When buying cookery books, I think you have to look past who is writing them and actually judge the recipes for themselves. Obviously a celebrity name sells books, and I have bought a few of Gordon Ramsay's books before. Recipes from a 3 Star Chef Limited Edition for example was way beyond my level of skill with each dish requiring probably several hours of preparation, while Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy Recipes featured much simpler recipes and was therefore far more useful to me. This latest book, to accompany the TV series currently being shown on Channel 4 in September 2012 (watch clips online via the Channel 4 website), features recipes that are relatively simple to make and offers bits of very good general advice. Regardless of whether this book was written by Gordon Ramsay or anyone else, I would rate it very highly. If you're highly skilled in the kitchen, you might regard this book as a little too simplistic perhaps (although everyone can always learn new things no matter how experienced you are), but for most people they will be able to pick up a few useful techniques and recipes. Like most Gordon Ramsay books, it guides you on basic equipment and utensils that you will need, as well as giving instructions on making simple, fundamental things.
One of the best features of this book for me is that it covers such a wide variety of dishes. A lot of cookbooks focus on one particular type of food, be it fish, meat, pastry or whatever else, but there is a wide enough variety of recipes here to keep most people happy I would think. There are well over 100 recipes in a pretty thick book. A slight downside is that not all of the recipes have accompanying photographs, which could be a problem if you're looking for visual vindication of what you're cooking, but the instructions are straightforward and easy to follow so it's not a big problem. The vast majority of recipes do have photographs. A lot of the recipes contain instructions on how to use herbs/spices/chillis in the best way to produce the most flavour, which is a key theme through the book. Therefore if you're looking for ways to cook food full of flavour using relatively simple techniques that may not be obvious, this is the biggest strength of this book and the main reason that I would highly recommend it.
Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course accompanies the televison series currently being shown on Channel Four each teatime, yes the program is a rip-off of the wonderful Jamie's 30-Minute Meals, but that doesn't really matter in my opinion.
At the time of writing this review the show has only been on for one week (five epsiodes) but it has already grabbed my attention and I fully intend to see it through to the end!
I've actually had the book about a fortnight now, so had already started using it before the show first televised.
It's a lovely big book, 320 pages to be exact, and it is full of beautifully photographed food and the odd shot of Gordon, good if that sort of thing rocks your gravy boat!
The book starts with an introduction to the basics of a kitchen and has some useful information on how to get the best out of Knifes, Pans, a Blowtorch, Digital Scales, Food Processors, Free-Standing or Stick Blenders, Ice Cream Makers, Mandolines, Microplane Zesters, a Pestle and Mortar, a Potato Ricer, Probe Thermometers, Sieves, Vegetable Peelers and Whisks; there is even a well written descripton of how best to cut an onion.
We then move on to the recipes, 123 to be exact, and they are split into themed chapters:
1. Classics with a twist - 13 recipes
2. Fish - 12 recipes
3. Meat - 12 recipes
4. Spices - 14 recipes
5. Good Food for Less - 15 recipes
6. Cooking in Advance - 12 recipes
7. Cooking for Crowds - 13 recipes
8. Baking - 13 recipes
9. Basic Skills - 9 recipes
The instructions are clear, concise and easy to follow; most have a beautifully photographed example of the final result you're aiming for, but unfortunately not all recipes have this and its a disappointment, albeit a relatively minor one.
We have already been pretty busy making some of the dishes, so far we've had the beautiful Stuffed Roast Chicken (with chirizo and cannellini beans), the amazing Slow-cooked fiery lamb (melt in the mouth, but REALLY hot), and my personal favourites, the Chilli beef lettuce wraps (these are one of the best things I have eaten for ages!).
This weekend we're trying the Fish Pie, and if all goes well my fiance will be baking the Lemon polenta cake at some point later on next week!
This book is primarily aimed at the day to day cook in my opinion, its style and content are realistic and achievable, and most of the recipes should cause no problems for anyone with average skills in the kitchen.
At the same time though I would say that this book would be a good start for a beginner, and also has enough inside to offer inspiration to the more experienced cook.
