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The Cafe Cookbook: Recipes from London's River Cafe [Hardcover]

Ruth Rogers , Rose Gray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1998
With their innovative interpretation of Italian country cooking, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers have made London's legendary River Cafe one of the most influential and popular restaurants in the world. Their first book, Rogers Gray Italian Country Cookbook, was an international bestseller. Now, in The Cafe Cook Book, they provide more than 200 sensational new recipes in the vibrant, accessible style that has become their trademark.

Gray and Rogers continue to provide fresh interpretations of Italian cuisine, and in this new book, their enthusiasm for roasting in a wood oven takes center stage. Home cooks can create the same results by roasting meats, fish, vegetables, or fruits at a high temperature on the lowest rack of the oven or by slow roasting over a longer period of time. With these techniques, flavors become more intense, concentrated, and delicious: Pumpkin wedges with thyme. Radicchio wrapped in pancetta. Turbot or monkfish with capers. Baked loin of tuna with coriander. Chicken pan-roasted with milk and marjoram. Crisp, thin-crusted pizza. Rustic, country-style bread. Apricot, nectarine, and plum bruschetta. Baked pears with valpolicella.

In addition, favorite recipes from the River Cafe include seasonal fruit drinks, antipasti, pastas, risotto, soups, ice creams, and desserts. The Cafe Cook Book is essential for everyone who loved the first book as well as for those who have yet to discover this irresistible style of cooking.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson N Potter Publishers (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902137
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 20 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,933,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The sort of book that you might find inside a Le Creuset pot you've been given as a wedding present (it's even the same colour), and the sort of book that people over supplied with such pots, along with armouries of Sabatier knives, might reach for if they ever decide to hold a dinner party.
Question is, do I really need a full page recipe to tell me that fresh buttered pasta tastes great when generously scattered with white truffle shavings? (Like most of the recipes here, this comes with a full-page picture, in this case the standard `white truffle being shaved over pasta' pic that gets printed along with every magazine article about truffles). Or six sides of variations on a basic crespu?
Some of the recipes are oddly overspecific (presumably to maintain the ideologically pure `italian' flavour): On grounds of personal taste I disagree with the noodle recipe (which is fine, but, with much work, will produce noodles pretty much indistinguishable from good noodles bought from a shop, in which case why make them yourself?), but nevertheless think it is unnecessary to specify the flour be typo-00 (I think, I forget the technical designation for canonical italian noodle flour) - different flours, different noodles (I usually use ordinary strong plain flour supplemented with a quarter semolina, and eggs and yolks as available), but they all taste good given experience. Similarly, they specify `Chianti' for red wine for cooking: I challenge anyone to be able to distinguish reliably a random 10DM Chianti from any other young tannic red wines, after it's been cooked and reduced.
A few recipes look technically questionable.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This cookbook is sensual almost to the point of obscenity. Whether it's a crustini with roasted aporicots, or a well-cut London baker with trim muscles bulging, the photos have a way of bringing out a person's lust for cooking. The recipes and the pictures are gorgeous, mouthwatering perfection. The recipes are neither fast nor easy. But they are well-described and scruptious! This book is geared towards people who know how to cook. For example, they'll tell you to blanche almonds without telling you what that means or how to do it; they'll tell you that the flavor of a cake depends on the perfect roasting of the hazelnuts, but they give no clue as to how to attain that perfection. That said, they do an admirable job of telling what you need to know and no more. And really, a bunch of extraneous information can confuse instead of being helpful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading and photography. 3 Jan 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I own a pizzeria/trattoria in Johannesburg, South Africa and I find the two volumes excellent reading. I'm also a very keen photographer and find that side to be equally as exciting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best, however.... 18 Nov 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This cookbook is my favorite; however, there is a photograph of a dead pig that definetely could have been left out. Stomach-turning...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars supurb, sensual cookbook for people who know how to cook 24 April 1998
By joshu@teleport.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This cookbook is sensual almost to the point of obscenity. Whether it's a crustini with roasted aporicots, or a well-cut London baker with trim muscles bulging, the photos have a way of bringing out a person's lust for cooking. The recipes and the pictures are gorgeous, mouthwatering perfection. The recipes are neither fast nor easy. But they are well-described and scruptious! This book is geared towards people who know how to cook. For example, they'll tell you to blanche almonds without telling you what that means or how to do it; they'll tell you that the flavor of a cake depends on the perfect roasting of the hazelnuts, but they give no clue as to how to attain that perfection. That said, they do an admirable job of telling what you need to know and no more. And really, a bunch of extraneous information can confuse instead of being helpful.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended Simple Recipes for Good Cooks 22 Jun 2004
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
`The Café Cook Book' authors Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers are two English chefs who seem to carry a lot of weight in the community of writers on Italian Cuisine. They are one of the first employers of Jamie Oliver and were, I suspect, a strong influence on his style and choice of cuisine. In fact, Oliver is credited as a River Café chef in the Acknowledgments. Gray and Roger owe nothing to Oliver's current celebrity. Their reputation is firmly based on doing good Italian food before Jamie came to the limelight.
