Completely great, just like her other books, but for slightly different reasons. Gyngell is a restaurant chef and sometimes her dishes are slightly too complicated for (my) normal everyday cooking. Consequently I don't end up cooking from her other books as much as I'd like. This book aims to plug that gap, with sections on the ordinary day : breakfast, sunday lunch, outdoor food, afternoon tea, simple weekday dinners, late night suppers and special occasions.
Some readers get annoyed with recipe books that offer them yet another recipe for ratatouille / dauphinoise / scrambled egg / marmalade, saying "I already know how to make that, offer me something new". They think that means they have wasted their money. I am in the other camp, absolutely delighting when a great chef offers me their own take on a familiar recipe, so I can see how they interpret and make it their own.
If you are in the former group, this book might be best avoided, as it does definitely err on the side of simple dishes (though there are some DELICIOUS original things like Creme Caramel with Ximenez sherry, for example, that you still might not be able to live without). On the other hand, if you are like me you will delight in this book. Enjoy being reminded to cook shortbread, or how to make the best ever potato salad, corn on the cob, or bread and butter pudding. Gyngell is a great and creative chef and her tips alone are worth having, let alone the actual recipes.
If I have any criticisms at all its that I could have lived without the rather glib non-recipe bits which I suspect have been written to her publisher's orders to make it more supermarket friendly or something - "Cutlery and crockery need not be matching - sometimes they are more charming if they are not", etc.
Panzanella, steak and mashed potato, tomato salad, baked vacherin, citrus tart, cucumber sandwiches, meringues, roast chicken, christmas pud and bouillabaisse - tons of usable recipes. A book which will be splashed with food within weeks: high recommendation.
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.
on 23 November 2010
I'll start by admitting I have never come across Skye Gyngell before, but now that i have read and tested out some of her recipes and ideas in 'How I Cook', I will most definetly be looking out for more of her work.
'How I Cook' is a beautifully illustrated (though not every recipe is pictured), intelligently written, and highly inspirational cook book, which goes beyond the ubiquitous formula of listing starters, mains and puds. Instead, Skye offers her own personal ideas for menus, for every occasion. Not didactic in any way - if any of the menu she describes might not suit your tastes, there are suggestions for alternatives.
Recipes range from the simple Parsnip Puree to the more complex Belly Pork. Clever hints and tips abound within recipes for delights such as Shortbread (I love the illustration showing how to cut up the mixture), and Cucumber sandwiches (de-skinning, de-seeding and salting the cucumber).
There is something in here for all occasions, all tastes and all abilities. Despite lacking a few photographs for some dishes, I had to give this delightful and delicious book 5*. Highly recommended.
This is the third of Skye Gyngell's books. This one offers up a series of menus to suit various occasions e.g. alfresco meals, Sunday lunch, weekday dinners and special occasions. By way of example, Sunday lunch suggestions includes roast chicken with anchovy butter, grilled corn on the cob, ratatouille & new potatoes, followed by lemon pudding or rabbit with endive & pancetta served with purée of parsnips and pan-fried girolles, followed by date & sherry ice cream. Then there is slow cooked pork belly with a fabulous white bean gratin.
The alfresco suggestions include roasted quail with red peppers & tomatoes, and a lovely dish of grilled aubergines with mint and basil, followed by meringues with strawberries & cream. Or perhaps roasted sea bass with lemon & thyme, served with roast fennel, green beans and roasted tomatoes appeals, with its mint ice-cream for dessert. There is a late night meal suggestion of bagna cauda, gnudi with sage butter followed by roast persimmons although this could just as easily be served as lunch or dinner.
You obviously don't need to follow the menus in their entirety, and can take recipes at will. I like the Italian-style Easter cake (made with risotto rice rather than flour), the Earl Grey sorbet and the lemon sorbet with crushed mint, and also the very simple to make blackberry crisp.
For the most part the recipes are straightforward although occasionally there are more complicated elements e.g. the preparation of lobsters. There are times too when the recipes are overly complicated for no good reason. For instance, I am never going to grate butter into a pan to prepare scrambled eggs: given that the butter is melted it won't matter whether it melts as gratings or as a block. The book loses a star for me because there are recipes for things for which I already have umpteen recipes (or which are so straightforward that a recipe is barely required) such as ratatouille, roast chicken, rice pudding, glazed carrots, bread & butter pudding, pancakes, trifle & even cucumber sandwiches.
on 8 February 2011
I'll be honest and say I didn't know a lot about Skye Gyngell a few weeks ago; I knew the name, but that was about it. Then this year's Michelin Guide was released and her cafe-restaurant Petersham Nurseries in Richmond was awarded its first star. The regard for the coveted accolade may not be as high as it once was, but there's no denying that when a new star is awarded, it's worth paying attention.