Overall a really good book, the best I've seen from Gordon Ramsey to date in fact, it has loads of really appealing recipes that will provide something new for your table but won't necessarily break the bank in the process!
on 31 August 2012
I can't watch Gordon Ramsay on the tv, for a variety of reasons, but I'll be the first to admit the man can cook. I don't really like 'chefy' books as I find you look at them enthusiasticaly but don't cook from them very often. I like the Nigel Slater, Hugh Fearnly approach. Simple, quick, tasty. This is the first Ramsay book I have bought because that's what this is. As Ramsay says in the introduction this isn't a book of recipes which require you to refer to four other recipes just to make the ingredients you will need before you even start making the thing you want. I can see me picking this book up a lot. I made the first recipe last night, roast cod with lemon, walnut and parmesan crust, and it's exactly the kind of thing I'm after. This isn't a dinner party book, it's more an everyday book, and in that respect I would thoroughly recommend it.
on 11 August 2013
I'd like to mention that the ULTIMATE COOKERY COURSE and HOME COOKING books from Gordon Ramsay are almost the same book! The second book is in fact an adaptation for the US market.
This review is in fact NOT a review or an evaluation of the books. It's only showing the numerous but minor differences between them:
- the first book is the original book published for the UK market (august 2012), the other is an adpatation for the US (april 2013)
- their covers are slightly different but images, texts, page layout, recipes are EXACTLY identical. There is even a matching page to page
- the original uses metric measures (grams, millilitres, cm), the adaptation uses imperial measures (cups, ounces, pounds, inches). Both use tsp and tbsp for small quantities
- the original uses °Centigrade with gas level, the other °Fahrenheit: 200°C/Gas 6 becomes 400°F
- some ingredients are named/translated differently: double cream becomes heavy cream, caster sugar becomes sugar, spring onions become scallions, pak choi becomes bok choy, coriander becomes cilantro, kale becomes swiss chard, plain flour becomes all-purpose flour, fillet of beef becomes beef tenderloin, tenderstem broccoli becomes baby broccoli, chillies becomes chiles, cep mushrooms become porcini, demerara sugar becomes brown sugar, courgette becomes zucchini, cornflour becomes cornstarch, icing sugar becomes confectioner's sugar, bicarbonate of soda becomes baking soda, biscuits becomes cookies, pudding rice becomes short-grain white rice, etc.
- material is named/translated differently: roasting tray becomes roasting pan, cling film becomes plastic film, hob becomes stovetop, fish slice becomes fish spatula, square tin lined becomes square pan lined, proof paper becomes wax paper, tins become cans, muslin becomes cheese cloth, heavy-based pan becomes heavy-bottomed pan, griddle pan becomes grill pan, grill becomes broiler, etc.
- techniques are named/translated differently: fry becomes sauté, etc.
- also: flavoursome becomes flavorful, navarin of lamb becomes lamb stew, Arabic restaurants becomes middle Eastern restaurants, scum becomes foam, popular fish becomes overfish fish, etc.
- the converted quantities in the adaptation are approximative and not always well rounded: 400g asparagus becomes 1 lb, 50 mL sherry vinegar in a vinaigrette becomes 1/4 cup, and probably most conversions of ingredients in metric measurements to cups, etc.
- the adaptation brings sometimes nice but little corrections in the codification of the recipes
- the adaptation has more entries in its index
If you ask me which version I prefer ? Not easy to say! Probably the original one with the exact original metric measures. But it's a matter of taste ...
I would class myself as a keen cook (cooking is my favourite hobby and passion), but I like to own a variety of books from those that are meant to cover the basics with hints and tips (like this one), and others that inspire and you can dedicate weeks to preparing for recipes (like Gordon’s 3 Star Chef book which I also own and love).
The book is split into 10 recipe sections:
Classics with a twist
Good Food for Less
Cooking in Advance (my favourite section)
Cooking for one or two
Cooking for Crowds
I have posted a full recipe list at the end of this review, but all in all for my tastes there is a great selection of recipes and they are tasty to boot.
But if I am to be very critical, having used the book and comparing it to others that I own on a similar subject, I do have a couple of niggles that have to knock off a star for me. Firstly some recipes are without an image, for a book of this size I find this a little annoying as I really do think an image is a big part of helping you understand what you’re aiming for whenever you’re cooking a dish. And secondly, I have to conclude the book just isn’t as in depth as I had expected and hoped for; Gordon’s introduction about kitchen kit and ‘how to chop an onion’ don’t feel so well thought out comparative to other books such as Jamie Oliver’s ‘Cook with Jamie’ or Richard Corrigon’s ‘Cookery School’ both of which I prefer to get cookery techniques and tips from.
