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on 6 May 2012
The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria

The Family Meal is a cookery book written in a refreshing style and set out in an unconventional format and all the better for it. Author Ferran Adria is one of the worlds greatest chefs and proprietor of the exclusive and best restaurant in the world el Bulii, however his step by step descriptions and pictorial layout in this book allow even the most inexperienced and knowledge deprived home cook to turn out superb meals using simple ingredients, this is a book I can see myself coming back to time and time again. Apart from the exciting content of the book, this being a PHAIDON publication the book is beautifully bound and printed on quality paper. Buy this book, read it, cook it's recipes and treasure it----you will be rewarded
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on 24 October 2011
I received this book a couple of days ago and was curious to open my parcel and go through the recipes.
The this that has surprised me most of all, and what I was not expecting at all, is a step-by-step recipes, in photos! That is definitely not the way I was expecting a "chef's" cookbook to be. I was prepared for huge glossy pictures and minimum of explanations. The kind of book you keep on your bookshelf for inspiration,not for cooking. This on will definitely spend some hours in the kitchen with me.
All the recipes are already grouped in meals, with a time planning on what to cook first to be on time for the dinner, a Sunday dinner, as I don't have 2-3 hours for cooking every day.
And the "cherry on the pie", there are ingredients given for 2 and 6-8 people. No need to re-calculate your ingredients for a dinner for two, or a family meal.
It is a book to keep in the kitchen, definitely!
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on 4 February 2013
I was very eager to see Ferran Adrià's take on home cooking, but sadly The Family Meal was way below expectations. The first impression was positive; the book seemed extremely well organized, thorough and the recipes were very detailed with numerous pictures outlining the process. Interestingly the book is organized as meals, which you of course can follow or just pick out dishes and make up your own menu.

The negative impressions hit me in the first main course recipe, which was a cheese burger. As a burger fanatic and perfectionist, I was eager to see Adrià's take on it, but this was the most simple, unadventorous recipe possible. It barely instructed how to make regular patties, and even adviced that they could purchased prepared! I was equally shocked to see there was no recipe for the burger buns, which are a critical ingredient to make the difference between a bland, generic burger and a good one. It was supposed to be served with chips, but as there was no recipe for them either, I suppose you can just buy a bag at a gas station.

There were other similar let downs; no recipe for the fries served with roast chicken. Potato mash made out of flakes! There were only a handful of truly exiting dishes, and even those were nothing new, you could easily google an identical recipe for any of them. In all honesty, if I want this type of food, I can search recipes online or make them up myself, I don't ned a cookbook by one of the best chefs in the world for this.

For more interesting home recipes, I'd reccomend Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home: Family-Style Recipes, or Two Dudes, One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen.
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on 23 September 2011
The first review sums the book up admirably. Like that reviewer, I am keen to develop my technical knowledge of the kitchen. The introduction contained an intriguing reference to the use of xanthan gum, and I've already experimented with that, with good results. Likewise, if the days weren't already cooler, I'd be keen to try the "watermelon and Hall's mentholyptus sweets" given as one of the dessert recipes...

The writing style and copious pictures, (laid out in a grid, step by step) are both excellent and very clear.

The book would probably make a good introduction to somebody with high ambitions but negligible experience. Being arranged as a series of simple 3 course meals, is novel and potentially useful, especially as most recipes are given in several "sizes" up to 75 servings, presumably the number of staff at El Bulli. Could be useful for anybody wanting to try their hand at catering for an event...

However, even on a cursory reading of the book, there are errors! From an author and a publisher of this calibre, this is inexcusable, particularly as large quantities of ingredients may be at stake...

1. The teriyaki sauce recipe "makes 1 kg" yet contains almost 2kg of wet & dry ingredients, with no reduction during cooking. So either the recipe is plain wrong, or you will indeed end up with 2kg of teriyaki sauce, which is likely to be a bit too much even for the most obsessive fan of teriyaki salmon...

2. The mackerel & potato stew recipe instructs you to use "half the stock" but makes no further mention of using the remainder

3. "Grating a tomato" is a fairly common step in many Spanish recipes, but you are first directed to faff around blanching & peeling the tomatoes. As I learned from another Spanish book years ago, you don't actually have to peel the tomato at all. The skin will end up spread across the grater, protecting your hand, as you shred the last little bits of flesh from the skin. I can't believe this is unknown to the great master ;-)

On the upside, it's nice to see chimichurri being promoted to a wider audience.

