“Best Menus” – Our Verdict

Kirstin: I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book.

Maureen: I was surprised by how much I was underwhelmed. The recipies for the most part all worked…

Kirstin: …and there was a good range with lots of different cuisines…

Maureen: But there wasn’t anything in here I don’t have in another cookbook. Though, to be fair, I do have a lot of cookbooks.

Kirstin: The thing I liked about this book was that all of the recipes worked. I knew I could trust them all.

Maureen: Other than the yogurt and blueberry recipe. But we don’t eat yogurt too much, so that’s OK.

Kirstin: For my first Gordon book I’ve used, it was uncharacteristically useful. I might consider buying another Gordon book.

Maureen: It was quick. They were 30 minute recipes without being called 30 minutes. I also really liked how it was laid out, with each page cut into thirds, so you could have a starter, main and dessert from three different parts of the book all on the same page.

Kirstin: Wasn’t that brilliant. More books shoudl do that. It was fantastic.

Maureen: I would recommend it to people who don’t have many cookbooks and who don’t like to cook that much.

Kirstin: This is a good one to give to people, because everybody would find something they would use. The desserts were very doable. Most dessert recipes I get a bit scared of, but I wasn’t scared of those.

Maureen: I liked the looks of the chocolate fondant recipie you made, so much so that I went out and bought Le Crueset ramekins. Well, I was celebrating passing my citizenship exam, so I bought them to celebrate.

Kirstin: Any excuse to buy Le Crueset.

Maureen: Any excuse to mention the fact that I passed my test.

Kirstin: So, Maureen, have you enjoyed your first month on Cookbook a Month?

Maureen: Yes, very much. The thing I really liked about is it forced me to make different things during the week, rather than the same 10 standby dishes that I always do. My family really liked that too. I liked this book. It’s like the elusive Holy Grail: finding the recipe that you can make quickly on a weekday night that your family likes and is easy.

Kirstin: It’s a great book.

“Best Menus” – Our Verdict

“Pan-fried Hake with Tomato Relish” from “Best Menus”

Tom: So, I was very impressed by the “slow frying” technique here. You put the oil and the fish in a cold pan, and then heat it slowly to stop the fish from curling up. But we couldn’t test this properly because we didn’t have skin on the fillets, and it’s the skin that does the curling up, I think.

Kirstin: I think you’re right. But it was the only kind of hake I could get.

Tom: The relish was quite nice…

Kirstin: I forgot to get coriander…

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“Pan-fried Hake with Tomato Relish” from “Best Menus”

“Baguette and Butter Pudding” from “Best Menus”

Tom: Ooh, it’s crunchy!

Kirstin: Because it’s got baguette in it. From the cheese shop.

Kat: It’s like Italian bread. Super crusty!

Tom: Well, I like the crunchiness.

Patrick: I do too. I don’t normally like bread pudding, but this is really good!

Kat: What do you like about it?

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“Baguette and Butter Pudding” from “Best Menus”

“Ricotta Cheesecake and Oranges in Caramel” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: Oh my god — it worked! But we’re not having the oranges and caramel, because I knew I’d mess up the caramel.

Tom: Why were you surprised that it worked?

Kirstin: Because all of my cakes fail. I am rubbish at cakes. Particularly cheesecakes. Blimey! It really did work!

Kat: I am very anxious to try this cheesecake that worked!

Kirstin (as cake slices perfectly): Look at that! Clever Gordon!

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“Ricotta Cheesecake and Oranges in Caramel” from “Best Menus”

“Bresaola with Rocket and Parmesan” and “Blueberries with Honey, Almonds and Yogurt” from “Best Menus”

Maureen: As you can see, I found the bresaola. It was not easy to find. I struck out at Drings (though they said they usually do have it), Waitrose, the Cooperative, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Marks & Spencer.

Tim: Where did you find it?