I did not watch the accompanying TV series so perhaps that’s why I am struggling with this as a standalone book to see how this could be considered a ‘course’ type book.
That said, the reason I like this book is the recipes; I still find inspiration, but just not in the ‘course’ like manner that I thought I would whereby I can see myself progressing. There are a few tips throughout but no more than other standard cook books that I own. But all in all if you are a fan of Gordon as I am, you will inevitably like this book. If looking for a book to learn and develop from, there are better alternatives out there.
Classics with a Twist
Pasta with tomatoes, anchovy and chillies
Bacon, pea and goat's cheese frittata
Stuffed roast chicken
Slow-cooked fiery lamb
Chicken and autumn vegetable pies
Lemon curd treacle tart
Coconut pancakes with mango slices and lime syrup
Roasted cod with a walnut, lemon and Parmesan crust
Pan-fried scallops with crunchy apple salad
Chilli and spice whitebait
Grilled seafood with sweet pepper sauce
Roasted mackerel with garlic and paprika
Crab and mascarpone crêpes
Sea bream with tomato and herb salsa
Sea bass with fennel, lemon and capers
Red mullet with sweet chilli sauce
Mussels with celery and chilli
Pork chops with peppers
Sichuan chicken thighs
Pan-fried duck breasts with blackcurrant sauce
Smoky pork sliders with barbecue sauce
Chicken with garlic and chestnut stuffing
Pork stuffed with Manchego and membrillo
Easy bollito misto
Slow-braised stuffed lamb breast
Chicken and chicory in Marsala sauce
Beef brisket with new potato piccalilli salad
Roast guinea fowl with apple
Curry-spiced sweetcorn soup
Grilled corn with chipotle chilli butter
Roasted squash houmous
Noodles with chilli, ginger and lemongrass
Spicy beef salad
Vietnamese-style beef baguette
Sichuan dan dan noodles
Shawarma spiced chicken wraps
Chilli beef lettuce wraps
Pork neck curry with mango salsa
Chocolate mousse with chilli and mango
Fragrant spiced rice pudding
Good Food for Less
Spicy black beans with feta and avocado
North African eggs
Chicken stir-fry with rice noodles
Leek and gruyère rosti with fried eggs
Spaghetti with chilli, sardines and oregano
Easy fragrant fried rice
Cheat's soufflé with three cheeses
Lamb with fried bread
Spicy sausage rice
Pork and prawn meatballs in aromatic broth
Chickpea, cumin and spinach koftas with tahini dressing
Charentais melon and crème fraîche
Bread and butter pudding
Cooking in Advance
Spicy meatball soup
Beef meatballs with orecchiette, kale and pine nuts
Meatballs in fragrant coconut broth
Beef meatball sandwich with melting mozzarella and tomato salsa
Slow-roasted pork belly with fennel
Coriander, ginger and chilli butter chicken
Moroccan lamb with sweet potato and raisins
Slow-cooked beef with orange gremolata
Slow-cooked beef short ribs
Caramelised figs with ricotta
Cooking For One or Two
Bruschette with garlic, tomatoes, caper berries and pecorino
Cannellini bean crostini with anchovy and olives
Farfalle with ricotta, pancetta and peas
Flatbreads with fennel and feta
Sweetcorn fritters and yoghurt dip
Mushroom and leek pasta
Tagliatelle with quick sausage-meat bolognese
Spicy tuna fishcakes
Beef tacos with wasabi mayo
Griddled pineapple with spiced caramel
Blueberry and ricotta pancakes with yoghurt and honey
Cooking for Crowds
Green papaya salad
Roasted red pepper, lentil and herb salad
Green bean salad with mustard dressing
Fresh prawn rolls
Sticky pork ribs
Stuffed lamb with spinach and pine nuts
Roast sirloin of beef
Poached winter fruits with zabaglione
Apricot and frangipane tart
Olive, tomato and rosemary focaccia
Mozzarella and rosemary pizza
Leek and pancetta quiche
Easy chicken pastilla
Flatbreads with lemon thyme ricotta
Fresh ginger sponge cake
Lemon polenta cake
Lemon thyme shortbread
Indulgent mini chocolate tarts with peanut brittle
Malt chocolate doughnuts
St Clement's soufflés
Noodle soup with poached egg
Macaroni and cauliflower bake with three cheeses
Prawn and feta omelette
Spiced lentil soup
Roasted red onion vinaigrette with green bean salad
Fritto misto with garlic and saffron mayonnaise
Asparagus with lemon and tarragon hollandaise
Lemongrass custard cups
on 4 November 2012
This is the book I've been looking for. Great tips and techniques on how to cook simple and glorious dishes. I think it's worth every penny. Highly recommend this to anyone who wants to start cooking simple dishes with great flavor.