Also keen to see what HB comes up with shortly too...
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on 25 November 2011
Good book with easy to follow step by step recipes.
Have tried several and all have been really good and have come out as described in the book
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on 12 December 2011
Just as El Bulli, (the most iconic restaurant of recent times, located on the Costa Brava in northern Spain,) has closed its doors, chef-patron Ferran Adrià has released a new cookbook.
Ferran Adrià immediately summons thoughts of molecular gastronomy: his famous spherical olives which appear as jellied green blobs jiggling on a spoon but burst to fill the mouth with the flavor of intense olive juice. Or the frozen Gorgonzola balloon, a hollow white sphere, about eight inches across and the color of fresh ricotta, topped with a grate of nutmeg meant to be broken (with your fist?) and eaten in shards.
But it's not about 30-course menus and wondrous concoctions such as gorgonzola balloons or roses with ham wonton and melon water, which El Bulli is so famous for. Instead it's Adrià 's first home cooking book and it's all about simple, everyday menus that are easy and inexpensive to reproduce. The Family Meal is a collection of almost 100 recipes.
The recipes comprise a wide selection of everyday classics featuring numerous culinary influences reflecting the international nature of El Bulli's brigade. Menus include bread and garlic soup, Mexican-style slow-cooked pork and figs with cream and kirsch; or lime-marinated fish or ossobuco.
Highly recommended for the busy professional family who love to entertain and also the familys who are on a budget as all is caterered for.
You will return to this publication many many times and have your guest raveing about your creations and balanced menus " WOW" your a great chef....
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on 26 September 2011
The first two reviews have both hit the nail on the head with this book. And I am sure the reviewers like I did also read the description for the book. The mistakes are a plenty and while it feels like a book that's pitched at the more simple end of the menu for staff dinners it expects you to have cooked enough to pick up the holes in the recipes and have enough sense to spot the glaringly obvious mistakes.

Its not a pleasurable book to cook from, the recipes are less than inspiring. The menu plans are built around a commercial kitchen and like most staff dinners are designed to best utilise the by product and leftovers of the ingredients used for the menu of the restaurant.

Its an odd book, staff meals are clearly a gap in the cook book market... but is there a market in the gap?

My copy of The Family Meal has gone back to Amazon and fingers crossed that Heston's book will hit the mark when it arrives this week! :)
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on 22 June 2012
Ferran Adria's Family Meal is a truly great and very useful cookbook. It presents simple recipes prepared for the staff at the once world's best restaurant, El Bulli. The food offered for the kitchen staff is simple yet delicious and of good quality. Many recipes have only 3-4 ingredients and are fast to prepare. Some dishes require more advance planning, but this will be clearly highlighted in the preparation timeline for each meal. Cooking with this book is made even simpler by very clear step-by-step pictures of the different phases. I have already cooked over 20 recipes from the book. My favourites are whitting in salsa verde, the pesto, watermelon with menthol, grilled lettuce hearts and mexican rice. All recipes are presented for 2,6, 20 or 60 people, which makes it easy to prepare a meal to different occasions. I only wish the recipes would present internal cooking temperatures instead of cooking times as I feel that some of the recipes tend to overcook the meat or the fish.
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on 11 January 2013
It is one of the best kitchen books I have seen for home cooking.
There are not weird Bulli dishes here. As the title says, it is a Family cooking book. It is really cool how a professional kitchen tricks are explained to the home cook.
It is really good to improve the basics and the meals selections are really interesting. It is really well explained with plenty of pictures.
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on 30 September 2011
Having read some of the reviews in the newspapers I still wasn't sure what to expect from The Family Meal, but at the price I thought I'd take a gamble. Not having a huge kitchen or one that's very modern, I was a little worried I'd have to spend my money on gadgets rather than good ingredients.
I was wrong of course. What you have in this book are very economical, reasonably easy but very tasty recipes to suit many different styles, tastes and moods.
I think the key as far as what to expect from the book is in the description that Amazon has provided. The recipes do still carry a whiff of the pazzaz about them tho, anything would when created by a man of Ferran's talents?
It's an El Bulli book, its got great recipes and its less than £20...and he isn't even on the telly :)
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