Maureen: At the most excellent and our most favourite Italian delicatessen, Gennaro’s in Lewisham, of course. I knew they would have it. I went after I passed my Life in the UK Citizenship test. (Editor’s note: Please excuse the blatant self-promotion, but hey, can you tell us how many members there are in the Welsh General Assembly or how many members there are in cabinet?)

Tim: What do you think?

Maureen: It’s very nice, but it hardly qualifies as a recipe. I’d call it a shopping list. Gennaro had a great tip that Gordon didn’t include. He said to be sure to put lemon juice on the bresaola. So I put lemon juice on the beef and then again on the rocket once I put it on top. What did you think?

Continue reading ““Bresaola with Rocket and Parmesan” and “Blueberries with Honey, Almonds and Yogurt” from “Best Menus””

“Bresaola with Rocket and Parmesan” and “Blueberries with Honey, Almonds and Yogurt” from “Best Menus”

“Stir-Fried beef with Peppers & Egg Noodles” from “Best Menus”

Tim: So what are we having tonight?

Maureen: This is stir-fried beef with peppers and egg noodles. I should tell you that I didn’t use the beef it called for, though. Gordon Ramsay wants us to use fillet for a stir-fry. Really? Fillet for a stir-fry, Gordon?? It seems as though every one of his beef recipes calls for fillet. If we were multi-millionaires like Gordon, I’d use fillet more too. But sadly we’re not.

Tim: So what did you get?

Maureen: The fine gentleman at Drings recommended that I get top rump, so I did. Of course, we spent a few good minutes talking about how silly it’d be to use fillet in a stir- fry, especially when you’re going to marinate it.

Editor’s Note: If you haven’t been to Drings Butchers on Royal Hill in Greenwich yet, go as fast as your legs can carry you. We love them. They’re a top supplier (see list on the right) and our gastronomical life wouldn’t be the same without them.

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“Stir-Fried beef with Peppers & Egg Noodles” from “Best Menus”

“Sticky Lemon Chicken” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: Miles, did you like the chicken?

Miles: It was really, really really nice. The most yummiest chicken I have ever had.

Kirstin: But you only had two mouthfuls!

Miles: No, I had three.

Ella: The chicken was very good, but it was very filling, so I couldn’t each very much. It would have been nice if there had been some kind of sauce to go on the rice.

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“Sticky Lemon Chicken” from “Best Menus”

“Spiced Monkfish with Crushed Potatoes” from “Best Menus”

Tim: What did you think?

Andrew (11): I liked it. It was tasty. There were lots of tastes.

Tim: Are there any that stand out?

Andrew: None stand out. It was well balanced.

Tim: I liked it. I liked that it no longer made me hungry.

Maureen: Are you just trying to be nice? You know what Mom said: You can always find one nice thing to say about people.

Nicholas (7): Gag. Gag. Gag. Spicy! Is it my turn yet?

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“Spiced Monkfish with Crushed Potatoes” from “Best Menus”

“Chocolate Fondant” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: I had to do this mad thing with the butter. I had to butter the dishes, put them in the fridge for ten minutes, then butter them again, and add some cocoa. It was mad. But it meant it didn’t stick! Good on old Gordon! It was great!

Tom: I think the combination of the slightly bitter chocolate with the sweetness of the ice cream is perfect. It’s great.

Emily: It’s amazingly gooey in the middle.

Frode: Not too gooey, actually. Because sometimes fondants are like hot chocolate inside. So, I agree with my wife’s quality judgement, but opposite on the gooiness.

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“Chocolate Fondant” from “Best Menus”

“Chicken Marsala with Red Chicory” from “Best Menus”

Kirstin: I rather liked that! The sauce was delicious, and it was supremely easy.

Tom: The sauce was yum — a bit sweet, but not too much.

Kirstin: We didn’t talk while we were eating it, which is always a good sign.

Tom: But the chicken was a bit underdone.

Kirstin: That was me. Well, maybe not. He says brown the chicken, then cook it in the pan for 10-15 minutes. I gave it 45, and it was still a bit pink in places.

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“Chicken Marsala with Red Chicory” from “Best Menus”