Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Chef For All Seasons

This Summer we were introduced to chef Gordon Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen yet another food-oriented reality TV show. I admit I watched it, drawn to it like a moth to the flame. But truth be told I was more curious about the cooking than the pathetic contestants or the sadomasochistic challenges and punishments. Ramsay is a notorious yet brilliant chef with several very successful restaurants in Britain. Now we finally get a taste of Ramsay's food instead of his fury in the paperback edition of A Chef For All Seasons.

The first thing that struck me about this book is the introductions to each season. They cover the fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood and even herbs that Ramsay likes to use in his cooking. He shares how and why he prepares them. It's almost like a mini cooking course. I read every single one of the intros all the way through. I also devoured the Basic Recipes and Techniques section where you can learn his recipes for things like peach chutney, citrus confit, classic vinaigrette and flavored stock syrups.

As for the recipes themselves, they are organized seasonally as the title suggests. Some of the ingredients are not exactly mainstays of the home cook, such as woodcock, pigs feet, squab or pheasant and others frankly I never heard of such as blewit mushrooms? But plenty of the recipes do not call for exotic ingredients or preparations and the recipe instructions are straightforward and very well written.

The Summer recipes I plan on trying in the next week or so include Roasted Figs with Cinnamon Shortbreads and the Roasted Sea Bass with Chive Creme Fraiche, Baby Potatoes and Artichokes. If you'd like to get a sneak peek at the book, you can check out his recipe for Pillows of Ricotta Gnocchi with Peas and Baby Fava Beans here. There is plenty in Ramsay's book to inspire and to learn from if you are curious about the cuisine of the chef behind Hell's Kitchen.