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4.8 out of 5 stars
23
4.8 out of 5 stars


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on 22 May 2015
I hesitated a lot before buying this book. The problem is that I'm quite an experienced cook, and have so many cookbooks that I long ago started weeding out the weaker ones and consigning them to the bin. I now have a hundred or so books that I regard as absolute classics - indispensible. The last thing I thought I wanted was another general cookbook. But, having made the decision to buy O'Connell's book, I don't regret it at all. This book is unique amongst the best general cookbooks. First, it is written by a dedicated individual with a mission to inform - rather than a team - always an advantage. Then, O'Connell is a highly skilled cook with chef and teaching experience over several years. Finally, because of the first two qualities, this book is brilliantly written and organised - and beautifully presented, yet practical with a tough binding and placemarker. When I say "beautifully presented" I don't mean a stunning photograph on every other page. In fact, some may find the number of illustrations inadequate - you can even find two or three successive recipes without a picture! What I am talking about is the whole.

The book is organised into 26 chapter. The chapters start with a couple of pages of different coloured paper with a summary paragraph and a complete list of all chapters so you know where you are in the context of the book as a whole. The chapters contain all you need to get going on the subject, plus recipes. The chapters necessarily vary considerably so I've chosen Casserole-roasting as a random example. The introductory text explains what this is and why it is used, followed by "Keys to success". This self-explanatory section is available in all relevant chapters and is one of the main reasons this book is so invaluable to experienced cooks. It summarises the things you may forget, and many you never knew. Then come the recipes. There are just six of these in this chapter, carefully chosen to highlight different ingredients and build awareness of how these can be used. The instructions are detailed and are littered with advice on coping with "situations" that may spoil the dish. Each recipe concludes with serving suggestions and cross-references where appropriate.

Some may think the number of recipes inadequate. If you are just starting out in cooking, you will certainly need more recipes. If this applies to you, I suggest you make this book your "Bible" for techniques and all matters to do with choosing and preparing food. For recipes, and lots more very sound advice and ideas, you need go no further than Ballymaloe Cookery Course by O'Connell's sister Darina Allen. The book has hundreds of recipes and variants and is organised using material from the famous Ballymaloe Course. Just these two books will get your cooking off to a flying start. On the Web, in particular, but also in many cookbooks, there are thousands of rotten recipes that could never work as described. As you build experience and know-how you will learn to recognise the duds and either ditch them or devise ways to make them work properly. This book oozes confidence and competence on every page. I expect to be cooking from it, referring to it, and simply enjoying reading it, for decades to come. It will do the same for you.
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on 3 January 2014
I,m so pleased with this purchase. I wish I,d come across this chap before now. Straightforward cooking, honest recipes and full of the kind of information every cook needs to deal with today's cooking. Just hits the spot for the modern cook but on the other hand lots of good solid stuff for the more traditional approach. I love the fact that the author explains the how and why of different techniques and methods without assuming that the reader is plain ignorant or knows it all. I couldn,t ask for a better companion in the kitchen, and I,ve even taken it to bed on several occasions.
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on 5 March 2017
I had the good fortune to attend the Ballymaloe Cookery School for their complete course. Rory really stood out as an aficionado of food and was, in my opinion, the most knowledgable and capable cook AND teacher at the school. He has a wonderfully gentle character and it really shines through in this book.

He breaks down recipes without it getting overdetailed and is a brilliant guide for beginners if they want to understand why and not just the how. He has a breadth of master recipes with slight twists on the theme so the reader can play around and experiment to their hearts content.

Rory has work in the best kitchens in the world and has decades of experience, but he remains a teacher at heart so all his recipes work and are thoroughly delicious. It's a fantastic book and I couldn't recommend it more highly. Consider coupling it with Darina Allen's (his sister btw) Ballymaloe Complete Cookery Course if you're starting out or wanting to hone your skills for classic home cooking (I rarely need any other books!).
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on 2 January 2014
What I love about this book is the amount I have learned from it. O'Connell takes time to explain things in easily understandable language. He also explains why things can go wrong.

This has become a reference book for me, if I am cooking something I go straight to the index and read the relevant piece in the book. If I was to ask for an improvement for the second edition, it would be for more photographs to go with the explanations. However as I said, it is so well written and is easy to follow. On recipes in the book, I recommend you try the roast chicken in a casserole dish to kick off. Enjoy!
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on 24 April 2015
I have shelves of cookbooks from Larousse Gastronomique to Delia - many of them I've hardly actually used! But this is a superbly user-friendly, well written book. The methods are described clearly and in great order ( so you're not half way through when you're told you should have done something else four steps ago!! A GREAT COOKBOOK that you'll use and use and LOVE the results!
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on 4 January 2017
Great book! Full of lovely recipes, ideas and "food for thought" (pun intended....sorry! :-P ).
The instructions are clear, well laid out and there are things to make in here from the very easy to the complex.
Very happy with this book.
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on 14 July 2015
I have a comprehensive collection of cookery books and usually do prefer a more visual book but this book is a MUST HAVE BOOK ! Rory O'Connell has a gift of taste combination and such a clarity to explain each recipe and so far everything I have cooked from this book has been exceptionally delicious,tender and tasty. Cooking to perfection. You can also watch Rory O'Connell explaining some of these recipes on you tube in a catch up of his television series also well worth a watch. This book looks a little boring but it is spectacular !
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on 6 February 2014
The book was informative and full of tips, but I regret taking it as a Kindle book as format is slightly hard to follow. I may go back and buy the paper edition and it is easier to follow in kitchen. Find I like to read it as a book rather than collection of recipes.
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on 22 September 2013
Excellent well written and very easy to follow Great reading and great for people starting off who have an interest in cooking

Excellent product from an excellent chef..
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on 27 March 2016
wonderful book
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