on 8 April 2010
This is an interesting book. Very pleasant to flick through as the photos are very beautiful and make you want to hold a posh dinner party straight away. A good book for people who wish to compete on "Come dine with me" and present dishes with a waow factor.
Quite a variety of ideas for dinner parties but I was annoyed at the fact that the recipes only gave American measurements in the recipes (no warning) for a book with a price in US and CAN $ but also in £ and euros (back cover) it should at least have included a metric version and temperatures in C, not only F, particularly so as the original book was published in French (so no additional work involved...). Also not mentioned is an indication of how long the recipes will take, of course this may vary from cook to cook but to have an idea is always useful for us mortals. There is an interesting basics section at the end of the book but for example while it includes a recipe for sweetened whipped cream (not sure I needed one), it does not include one for the (rich) vanilla ice cream needed in several recipes (much more interesting).I would also gladly have done without the recipe for chocolate mousse which takes 2 pages for 1 photo and 1 recipe (a welcome addition to the basics section maybe?) and prefered another splendid offering such as the Apple Tatin with Caramelised Cider Sauce or Chocolate Fondant cake with Earl Grey Tea Sauce, two great recipes that make the book worth buying for them alone. On the savoury front, I have tried the Hake with Pine Nut Chutney, the Vegetable Tartlets with Roasted Prawns, Shrimp Darioles and the Duck Breasts with Red Wine and Orange Sauce, quite nice.
So, as far as I am concerned, mixed feelings about that book -yes, I expected perfection from a book endorsed by Alain Ducasse even if the recipes have been simplified for the layman- but it is worth buying if you want to impress your guests with restaurant-like presentations and ideas. Beware though, some recipes are not that simple despite the book title and require a lot of ingredients (sometimes quite expensive ones too), but after all if you want to impress, it takes what it takes, doesn't it?