Skye Gyngell is the head chef at Petersham Nurseries restaurant. I confess, that until Amazon Vine offered me this book to review, I had never heard of her. Having tested some of her recipes in my amateur way however, I would be more than happy to try her food for real. There are some delicious ideas in the pages of this book.
The book is well presented with beautiful photography, clear text and most impressively, three book marks, so that if you are cooking several things at once you can keep tabs on them all as you go without having to turn the pages down. The recipes are broadly organised into meal categories, and a special occasions section at the end. Within each category Gyngell offers you meal ideas, with say, roast chicken with anchovy sauce alongside the vegetables and dessert she would serve with it. This gives the reader nice ideas, although it does make the book difficult to navigate if you are looking for a particular recipe. I tested the book extensively, and used the index at the back constantly.
The recipe instructions were for the most part fine, although there were a couple of moments mid recipe when I had to reread an instruction. In one cake recipe she uses the word cream as a verb, and it is not entirely clear. I had a moment's panic when I thought I had left a key ingredient out of the mixture, which was not terribly helpful.
The book is an odd mix of recipes. It claims to show how Gyngell cooks at home, which may explain why there are recipes for tomato salad (which I was amazed even needed a recipe) next to bouillabaise, and simple roasted fillet of beef next to how to prepare a lobster. It is not an ideal book for the amateur chef, nor for anyone curious to recreate Gyngell's restaurant fare. Having said that there are some lovely things in this book, and things I have not come across in other books. I am most keen to try the Italian Easter cake made with risotto rice and candied oranges for example.
Some of the ingredients will be out of the question for the average chef, like the drink which requires you to pick seventy or eighty peach leaves, and for which she rightly acknowledges you will need a peach tree. There are several ice cream recipes too, all of which look delicious, but which require you to have an ice cream maker. It is possible to make ice cream without one, I know, but the recipes do not address that, simply telling you to put the mixture in the ice cream maker.
I made the pound cake, the chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, the green beans with roasted tomatoes and olives, potatoes dauphinoise, caramelised carrots cooked in honey and butter, sauteed leeks, rice pudding and the pulled bread. The results were tasty, although with my temperamental oven, the cooking times were much different from advertised.
An interesting book.