadrille were kind enough to send me a review copy of the latter on the day of publication. Without diminishing the importance of eating well at home, cooking in a restaurant kitchen is obviously a very different thing. This book is about restaurant food at the highest level.

There’s no doubt about it: the guys at Quadrille know what they’re doing. Freshly pressed, everything about 3 Star Chef (the mini edition) points to one thing: Perfection…with a capital P. And that’s Gordon Ramsay for you. He needs no introduction, and for those who don’t know who he is, let’s just say that one doesn’t get three stars from Michelin for nothing. This book is Gordon Ramsay. You can tell as soon as you read what he has to say about this project.

First impressions are good. It’s white so it’s clean. The photos are stunning, the food exquisite, so it’s beautiful. There are a few photos of the Chef but this is meant to be a celebration of Ramsay’s accomplishments so far, so there’s definitely a place for them. The first half is glossy and shows off 50 of his trademark dishes at their best, whereas the second half is matte, snaps us out of nirvana, and explains how they are made (step by step, without any extra patronising). What I didn’t do this time is to try some of his signature dishes myself (something which I usually do for completeness), but hey, really, what is there to confirm about the food? There are some dishes which scare me, but others, like the Fillet of red mullet with cod, spring onion and pearl barely risotto, with a sweet and sour pepper sauce, seem attainable enough. At least to cook; I cannot really hope to replicate the presentation. I would also like to try my hand at the Carrot and white chocolate fondant with dark chocolate sorbet.

It’s easy to sort through which recipes one could reasonably try. However, some seem impractical as they need very particular ingredients; this is hardly unexpected in recipes of this kind, and substitutions aren’t acceptable (unless this is already indicated). Others cause logistical problems: what to do with any leftover ingredients. My only concern is the lack of a list of stockists, for those specialist ingredients. Though of course there is always the internet. If you want it, you can find it. Gordon will certainly not treat you like a kid. If you’re capable of mastering these types of dishes, then you probably already know where to get the ingredients from, or at least how to find out.

It’s a book that belongs in the kitchen as well as in the living room. Priced at a mere £20 it makes a nice gift for any Gordon fan. Quadrille have confirmed that this year’s edition has the same content as the signed limited edition of 2007. It just has been reduced in size. It’s not the kind of book I’d normally go for if I was merely browsing in a bookshop. Having said that, now I’ve spent some time reading it I’m not quite so sure.

Rob x

Book review: Small Adventures in Cooking.

Persian-Stew-with-Jeweled-Rice-(4702)

So some three weeks ago or so, I came across a very interesting concept by the people back at Quadrille Publishing. Interesting as in good, by the way, just in case you were about to ask. It’s called New Voices in Food and their objective is to showcase exciting and talented new chefs. I contacted Quadrille about this project and I was sent James Ramsden’s Small Adventures in Cooking, published on the 6th June.

When it arrived in the post I was so relieved, for two things mainly: size and simplicity. It’s full of original ideas but it’s small enough to carry in a small bag. Big encyclopaedic-sized table top books are very nice mind you, but if you’re like me and you like to read through recipe books from cover to cover before you actually decide on what recipes to try, then the big ones don’t work for you initially. And since this is a simple book then there’s no glossy pages to deal with, which is, as you might know already, what I like best. Simplicity and unpretentiousness is what you get throughout the book; the real stars of the show are the recipes themselves. Even though James is the author, he is confident enough not to have loads of photos of himself splashed about. There are some photos on the flaps but that is it. Another good thing. So I marked most of the pages with orange sticky notes, as usual, and away I read.

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What I wanted to do before writing this review (which is by no means exhaustive) was to try some of James’ recipes. I have tried three, taking them from different sections of the book: the first was the 5-minute Sponge, second the Macerated Strawberries and third his Persian Aubergine Stew with Jewelled Rice. To be honest, my choice was more influenced by the current contents of my pantry rather than my present non-existing adventurous spirit. Don’t get me wrong. I was really inspired by the recipes, but I am moving house very soon so lately I’ve been trying to cook with whatever I have. That being said, I only needed one trip to the market and another to the butcher to get what I needed. I was impressed – usually I get lost among ingredients, wanting to buy every fresh vegetable and every fresh piece of meat I see. But James is teaching me to economise without compromising flavour.

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I started with the Persian Stew. I like stews to begin with because they remind me of home. This is stew with a twist and it’s so simple to make. Looking back I should have made it without the extra Tweaks (the little hints for each recipe) just because I would have given a more solid opinion. But for once I had some limes in the fridge (and this is very rare) so all I had to do was get myself an aubergine and some lamb. Both the stew and the accompanying rice are delicious. My only add-on was to throw a few tablespoons of sugar the second time round, to make up for the sharpness of the tomatoes and the bitterness of the limes and cranberries. This stew has become one of my favourites and if you’re feeding a family or having friends over for a meal, this will be a hit.

I tried the sponge and the strawberry recipes today. I only needed some quiet time this morning, after some coffee of course, to make everything. The Macerated Strawberries is an assemblage really – you need strawberries, lemon zest, mint and sugar, and pepper to serve, and that’s it. Perfect. (Let’s face it, few are those who don’t have strawberries in the fridge at the moment. Being a tennis enthusiast, I did.) And they are yummy with the 5-minute sponge, a five-minute easy whisking job and 15-20 minutes in the oven. Definitely another winner. There’s a selection of other things I plan to try later on…I bought a tub of cream not only for the next Two-week Strawberry-Fest which is Wimbledon, but also for the Kedgeree (pg.86). Plus I have enough chocolate for the Chocolate and Fennel Brownies (pg. 137) and beyond so I’m good to go! On my Facebook page I said that at first glance this book was a beauty. Now I can say that it really is. You can find James’ blog here.

Rob x