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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First published in September of 2010, popular self-taught Australian chef Bill Granger's beautifully presented cookbook 'Bill's Basics' clearly had the 'Average Joe' in mind when he began penning this recipe book. The principle that runs behind the entirety of the book is good, honest and simple food - cooked simply. No experience or any advanced understanding of cooking is required; the book is aimed at taking the user through all the stages to create a vast array of quite simplistic culinary delights.

The book begins with a short introduction by Granger, allowing a brief glimpse into how surprisingly personal the book is to him. This alone adds a genuinely nice touch to the following recipes, and allows you to truly believe that he cooks these dishes all of the time; unlike with other cookbooks, whereby you know that half of the recipes are for dishes that the writer/chef would probably never cook up for themselves in everyday life.

Each recipe includes brief notes on the dish, which are often personal to Granger, as well as snippets of the dish's history ("carrot cake reached our shores in the Seventies"), or honest insights into the recipes and his attitude to cooking ("Satay Skewers are one of my favourite street foods, but I can't always be bothered to thread the chicken onto skewers at home").

An entire chapter is dedicated to soup, with a good number of delectable yet healthy recipes included. There are also one or two unusual recipes, such as 'Laksa' which is a rich and fragrant noodle soup that is (or so we're told) becoming the 'Spag Bol' of Australia. Don't be fooled into thinking that because the book is entitled 'Basics' that you will have seen it all before. With Bill's 'simplified' take on cooking, a lot of the classic recipes are seemingly transformed into the glorification and utter enjoyment of the ingredients and the honesty of combining and cooking them.

Not only does the cookbook offer up interesting and so-very-slightly unusual dishes such as the likes of the aforementioned 'Laksa', along with 'Salt & Pepper Squid', `Roasted Butternut Squash, Lentil & Spice Pasties' and 'Saffron Risotto With Lobster'; you also have recipes for the justifiably classic dishes such as 'The Perfect Steak', 'Fish Pie', 'Vegetable Soup' and 'Tomato Pasta Sauce'.

Each recipe includes a full colour photo alongside it, which brings together a beautifully presented and brilliantly inspiring book. The recipes are simple to locate, put into their own chapters based on the principal ingredient and/or style of dish (as well as an easy to use index). Each of the chapters is exactly 24 pages in length.

The chapters include:
Breakfast
Baking
Soup
Salads
Rice, pasta & bread
Chicken
Meat
Seafood
Vegetables
Desserts

All in all, this is a beautifully presented cookbook, which is ideal for everyday use, for absolutely anyone. Running for a total of 256 pages, this high quality and durable publication covers a vast array of dishes, with simplicity and the sheer enjoyment of cooking always in mind. Very highly recommended (and I don't say that often!).
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Whilst billed as "basics", namely classic meals from around the world for everyday cooking, Bill's Granger's book often goes beyond that. I was quite pleased for example to see that his recipe for Bolognese sauce includes the "authentic" ingredients and processes which most books leave out (soffrito of onion, carrot & celery, pancetta, pork as well as beef mince, milk and white wine).

His interpretations of the recipes can add that little bit extra beyond the standard. Though I have been doing Indian cooking for many years, I have always struggled to produce a palak paneer which I could call satisfactory to my mind. But trying ideas from Bill's recipe here I've gone a long way towards remedying that.

To be fair there are probably not too many recipes in this book which I would go out of my way to cook, but this is a decent enough book for those less experienced at cooking who want to expand their repertoire and produce relatively simple meals but with that little bit more.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It does what it says on the tin. Bill Granger provides a selection of easy to cook recipes that you will use every day in your kitchen. The recipes are well laid out and clear to follow, the ingredients are not too rarefied that you couldn't get hold of most of them in your local supermarket (perhaps I will allow that the saffron and lobster risotto may be the only exception here), and every one that I have tested so far is tasty beyond belief.

The book is laid out in useful sections like breakfast, baking, desserts, meat and helpfully, an entire section for chicken. It is clearly marked where ingredients are optional, and serving suggestions are offered rather than dictated. I loved this book. The clear, simple photography really gives you a feel for what the food should look like. There are some wonderfully fresh vegetarian options, a lasagne which is packed full of ricotta and mozarella cheese and a good, simple tomato sauce, and a black bean chilli I am dying to try.

I do not think you should review a cookery book if you haven't tested at least some of the recipes, and so far I have made, chocolate brownies which were deliciously dark and sticky, the plain cake for friends which was light and moist and looked beautiful and the most divine carrot cake I have ever made or eaten. I have also made the flat breads, which were simple and far superior to any you will buy in a supermarket. The beef daube in rose was absolute heaven, and so was the roasted tomato soup. I cannot wait to crack on with the rest of the book.

This is my first Bill Granger recipe book. It will not be my last.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I first saw Bill Granger about 3 years ago in a series called "Cooking the Books" and he was a breath of fresh air; something different to the studio based cookery programmes (Saturday Morning Kitchen, Daily Cooks, Ready Steady Cook, etc). His programmes were friendly and full of light; not just physical light, but a degree of emotional light too. That is why I waited with baited breath for the book to arrive.