How I Cook is not about Skye's work at Petersham Nurseries, rather it intends to be an insight into what the award-winning chef and food writer cooks at home for her friends and family.
My first impression of How I Cook was that it is a beautiful and classic-looking recipe book. The hue reminded me of recipe books my mum had when I was a child, as if it was from another era, and not in a bad way - it's simply not a modern, in-your-face, look-how-exciting-cooking-can-be book. It's understated. The arrangement of the recipes only added to this nostalgia, with categories including afternoon tea, Sunday lunches and special occasions such as Easter, suddenly I was transported back to an age of innocence, enjoying afternoon tea in the garden at my Grandma's house.
While I thought the book looked beautiful, I wasn't immediately struck by the recipes. And the funny thing now is, having spent some time cooking the dishes, I honestly couldn't stop. At first glance, the layout of recipes could be off-putting to some readers, because they are presented as meal ideas, for example Rabbit with endive and pancetta, puree of parsnips and pan-fried griolles, and if you don't like one element (for me the mushrooms, plus I had to Google endives) you can be tempted to skip right over it. What I like though, is that on closer inspection the meal is broken up, with separate instructions for each element, allowing you to mix and match sides and meats as you wish; this combination is just Skye's suggestion based on flavours and seasonality.
Another touch I appreciated is that a lot of the recipes have a little note with them. Some explain a technique, such as cooking the Creme Caramel in a `bain-marie (literally a water basin) to protect a delicate dish from direct intense heat'; others offers welcome advice,`don't be disheartened if the mayonnaise begins to curdle, as this has happened to me from time to time' followed by directions on how to fix it; and others simple serving suggestions, such as pagnotta with the Bouillabaisse. All these are little personal touches which make the reader feel less like they're being talked at and are on their own in the cooking process.
With dishes such as Poached langoustines with green goddess dressing, roasted caramelised peaches, shoulder of lamb with sweet paprika and chickpeas, Blackberry and raspberry trifle, Sodabread - I could go on and on - there really is something for every occasion and every budget and with such a varied combination, it's clear this is unashamedly a collection of dishes Skye simply enjoys and wanted to share.
After spending far too long salivating as I turned page after page, I've managed to cook four recipes so far. My experiences of cooking these were mixed, but the fact that I am stopping in the middle of this to mark a page each time I come across yet another recipe I want to try, as well as already having a fridge full of ingredients for sodabread, slow roasted tomatoes and rich chocolate pots shows just how much I am enjoying Skye Gyngell's How I Cook. The cover describes it as `an inspiring collection of recipes' and given my growing shopping list, an inspiration is exactly what it is.
on 2 May 2011
I was attracted to this book as I cook daily, but I'm always looking for some new, interesting takes on old favourites. I was initially dissapointed as there is not a picture of every recipe, which tends to be how I decide what to cook next. Flicking through the recipes they tended to be on the more indulgent side of home cooking. However my issue is with the pages which are taken up with non-recipes (perfect cucumber sandwiches, really?!. I don't really feel this book adds a lot to my cooking repertoire, and while it's a nice book to flick through, it doesn't have enough to set it apart to become a favourite in my kitchen.
on 4 February 2011
I'm ashamed to say I've never heard of the super talented, Skye Gyngell but I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to review her book and for that I'm very grateful. Gyngell is an award winning chef and food writer and in her book 'How I Cook', she reveals to the masses how she cooks for her friends and family.
The book is split into different menus, demonstrating meals for all seasons and all occasions. There's even a 'Time To Spare' section for when you get a bit of time to indulge yourself. For inexperienced cooks such as myself, I found this was a great book for entertaining as much as it was as a day-to-day cookery guide. Gyngell has designed each meal suggestion with a main, any accompaniments and a desert that all compliment each other and marry together well. It's not just food that she mentions either as the introduction describes tips for table decoration and crockery recommendations and throughout the book she offers alternatives to elements of her recipes which is helpful.
The thing I found most refreshing was her attitude to food. All too many books these days are about low fat options and make the reader feel guilty and conscious. I'm relieved to say that Gyngell has the same healthy attitude to food as my family where we see food as an expression of love and enjoyment with our family and friends rather than the robotic task of eating it for function and practicality. 'Everything in moderation' is my mantra and it seems to be hers!
The dish that caught my eye immediately was the Slow Cooked Belly Pork. I have a major weakness for pork crackling and the photographs by Jason Lowe made it look just as good as it does in real life. It was the first dish I marked out with one of the three ribbon page markers provided. I loved this little touch because I always end up tearing up scraps of paper to mark out the recipes I want to try when there's no bookmark attached! Great thinking Skye :) With spring just around the corner I'm desperate to sit in the garden with a glass of Strawberry and Rhubarb cordial. Even the suggestion of this recipe makes me feel refreshed and sun kissed.