on 10 October 2012
This book is wonderful!!! I have made so many of the recipes so far....I cooked the stuff chicken last night (way too much stuffing for the size of the chicken, but I just put it in an oven dish and cooked it alongside the chicken for 30 minutes - delicious), the sweetcorn with chipotle butter, the chilli dogs, the fiery lamb, chilli beef lettuce wraps (blew my head off; but soooo tasty) and the slow roasted pork belly with fennel......just to mention a few!!! They have all turned out wonderfully tasty, they are all easy to make and so far no weird ingredients that you can't find or cost a fortune.
I have tried many other chef cookbooks from Jamie Oliver to Gary Rhodes, via Silvena Rowe. I don't really like my Jamie Oliver book (his American one) and whilst Gary Rhodes has some great recipes a LOT of them are way too difficult for the average cook, require kitchen tools you simply don't have, techniques you don't know and ingredients you can't find!!
There are only 2 other chefs that I LOVE as much as Gordon and they both have great books too!!!! Ken Hom's Complete Chinese Cookbook makes cooking chinese food so simple; until I bought it I had tried various other Chinese cookbooks and every dish I made was a failure...not now!!! And Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible - a truly wonderful collection of recipes!!!
Tonight we are having Bollito Misto and tomorrow night we are having Chicken and Autumn Veg pies!!!!
We are eating like Kings since I bought this book........yummy!!!!
on 28 October 2013
GR used to be known for being a gobby twit, but I happen to like him and where he came from to get where he is today. His achievement only came from many long hours working in kitchens and pure hard work learning his trade and reaping the rewards for his accomplishments. Personally I don't want a library full of cookery books I want one or 2 really good ones that fits in with my life style easily. The Ultimate Cookery Course does what it says on the cover, it has easy amazing recipes that don't break the bank for the ingredients but it also gives you some great tips on the way from the best culinary utensils to cheats but without the B.S. G.R is like marmite you either loath him or love, but don't judge a book by the cover as I've had the pleasure of reading his 2 autobiographies which created a lasting impression on me. He is man who is the dogs bo*****s at his trade but also a great husband and father, you must be a very proud man!!!
on 30 September 2012
Having seen a few episodes of Gordon Ramsey's cookery course on TV (pleased to say no swearing!), I was inspired to get this book. Very nice to look at with good photos of most of the dishes. Recipes look straight forward. There are plenty of dishes which I immediately felt I would like to have a go at which is always a good sign. However as it is a cookery course and I am a novice I was expecting a bit more detail. For example I tried the Fish Pie and followed the instructions to the letter. No where in the book does it say whether a tablespoon of flour (the recipe requires four) should be heaped or level. I went for something inbetween. Even as a novice I thought it looked like an awful lot of flour and I found that when mixed in it quickly turned into a paste even after adding the stock and milk. Instead the recipe states 'boil for 5 minutes until reduced by a third', you can't do that with a paste! I had to add another 300ml of water to thin it out. Even if I had done level tablespoons I think it might be too much flour. Is the receipe wrong? However, the final result was tasty and my dinner guests loved it. I will persevere with this book but I think a cookery course aimed to 'teach you to cook' should have a little more detail for complete novices like myself.
on 4 November 2012
A comprehensive cookery book with easy to follow recipes, everyday ingredients and fantastic results. Suitable for beginners or accomplished cooks who would like to try new ideas. I highly recommend this book .