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4.2 out of 5 stars27
4.2 out of 5 stars
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Skye Gyngell is the chef at Petersham Café, a heavenly café-restaurant in the middle of Petersham Nurseries. In the old greenhouses, surrounded by plants, flowers and many a ravishing household accessory, you will eat simple but exquisitely prepared food.

`A year in my kitchen', Skye's first book, is a real labour of love written with great warmth, thoughtfulness and a serious concern for the seasons. Feeding friends - or customers - is in part about the right attitude; a `generosity of spirit', so she positively encourages us to put our hearts and souls into our cooking.

The basis of her recipes is her `culinary toolbox', a range of flavours that are the starting point for her dishes. The toolbox is based on `sky and earth' flavours that range from leafy green herbs, citrus zest and vinaigrettes (sky) to the earth-bound, woody herbs, toasted nuts or roast spices that add depth to winter meals. Trust me, it does make sense once you have read her explanation and it is far less airy-fairy than it sounds.

Truly a treasure to be absorbed and used throughout the year, "A year in my kitchen" focuses on choosing fresh seasonal produce and preparing it with flair and individuality. It will excite and inspire you and - should you feel the need - put the passion back into your cooking. It will also leave you itching to get in the kitchen to try Skye's ideas.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2006
Although I have not tried many recipes from this book as yet all those I have tried have worked and been wonderful. This book is a delight to read and Skye's prose is quite inspirational. She tends to compose simple recipes with a careful use of sweet, sour salty etc and the end result is very good indeed. I hope to use this cook book a lot, however, some of the recipes are prohibitive in terms of the ingredients. There are nevertheless many ideas that I hope will make it into my kitchen. Great book.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2007
This is probably the most beautiful cookery book ever written.

I have a feeling that this book was not written for profit. This book is a mere result of her love for seasons, the gardens in Nurseries, natural ingredients from the mother nature, and the food to put a smile on your face.

I always feel that Australian cooks understand the essence of Oriental cuisine very well - the importance of contrasting textures in a dish, and the importance of balance in saltiness/ sweetness/ sourness/ bitterness/ spiciness/ umami in flavour. I think they excel at throwing this essence into European dishes to come up with something outstanding.

As below reviewers already mentioned, this book is not for beginners (if you are, go for "The First-Time Cook" by Sophie Grigson. A great book. Fun to read too), and some ingredients are hard to get if you live far away from big cities (well, but, looking at he sunny side of life, you stand far greater a chance to be able to pick wild garlic).

Having said that, this book is brilliant just to have on the bed side. The pictures are so wonderful and it is a sheer joy just to look at them. It makes you feel the world is still a nice place, and there is something you can look forward to making for lunch at the next weekend.

I am going to the Cafe in Petersham Nurseries one day soon!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2009
I thought this would be an interesting cook book as the premise is that it concentrates on cooking with the produce of the seasons. Something I am quite keen to get into. It is a really beautiful book with dreamy, misty photographs and is beautifully put together. Recipe-wise though, it really is more appropriate for the professional cook running a large kitchen as the recipes require you to use components from a previously prepared 'storecupboard'. These are pickled ingredients, flavoured oils, etc, all prepared in large quantities but to be used within days or weeks!

It is a beautiful book to have around the kitchen or to give as a gift, but, practically, there are few recipes I could see myself settling down to make. The recipes are quite complicated and involved but obviously created with love and enthusiasm by the author herself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2014
I'm a really experienced cook and enjoy using a wide range of cookery books. I decided to make Baked blackberry and stem ginger pudding for Sunday lunch. Quite fiddly to make but I was optimistic until I turned the individual puddings out to find no pool of syrup surrounding them. I thought perhaps I had made a mistake but. when you compare the recipe and the picture it is obvious that 1 tbsp of syrup could never give the pool in the photo. In fact I had added more than the recipe said and there was nothing to see when cooked. The pudding was lovely but not what I expected and that makes me doubt the quality of testing and wondering if it is worth trying others. This disappointment rarely happens with other writers and I felt rather let down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2010
Impressive visuals, wonderful paper on which the book is printed, inspired and engaging recipes that seem to come from the heart of a true love of cooking and all the joys of creativity therein. Almost impossible not to be inspired, engaged and motivated. I bought x4 copies for various 2009 Christmas presents and even still, despite it's being published over 3 years ago, it was a warmly appreciated gift that delighted the food-interested recipients. A pleasure to read and to learn from.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2010
Some thought-provoking muses from a wonderful cook on getting the best from local, seasonal produce and some very good recipes. As yet, only a few tried, but really well-balanced, many inspired. Not a flashy production number, but quietly thoughtful and straightforward guide. Like the food at her place in Petersham Nurseries, I find myself going back for more.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2011
I sometimes feel like I must be taking crazy pills where Skye Gyngell is concerned. There's nothing wrong with this book, it's fine; just as her restaurant is fine (if outrageously overpriced), but the adulation baffles me.

The constant references to 'her' food become wearing, when many of the recipes are simple French and Italian classics, and many more are the type of simple ingredient assemblies that one could find in any Jamie Oliver book.

Her recipe for 'Panade of slow-cooked onions with Gruyere' differs from French onion soup only in so far as the bread is on the bottom instead of the top; no real problem there, except she accompanies the recipe with the following note:

'To appreciate the nature of any dish - its subtleties and complexities - you really need to have cooked it several times. It is only then that will you (sic) understand its very heart'.

Possibly the most pompous statement you'll ever find in a modern recipe book, and by no means a one off in this self-regarding and (to me at least)uninspiring book.
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on 5 February 2014
It took me ages to decide whether or not to buy this book - unfortunately I find Ms Gyngell's writing style slightly irksome (am I alone in finding her language a little self-obsessed? Possibly.) Moreover there is an element of fussiness in her cooking (always peel celery? Really?)
However, these are somewhat personal observations and I found that once I got past those initial reservations, the food was a revelation. This woman has an incredible understanding of flavour and the recipes are perfectly balanced. There is one recipe in this book, for Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup, which is nothing short of perfect. If you were to subtract or add a single element, that fine balance would be lost. And it is this which epitomises the recipes in this book: beautifully crafted, sublime and an absolute delight.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2008
I'm not a beginner by far, but even I find it a bit too much, if I have to prepare toolbox ingredients first, before I can actually start to cook. Apart from that, the book is very beautifully laid out and contains some nice recipes and a lot more that sound interesting, so if you've got some time to spend in the kitchen, the book is certainly worth having. I'm probably not going to use it on a large scale, since I'm working and haven't got that much time (bit of a pity).
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