Unfortunately, Mr Granger's efforts with this tome are somewhat disappointing.

Don't get me wrong, the book is stunning to look at and contains a staggering number of glossy photos (5 of Bill Granger, 110 of food, and 21 miscellaneous). A total of 136 full page, full colour photographs out of a total number of 256 pages. Of the remaining 120 pages 99 are dedicated to recipes. The other 21 include a 4-page index, and 17 pages of acknowledgements and "conversation".

My main disappointment comes from the quality of the recipes included.

For example, does Mr Granger really think that people who buy his books need to be told how to make a cup of coffee or tea? Everyone has their own way of making their beverage of choice, at the strength they like it; and not everyone will like it at the same strength as Mr Granger. So a constraining "recipe" for coffee or tea seems to be a little condescending towards his readership, never mind superfluous to requirements (and possibly a filler to add a couple more pages to the book - or am I being too cynical?)

There are 8 pasta dishes, but unusually no recipe for pasta. I would have liked to have seen his take on pasta as I have a number of recipes for it, all of them different. There are also 16 salad dishes.

His Chinese style marinated pork is delicious, and has a different flavour to Ken Hom's version (Ken Hom's New Chinese Cookery). Both versions of this char sui pork may well feature in our New Year banquet. Alternatively, his lemon chicken recipe didn't go down well at all, being far too gooey and sweet for all those that tried it. However, this is the same with any recipe book - there will always be recipes that you like and those that you don't.

Mr Granger's fame lies with his scrambled egg recipe, the food critic from the Times newspaper having declared it "the best scrambled eggs in the world". Strangely this is a one recipe that is missing from this book.

Mr Granger adds two tablespoons of double cream for each egg he uses. He beats them together with a seasoning of salt and pepper, and then cooks the mixture gently in butter, folding the egg and cream mixture until it has a texture similar to "soft curds" rather than beating it into a lumpy mush. It is the use of the double cream and the folding method that produces a more silky and substantial scrambled egg.

Overall, there are some good recipes in the book, however, the book is padded out with so many pictures and so much fluff that it feels more like a coffee table book than a true recipe book. It is this coffee table feel to the book and the quality of the recipes chosen that has left me with an overall feeling of disappointment.
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on 24 November 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This really is a great cook book which includes 100 of Bill's recipes. Each one is easy to follow and has a beautiful colour photo next to it so you can see what the finished dish should look like, which is always a bonus. The book is split into chapters which include: breakfast, baking, soup, salads, rice/pasta/bread, chicken, meat, seafood, vegetables and deserts so it really does cater for everyone and every mood. The recipes tend to favour Asian and Italian but this is not a bad thing. Whilst it is titled "Bill's Basics" there are also some more stretching recipes for the more adventurous chef. I liked the book as there are recipes for everyone, it's really easy to locate the one you want, and it's a good looking and sturdy book. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a general cook book and guarantee you won't be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 6 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've seen a couple of episodes of Bill's programmes and I've seen him on Saturday Kitchen. I've never bought one of his books before because I had the impression that his recipes were more suited for the Australian lifestyle, e.g. salads and barbecues and al fresco eating, not always possible in an English summer!

However, I am glad to say I was wrong and Bill's recipes are a revelation. Although the book is entitled "Bill's Basics", basic does not equate to boring. The food within is fresh and exciting and exactly what I would want to cook:

Breakfasts - Pancakes made without buttermilk (fantastic! As Bill says, who has buttermilk in their fridge on a Sunday morning?)and interesting egg recipes (Bill's speciality), as well as a tasty looking kedgeree and white hot chocolate

Baking - Brownies and Carrot Cake, simply done but looking delicious and achievable for a non-baker like me

Soups - Not a great fan of making soup, but something for everyone here, including the classic French Onion. I may be tempted to try the tomato soup with cashew and coconut sambal......

Salads - The classics are here, Caesar, Nicoise and potato salads but the one I am going to try is the Thai beef

Rice, Pasta and Bread - My favourite carbohydrates! There's a nice lobster risotto here and noodle dishes including pad thai, but the one that most interested me was the polenta bolognese gratin, a never seen before Italian dish and definitely different.

Chicken - Bill's Coq au Vin looks tasty and so does the lemon chicken. Roast chicken with stuffing is also here along with other classics, like chicken parmiagiana, fried chicken, burritos and satay. All my favourite things to eat and made easy to cook

Meat - Roast pork belly, lamb and beef fillet and how to cook a proper steak, also beef en daube made with rose wine and a delicious looking lamb curry

Seafood - Fish pie and fishcakes look easy to make and classic fish and chips are here, with Bill's paprika dusted batter and home made tartare sauce. Fish looks less scary to cook in Bill's book......

