Skye Gyngell's skill in combining ingredients in a way that heightens their freshness and flavour is second to none. Her cooking at Petersham Nurseries has won many awards and her previous two books have been highly acclaimed. Now, Skye turns her attention to home cooking. In How I Cook she focuses on the food she cooks for friends and family, with an original collection of over 100 recipes based around meal occasions - breakfast, Sunday lunch, alfresco eating, afternoon tea, simple weekday dinner, late night supper and celebrations - such as Christmas and Easter. Skye's home cooking is influenced by the seasons but it is also the sense of occasion that inspires her creativity. The layers of flavour that typify Skye's dishes are evident throughout, but recipes are more straightforward and based on ingredients that are easy for the home cook to obtain. All techniques are carefully explained and illustrated, and Skye reveals the secrets of her success, based on her years of experience in the kitchen. In addition, Skye provides menu suggestions throughout the book to create beautifully balanced meals. The final chapter 'Time to spare' presents a lovely selection of original preserves and other food that can be prepared ahead to enjoy later.
About the Author
Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond, Surrey, and an established food writer, contributing regularly to the Independent on Sunday, Vogue and delicious. Born in Australia, Skye has worked as a chef in Sydney, Paris and London. Since 2004, she has been pivotal in establishing Petersham's reputation for excellent food and an impressive number of awards. A Year in my Kitchen was named the Guild of Food Writers 'Cookery Book of the Year' in 2007 and 'Best Food Book' at Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards. The sequel, My Favourite Ingredients, was published in 2008. Author Location: London
Last July, the Washington Post excerpted a recipe from Ginette Mathiot's French classic and, in the covering article, compared it a French "Joy of Cooking" and compared it the books of Julia Child. On the strength of that article, I ordered the book, and my copy arrived yesterday. I am going to enjoy cooking from it. It is a classic of great depth and we can be thankful to Phaidon for publishing this huge volume. And yet, in my opinion, it is not quite what the Post article touted it to be. It lacks the extraordinary technical precision of Julia Child and "Joy of Cooking." Nor, do I think that, as an introduction to cooking technique, it can be compared to Madeleine Kamman's "New Making of a Cook." The closest American comparison I would make to it is the classic "American Woman's Cookbook," which was my mother's cooking bible and the cook book I first learned to cook from. As a collection of recipes, the Mathiot book deserves a place of honor in the kitchen. Yet the book suffers from some odd editorial shortcomings. As a translation from the French, ingredients are given in equivalent U.S. measurements (mostly by weight); but straight metric conversions lead to odd amounts in the ingredients columns. For example, one recipe calls for 4 1/4 ounces of bacon, 9 ounces of chestnuts, and 1 1/4 cups of Madeira. Readers would have been better served by a list of the original metric amounts and a parallel column that recalculates the recipe in more standard U.S. measures--as for example the U.S. editor of Elizabeth David's books has done with her British measures. Secondly, there is no French-to-English glossary; and, in some cases, trying to find a technique known by a French name is hopeless. Where is "poele," for example? Equally annoying is the lack of information about some ingredients or ingredient substitutions. Recipes often call from creme fraiche, an ingredient not as yet found in many U.S. markets. It is easy to prepare at home, but no instructions are given. Readers should also be aware that many of the recipes call for main ingredients not easily found--for example, where does one get hare? Finally, the many photos on matte paper are not particularly inviting. Yet with all these limitations, I hope this book will sell well enough for the publishers to invest a little more editorial effort in a second edition. As good as this book is, it hasn't quite made it all the way across the Atlantic. We need a U.S. edition, not just a U.S. translation.
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