Lyn has many passions and interests and one is cooking and finding the healthiest possible options for home cooked meals.
There is no denying that Gordon Ramsay is a great chef, no denying that he is highly qualified and talented, but not only has Ramsay done well making a good life for his family on the back of his talent and hard work, but he is also a generous person who shares hints, tips and recipes in his many books and television shows. Here today, I am reviewing his book Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets.
Gordon Ramsay’s books are beautiful and begin with his own introduction and here, Ramsay explains that he is first and foremost a cook, not a businessman as are the head chefs that run his restaurants. He also advises that we do not need lots of fancy expensive gadgets, but a good knife set and hopefully a mixer and stick blender, as well as heavy pans, will be all we need to recreate his recipes at home.
This book is dedicated to Ramsay’s youngest daughter Matilda, now something of a television sensation in her own right.
Inside cover begins
"Gordon Ramsay's Secrets is much more than a collection of superb recipes from a highly acclaimed chef with a larger than life personality - this fascinating cookbook reveals many of his culinary secrets. The recipes are presented in a clear easy-to-follow way...."
— Furniss A
- Poultry and game birds
- Pasta and rice
- Flour being breads, pastries and cakes
- Stocks, sauces and dressings
And to complete an index and acknowledgments, the book is in all 224 pages
“Most chefs will tell you that the shellfish section in a restaurant kitchen is probably their favorite.”
— Ramsay G
- Each section begins with its own introduction and here the recipes begin with poached lobster with potato and rocket salad and Ramsay gives tips on how to create perfect medallions, before moving onto further shellfish recipes with a tip on each page.
- A favorite I remember utilizing is langoustine cocktail, similar to the old favorite prawn cocktail but using langoustine instead and a favorite from one of his restaurants that I cook at home, so often that I no longer use the book is Ramsay’s salad of truffle-dressed scallops which is a surprisingly easy recipe to execute.
Ramsay introduces the fish section by reminiscing about his time as Chef de partie at Le Gavoroche and writes about the great quality of the daily fish delivery from Brixham. He also tells us that he loves how fish gives him the opportunity to reinvent classic dishes and how simplicity is the essence.
Favorites include pan-fried salmon with bacon and red wine sauce and aromatic steamed cod fillets that will work with any white fish. A special occasion dish is the pan-fried bream with celeriac veloute. There are recipes here for sea bass, red mullet, trout and more, so there are plenty of options. There are chef’s tips and secrets on most pages in this part of the book and a useful example is to use caramelized lemon slices at times to give a more complex flavor and explains succinctly how to create them.
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Poultry and Game
Ramsay begins his poultry and game section by endorsing free-range rearing, he says because it gives better flavor and texture. Chicken recipes give way to those for quail, guinea fowl and grouse as well as pigeon and duck. The famous Claridges pie is included and is typically surprisingly easy to do. An unusual recipe that is tried and tested is the breast of guinea fowl with pomegranate dressing and this is a surprisingly easy, yet impressive dish.
Again, meat begins with an introductory page from Ramsay and here he explains the merits of rustic country style dishes and the quick cook cuts many of us are more familiar with. He gives sound advice about calves liver and there are some interesting recipe choices, including beef fillet with gratin of wild mushrooms, lamb shank faggots in lettuce, navarin of venison with roasted root vegetables. This is a small section, but the recipes can be adapted for similar meats or at times even poultry and game. There is a useful two-page spread on how to tie a rolled joint, giving clear photo instructions to help the home cook.
Pasta and Rice
Pasta and rice is introduced by Ramsay telling the reader how he learnt about pasta under the guidance of Marco Pierre White where he learnt excellent fingertip control to mold perfect ravioli and telling how once he used the wrong pasta for lobster, resulting in the whole dish going in the bin and cost being taken from his wages. As he says a hard lesson, but one he never forgot!
Here the recipes include how to cook the perfect risotto and indeed this is a recipe that is easy to follow and delivers every time. Others, such as smoked haddock and asparagus open ravioli make an interesting starter or fish course and described in Ramsay’s easy to follow style are easier to produce than they look on the plate. Tagliatelle of wild mushrooms is another favorite and is a fabulous vegetarian dish that is great for special occasions.