Vegetables - Now here is the real revelation and what makes this a five star book - no usual carrot or potato accompaniments here, only really interesting vegetarian recipes, in fact the best I have ever seen in a non-vegetarian cookery book! Included here are chickpea burgers, butternut squash, lentil and spice pasties with yogurt dressing, palak paneer and cheese and leek souffles. Now it takes a lot for vegetarian dishes to make my mouth water but Bill's have!

Desserts - No real surprises here but a really good recipe for tiramisu containing two types of alcohol, an easy pavlova and a delicious looking baked lemon cheesecake

I am really pleasantly surprised by this book and will definitely be cooking a lot from this one
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Things I like about this book:-

1. High quality feel with a thick cover and glossy pics.
2. A photo of practically every recipe included (the apple sauce to go with the crispy pork belly being the only pictorial omission I could find).
3. A really eclectic mix of cuisines, encompassing traditional and modern european, as well as asian and pacific rim.
4. Recipes divided logically by ingredient (meat, fish, baking etc).
5. A special section devoted to breakfast, with Bill's famous pancakes taking pride of place as recipe number one.
6. Bill lets you cheat by using shop-bought puff pastry - yay!!

My first attempt at cooking from this book was the butterscotch madeleine recipe, which actually comes from St John in London, but fair play to Bill for being big enough to give a nod to other chefs. This is probably the easiest thing I've ever made - taking only about 10 minutes to prepare, and barely another 8 to bake. I thought the butterscotch was quite an original take on the traditional french recipe, which is usually flavoured with lemon, or just left plain. I really liked the hint of the golden syrup coming through, and eaten warm straight from the oven with a light dusting of icing sugar these were absolutely delicious.

Other recipes that appealed to me include home-made hash browns and cumin-roasted tomatoes, chinese prawn toasts, steamed fish with chilli dressing, home-cured gravlax, and grilled banana splits. You can probably see from these examples that the book is strong on classic recipes, in particular providing the means for you to cook restaurant favourites at home (sweet and sour pork, lamb curry, and chicken satay to name three more). It is said to represent a distillation of the author's own all-time favourite/best recipes, and I have no hesitation in recommending it.
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on 14 December 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I like Bill's down to earth, sunny Australian approach to cooking - and this book offers exactly that. A good quality, series of basic (and some not so basic) recipes of complete reliability.

As so many cookbooks do these days, it offers a flavour of lifestyle and emotion to suit many. Glossy, cheery and inspiring, and quite delicious! I love the way that even though I already 'know' and own many of the recipes (I have a good cookery book collection!), this book inspires me to try Bill's version and tweak flavours and methods.

Personal favourites include the Green Goddess Dressing on p.193 (divine and so useful for salads, fish, dips etc) Bills 'Fried' Chicken on p.141(the buttermilk really tenderises the chicken beautifully), and the moreish Bran Muffins for Breakfast on p.26 (I've made this batter the night before and just popped into cases and into the oven first thing for a stress free breakfast).

Relevant and appropriate for novice and experienced cook alike, I'd recommend this book to all.
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VINE VOICEon 15 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This certainly is pretty basic with recipes on how to cook steak etc,but there are some very simple but delicious recipes too.Many of them lean towards Far Eastern ingredients with a liberal use of chilli and garlic,or require baking rather than cooking on the hob, but there are plenty of more traditional western dishes although most of these have a twist, such as lemon drizzle loaf made with polenta.

I must say I found the book was let down by some of the photos, some of which are very poor indeed, particularly of the steak, which looks burnt and very unappetising. That gripe aside, the recipes are clearly written and very easy to follow.The first dish we tried was the Steamed Fish With Chilli Dressing. It took about five mintues to prepare and ten to cook, you simply put your choice of veg and the fish in a saucepan with a steamer - it's as easy as that - and while it's steaming mix up the ingredients (which I would have thought would be in most cooks cupboards these days) for the dressing. You can have this as a simple dish in itself or add rice or noodles as we did for a more substantial meal. The Saffron Rice With Lobster (we substituted crab) was also dead easy and very tasty.

This strikes me as a very good cookbook for someone starting out, especially if they have a liking for dishes with an Oriental twist, although, as others have said, it is oddly laid out.

UPDATE: I can now recommend the stir fry pork with pineapple and cherry tomatoes. Very nice.

SECOND UPDATE: We have now tried the Polenta and Blueberry cake (3 times) which is delicious and several other recipes,all excellent, and this is currently my wife's favourite cookbook.Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Out of 100 recipes I would cook at least 25 of these. I hate buying recipes books where there is only a couple that I would ever eat.

The flap on the front sleeve serves as a page marker. Even though it is hard backed the sleeve is wipe clean.

Each recipe has its own photograph so you see the finish dish. It is broken up into 12 different sections so what you want to cook or bake is easy to find. Breakfast, Baking, Soup, Salad, Rice, Pasta & Bread, Chicken, Meat, Seafood, Vegetables and Desserts. Baking & Desserts are my favourite sections. But my husband like his Meat & Seafood recipes best. He made his lamb Curry & it was really nice.
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