Gary Maclean may be a familiar face to many as he was the winner of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2016. But don’t be alarmed if you’re not a master chef yourself. This book is full of practical hints and tips to help you master the basic cooking skills yet also includes some challenging recipes for the more experienced cook.
As you can see from the contents page, the book begins with the essentials before you even start cooking. Gary Maclean suggests items every kitchen should have beginning with the best pots and pans, explains the importance of buying the best knives you can afford and suggests other useful equipment such as scales, a food processor and a temperature probe. He also covers helpful skills like how to joint a chicken and how to chop an onion. That’s something I’ve never been too good at so I’m hoping his tips will help me master this skill!
I liked the skill rating system used throughout the book – the G system. One G is a relatively straightforward recipe. Two Gs are a bit more complex whereas three Gs take more time and are a bit more of a challenge. An example of a one G recipe is Mac’n’cheese with smoked bacon and leek from the heart warmers section of the book. A twist on a classic which looks simple to make and sounds delicious. Definitely one I’ll be trying on my family this week. A 2 Gs recipe example is a red berry pavlova and I must admit that meringue is not one of my strong points so I’ll be studying the tips to make it. A more challenging 3G recipe is Venison Wellington with new potatoes and baby carrots. It looks amazing in the photo and my husband loves venison so maybe I’ll give that a try for a special occasion meal.
I always feel the best way to review a cookery book is to try out some of the recipes. With it getting near to Christmas I decided to bake the pistachio biscotti. As you can see from the picture below, most of the recipes in the book are illustrated with beautiful photographs, have a clear list of ingredients and straightforward, easy to follow instructions. I can vouch for the fact that, as the recipe says, the biscotti has a lovely texture. It would be great to bake a batch to give as a home-made gift if you can resist the temptation to eat them all!
I think that this book would be a great gift for anyone who enjoys cooking or is interested in getting started. With simple recipes for everyone and more complicated recipes for the more experienced cook, it is a cookbook which has something everyone can enjoy. I should mention as well that there’s a lovely chapter about cooking with children. Cooking is an enjoyable way to spend time with children as well as teaching them valuable life skills and hopefully encouraging a love of preparing good food from scratch.
My thanks to Alastair at Black & White Publishing for my copy of the book. It is available now in hardback and can be ordered from the publishers’ website here.
From the back of the book
GARY MACLEAN’S Kitchen Essentials is packed full of easy-to-follow recipes and sure-fire tips and techniques. It will show you everything you need to cook like a champion in your own home.
For everyone from kitchen novice to kitchen king, Kitchen Essentials brings you food you’ll love to cook. With its simple tips, expert know-how and mouth-watering recipes, you’ll wonder how you ever cooked without it.
Gary Maclean’s years of experience as a chef and teacher inform these tried-and-tested recipes – complete with practical guidance on how best to kit out your kitchen and use the tools of the trade with confidence. He’ll alert you to all those places where mistakes might be made, and outlines key techniques to showcase your new skills to perfection.
With a ‘hassle factor’ rating for each recipe, which reflects the reality of how you cook at home – from simple soups to midweek suppers, from showstoppers to standout desserts – there’s a glorious array of recipes that will fast become family favourites. There’s even a chapter devoted to the pleasures of cooking with the younger generation – as a father, Gary knows exactly how to get kids involved.
Gary Maclean is an expert at creating phenomenal food with the minimum of fuss. And here he’ll show you all the essentials you need to cook like a champion in your own kitchen.