All in all, a great and very well organised book. It's a joy to read and use and I look forward to testing more of her recipes soon. My tummy is rumbling right now just thinking about it!
on 29 January 2011
I enjoyed reading Skye Gyngell's "How I Cook" (Quadrille Publishing). It is a beautifully illustrated, well thought-out book, targeting towards making a simple family meal a memorable one. The refreshing thing about this book is that it doesn't fall into the trap of being a yet another catalogue of recipes.
The book has a relaxed, laid back summer afternoon feel. This is the kind of book you would refer to when you are not in a rush and would really want to enjoy your food with family and friends. Many of the recipes are delightfully simple and yet remarkable in their outcome. I tried her recipe for the roasted Sea bass with lemon and thyme. It took me only a few minutes to put together and it turned out beautifully. This book is also very suitable if you are cooking for any occasion or for someone special.
The book is categorised according to different themes and occasions like `Sunday lunch', `Late night supper', `Time to spare' etc. Each of these sections has recipes for all three courses so that you don't have to look elsewhere to see what starter will go with the mains you are making. The book has a wide spectrum of recipes most of them are complimented with lovely photographs by Jason Lowe. It covers from very simple recipes like cucumber sandwich to as complicated as slow cooked lamb shoulder. Along with the traditional recipes you will also find some not so widely known like Pashka (I loved the suggestion she made for this particular recipe. Read the book to find out! ). If you like spicy food like I do, then you will love her recipe for Rouile. It is simple but with absolutely delicious end product.
I have about 15 recipes which I cook regularly.
In my repetoire I have Mary Berry's Leek and Potato Soup (actually Vichyssoise served hot) and one of Jamie's casseroles. We all love Silvana Franco's Chocolate Meringues and Donna Hay's Thai Caramelised Pork Salad (which we also eat hot!).
It may be the same with you. Just a few old favourites which everyone is always pleased to see on the table when they sit down to eat.
Well, Skye's book has 3 or 4 clever twists on family favourites which I will definitely incorporate into my well-thumbed recipe file, like the buttery recipe for scrambled egg (who knew you could improve on such an old staple?). And she has another 5 or 6 completely new recipes which are very likely to push some of my present repetoire off the "regularly made at home" podium.
When a cookery book gives me more than 3 or 4 new favourites I'm very impressed - so this book has really impressed me.
As usual, there are some recipes which I'll never cook like quail or rabbit but generally the recipes are made up from ingredients which any home cook always has in the kitchen - cream, eggs, flour, chicken, leeks, caster sugar and strawberries etc and the flavours are simple and uncomplicated and above all, fresh.
I'm really looking forward to making Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Old-fashioned pancakes with maple syrup, Poached Egg & Ham, Easy Roast Chicken, Creme Caramel, Rich Chocolate Pots, Roasted Caramelised Peaches, Roasted Red Peppers and Tomatoes (a little like Delia's Piedmont Peppers but even easier - if that's possible) and I'll definitely be borrowing my friend's ice-cream maker as there are 3 new flavours for ice-cream and sorbet that I must try.
Oh - and did I mention that it's a lovely read. Just as one of the other reviewers said, this is a book which you can take to bed and read. Much like Nigella's Domestic Goddess, this is a delicious read in its own right.
Over to my wife for this review.
We have had the rather expensive pleasure of dining at Skye Gyngell's garden restaurant at Petersham Nurseries, where the food was good, fresh and wholly organic. I feared that this cookery book might require a lot of unusual ingredients that would be difficult to source, but not at all. Apart from her gentle request at the beginning of the book "Please use sea salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs. Choose organic free-range eggs...." the recipes are very accessible for anyone in reach of a decent supermarket, a good butcher and some plant pots for herbs.
The book is divided into meal types: Breakfast, Late Night Supper, Alfresco Eating etc. with some enticing menu ideas. I like the emphasis on enjoying the food with friends and family rather than cooking to impress. Crying Lamb and Slow Cooked Belly of Pork are two of the recipes I look forward to trying: nothing revolutionary here but they look yummy in the photos.
The recipes are interspersed with short hints and tips explaining some of the Whys and Why Nots of cooking. I shall now be heating my milk/creme fraiche/butter before adding to potato mash - apparently it is sloshing them in cold that creates lumps.
One small detail I liked is that the book has not just one but two integral ribbons for marking your place when you are cooking the dishes. This is a recipe book that will happily merit a place on my groaning kitchen shelf.