Included is a double page spread on making that perfect ravioli that Pierre White taught Ramsay to do all those years ago.
Vegetables again begins with an introduction and here Ramsay harks back to his youth and the pleasure of seasonal vegetables, the reward of a day’s fishing for working hard and fast at the potato harvest and the more recent chefs delight of handling fresh asparagus spears.
This is a large section with a diverse mixture of vegetables and ideas to enhance our home meals, the recipes include such delights as puree if cauliflower scented with herbs; fondue of little gem lettuce and sautéed broccoli with crispy garlic oyster sauce. A firm favorite being my go-to pumpkin recipe pan-roasted pumpkin salad with ricotta and croutons, that can be adapted to use an alternative cheese to the parmesan used as a dressing and serve with warm toast or fresh ciabatta instead of croutons.
Eggs begin with Ramsay's advice and here he advises buying free-range and using the freshest eggs possible. The recipes are simple and easy to follow with a little twist to differentiate from the norm. Recipes include the perfect cheese omelette, eggs Benedict with minted hollandaise and Swiss soufflés. A favorite lunch being open omelette of goat’s cheese and spinach, so easy and tasty the Gordon way. Within the eggs section, there are some desserts such as chocolate and tiramisu parfait, crème anglaise and baked Alaska.
Maybe controversially for a Michelin-starred chef and in a recipe book, in his introduction to fruit, Ramsay advises that he loves fruit in its natural form, however, this is followed by stating that you cannot get much simpler than roasted peaches on brioche toast, but that the dish can be taken further. So all is not lost, Ramsay will not be serving a whole simple apple on a plate with some blackcurrant Jus anytime soon!
“Plump ripe plums, pink-blushed apricots and fragrant Italian peaches deserve to be appreciated in their natural form.”
— Ramsay G
Fruit begins with his “chic” version of Knickerbocker glories and this is a tasty adult version of a childhood favorite. An unusual recipe is pear sorbet and a banana and chocolate lovers dream is supplied courtesy of caramel bananas en papillote with chocolate sauce.
Flour, Breads, Pastries and Cakes
Flour, breads, pastries and cakes begin with Ramsay stating that everyone should learn to bake bread and remembering his mother's great baking when he was growing up. In this section, he gives recipes for bread, flatbread, sourdough, buckwheat blinis, puff pastry, pate sucre and more. He gives us desserts like banana and rum tatins, croustade of apple and coconut, passion fruit and orange tart and a dessert I love to make with plums and almonds from the garden plum and almond tart. Ramsay also tells the reader how to make “perfect scones”.
Stocks, Sauces and Dressings
Ramsay is known for imparting flavor into dishes and he begins his stocks sauces and dressings section by reminding the reader of that and he moves on to give us a masterclass in infusing our own cooking with flavor by making our own stocks, Jus’, herb oils as well as vinaigrette and mayonnaise. Indeed unusual, mayonnaise concludes the recipes in this book.
The book is packed throughout with little snippets of advice and chef’s tips which add interest and value to the book. There are not color prints of all the recipes, but there are a good number of photos to and interest add color.
Where included, the step-by-step photo instructions are backed with sound advice and together make the tasks foolproof and simple for any of us to do at home.
This is a fascinating book that is packed with interesting recipes, useful tips and added instructions, including some photo instructions. Ramsay shares his years of experience giving easy to follow recipes backed by sound introductions to each section and a comprehensive index.
There is a reason why chef Ramsay is one of the best in the world, and this book goes a long way to demonstrate it.
- All photos are my own, but of the book and original photos are by Georgia Glynn Smith.
- Furnis A, (2003), Gordon Ramsay's Secrets, Quadrille Publishing Limited, Hong Kong
- Ramsay G (2003), Gordon Ramsay's Secrets, Quadrille Publishing Limited, Hong Kong
© 2017 Lyn