This is their second book, which I am reviewing after having reviewed their third, `Italian Easy' and I am doubly unhappy with myself that I have left Gray and Rogers unread for so long. Among celebrity restaurant cookbooks, these are distinctive in that they are all about the recipes. There are the usual lists of American suppliers and the usual glossary of ingredients which does nothing more than tell us how these ingredients are used at the River Café. There are few headnotes, no sidebars, very few tips on technique, and no endearing stories introducing the chapters. That is not to say there is nothing endearing about the book. The few personal comments by the authors, the photographs of the authors at work, and the overall design of the book conveys the strong sense that these are two people you would really like to know.
While I have not read the authors' first book, `Italian Country Cook Book', I sense all three books share a strong common philosophy which gives us exquisitely simple recipes based on classic Italian recipes and ingredients. This simplicity can be deceiving. There are virtually no tips on technique and few steps recommending you taste and season. Much of this is probably due to the natural saltiness of Italian ingredients such as the hard cheeses, anchovies, capers, cured hams, and salt cod. All this means is that a genuinely inexperienced chef may miss some very simple steps which an experienced home cook takes for granted, such as techniques for garlic in heated oil and pealing tomatoes.
The centerpiece of this book is recipes based on a large wood-fuelled oven installed at the River Café as part of a major renovation and expansion. Be assured that the way the `wood-roasted' recipes are written, they are entirely doable in your gas or electric oven at home.
Drinks chapter's primary feature is that most of the drink recipes use prosecco plus fresh fruit.
Second chapter on salads, frittatas, and other starters opens with the simple style that characterizes the whole book. The headnotes supply nothing except recommendations on which varieties of vegetable to use in each dish. There are some simple but unusual techniques in some of the recipes. One, for example, uses boiled lemon wedges in a salad with artichokes. Another novelty is a venison carpaccio salad. A great surprise for an Italian-themed dinner party. The frittatas are made with the simplest method of a quick turn in the oven after stovetop curdling of the eggs.
The chapter on pasta includes a basic fresh pasta recipe plus recipes for pasta verde, ravioli, and several recipes with fresh tagliatelle. Like new book, there are also several recipes for spaghetti, all exquisitely simple. The chapter also includes three recipes for wet polenta combined with porcini, truffles, and cavolo nero.
The risottos chapter has a good mix of recipes which are so simple, one wonders what all the fuss is about. The chapter on soups contains the usual mix of bean soups and some special treats with an arugula and potato soup, a salt cod soup which looks deliciously like Manhattan clam chowder and a wild fennel soup. The stock recipes are so simple, it makes you embarrassed not to make your own.
The wood-roasted vegetables chapter opens the way to caramelized beets, carrots, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, Swiss Chard, and lots of potatoes. Yum.
The `Vegetables in Padellla' chapter changes venues and presents the all the usual suspects in a wine braise.
The most interesting recipes among the fish and shellfish offerings are the wood-roasted methods that you can do in the bottom of your Hotpoint at home. The most unusual recipe may be the layered sardine sandwich. No bread makes an appearance in the ingredient list.
The chapter on meats, including pork, chicken, duck, and game opens with two spectacular recipes for doing a whole suckling pig and a slow roasted shoulder of pork. These are just the things for urban pig meat lovers who don't want to mess with barbecue. The other really unusual recipe is a combination of leftover pork and tuna.
The chapter on breads opens with a potato sourdough starter, something you may not see outside of a book on artisinal baking. Two recipes for sourdough bread follow this. The chapter has a recipe for pizza dough plus five (5) pizza recipes. There are some shortcuts I do not see in more detailed recipes. I pizza novice may want to go to Peter Reinhart's `American Pie' book on pizza to get an in depth look at pizza before tackling recipes at this level.
Chapter on sixteen (16) sauces has a lot more variety than you may see in more traditional Italian books.
Chapter on desserts has everything that is great about Italian baking, great simplicity and great taste, especially if you are familiar only with French and American pastry. It is truly amazing how simple some of the recipes for tortes and tarts and cakes can be.
The main blemish I find in this book is the loose way in which the authors do the translations of Italian names for dishes. Some are absent, some leave terms untranslated, and some translations even seem wrong.
Very highly recommended for great taste and great simplicity. Rogers and Gray are interpreting Italian cuisine in a dramatically simple and straightforward manner accessible to all amateur cooks.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excelllent Regional Italian Cooking 20 Dec 2000
By roger w. shoemaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being a cooking novice who loves eating and cooking Italian food and dishes, this book is a wonderful edition to anyones cook book collection. The pictures are scrumptious with most dishes easy to reproduce. I wanted this book ever since I saw Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray on a supplementry PBS program. I thought that they captured the essence of Italy's regional cooking and have obviously transfered this to the The Cafe Cookbook. Highly recommended!
120 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yuppie snapshots of (Italian) cuisine de bonne femme 2 Nov 1998
By Sean.Matthews@mpi-sb.mpg.de - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The sort of book that you might find inside a Le Creuset pot you've been given as a wedding present (it's even the same colour), and the sort of book that people over supplied with such pots, along with armouries of Sabatier knives, might reach for if they ever decide to hold a dinner party.
Question is, do I really need a full page recipe to tell me that fresh buttered pasta tastes great when generously scattered with white truffle shavings? (Like most of the recipes here, this comes with a full-page picture, in this case the standard `white truffle being shaved over pasta' pic that gets printed along with every magazine article about truffles). Or six sides of variations on a basic crespu?
Some of the recipes are oddly overspecific (presumably to maintain the ideologically pure `italian' flavour): On grounds of personal taste I disagree with the noodle recipe (which is fine, but, with much work, will produce noodles pretty much indistinguishable from good noodles bought from a shop, in which case why make them yourself?), but nevertheless think it is unnecessary to specify the flour be typo-00 (I think, I forget the technical designation for canonical italian noodle flour) - different flours, different noodles (I usually use ordinary strong plain flour supplemented with a quarter semolina, and eggs and yolks as available), but they all taste good given experience. Similarly, they specify `Chianti' for red wine for cooking: I challenge anyone to be able to distinguish reliably a random 10DM Chianti from any other young tannic red wines, after it's been cooked and reduced.
A few recipes look technically questionable. In their recipe for Girolles Provencal (they don't call it that, but that is what it is) with noodles, they don't tell you to disgorge the girolles first, which will result, I suspect, in either very rubbery, or *very* wet girolles.
Also this book is just a collection of disconnected recipes, but this sort of food is specifically not a collection of formal recipes, but an attitude of mind.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good stuff 11 Sep 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The recipes are wonderful, some of the photography is excellent. Its artsiness is a little overdone. Not all of the recipes are strictly affordable to the average bear, but when you can, this book provides everything you need to really get geeky with Italian cooking.
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