Gordon Ramsay is my chef hero! I think the reason for this is because his philosophy appears to be the fact that good, tasty, healthy food can be simple and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In February I was gifted his Ultimate Cookery Course cook book.
Being kosher, recipes are often a problem when they are in a celebrity chef’s cook book. I have to substitute a lot of ingredients or the equivalent is unavailable and I have to try and make my own. Also these recipes tend to be long and complicated; it is easier to make up my own.
A client had told me about the TV show and that there was a cookery book out with the recipes shown on the show. I was so excited until I priced the book here. There was a special on Amazon, but they don’t deliver books to South Africa. A very kind soul heard my discussion on the books and how I had seen a few episodes and would love to try them.
Next thing you know I am in possession of the cookery book!
For the month of March I made one recipe a week from the book. I am not being paid to review the book or promote it. I will tell you now that I will be making more recipes from the book! Each one I tried was successful even with having to make the necessary changes for dietary requirements.
Two carcasses picked clean! I double the recipe for stuffed chicken as there were 7 for dinner. I made two large chickens with stuffing. The stuffing recipe was easy to make. Even with the two adaptions I needed to make, the chicken was amazing. Everyone cleared their plates and went back for more.
I messed that recipe up quite well and it was still a hit! Firstly I defrosted the wrong meat and ended up with 10 pieces of rib eye steak. I planned the meal for a Wednesday. I needed liver pate (we call it chopped liver) and the kosher butchers’ only have this available on Thursday night. Then I made the mushroom duxelle with ordinary button mushrooms as I couldn’t find wild mushrooms. For pancetta I used lamb maken. I called the new recipe Beef Waterloo.
The recipe made 10 huge Wellingtons. We ate for 2 days and even with the meat being slightly over cooked on the second day, it was still delicious.
While the maken didn’t have the same flavor of pancetta, the fat kept the beef moist. The duxelle worked out well and was very tasty too.
I do admit I will probably only do this again next year as it took me 3 hours to make.
Sea Bream with Tomato and Herb Salsa
I substituted the Bream with Silverfish and I trusted the fishmonger when he said they were the same. My family are not big fish eaters. This dish was amazing and the family has agreed that I can make it again.
I have since started cooking all fish the way Gordon teaches in his show and the improvement is amazing. Fish is still not the most popular protein in my house, unless it is tinned tuna.
I doubled the recipe and it wasn’t enough! I do think I need to invest in a ricer for this one. Gnocchi is quick and relatively easy to make.
I have made gnocchi before and even though it was nice, it was quite stodgy. This time the gnocchi were almost perfect, light and flavourful, and the one or two lumps didn’t deter anyone and I had to go back and make a second batch.
I now have new recipes to add to my recipe bank and a whole lot more to try.
Who is your favourite celebrity chef and why? What recipes have you made of theirs? Continue reading My month with Gordon
One of the tricks that has got me through meal planners block, is theme nights.
I don’t mean elaborate themes, I just mean creating a template for yourself that will make meal planning, in all aspects, a little less stressful.
What is a theme?
A theme is whatever idea you want it to be. Some of the examples I have used are:
Countries of the world
Jewish dishes from around the world
I love Africa
Cooking shows I love
Success and failure
Some were harder to follow than others. For example, the dinner from Russia was a total disaster! Vareniki- I don’t know what I did wrong, but they were totally inedible.
Others, like my cashew nut chicken, are such a hit that they now appear on my meal plan once a month.
The homemade pasta that I learned to make from watching MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay were another rebounding success.
How to decide
Using current trends to create themes is another easy method. Meat free Monday, Banting and LCHF (low carbohydrate, high fat) recipes are another method. You don’t have to follow the diets themselves, just some of recipes that your family might enjoy.
A basic template can actually be used when changing lifestyle eating habits to control your food choices.
Creating a template for your plans can sometimes be difficult and other times quick and easy. However, once created, the actual meal planning time is cut almost in half. Monthly Menu Planner and Shopping List
Decide what night you will be eating which type of meal. Here is a basic example of a template.
Monday- Meat Free
Tuesday- Mince (any kind)
Thursday – Chicken
Friday – Red Meat
Saturday – eat out
Sunday – pizza
Weekly menu planner and shopping list
Love it or hate it
Whether you love cooking or hate it, whether you are a contender for MasterChef, or you can barely boil water, what a template allows you to do is cook within your preference.
I am one of those people who love cooking. I am also a pretty good cook and love to try new recipes. Thankfully I have a family who like to eat and aren’t too fussy about their food choices.
I use meat free Mondays to make mac and cheese, tuna or vegetable lasagne’s and often to experiment with vegan recipes.
For mince night, I have a standard set of about 10 recipes, some more involved than others, which range from Chilli Con Carne to Sloppy Joes, Taco’s, Bolognaise, Cottage Pie, Shepard’s Pie, Mince Pie, Meatballs, Meatloaf and a few others.
For fish night, I have a few standards that I dare not alter too much. Haddock and Spaghetti, Hake and Basil Pesto, Grilled Fish and Chips, Crumbed Fish Cakes and Crumbed Fillets. There are a few more but I don’t make them often as they are either too expensive or the majority of my family don’t eat it.
Chicken night is another favourite meal and I can use this to try out new recipes.
Red meat night could mean stews or roasts and is another time where I can play with recipes.
As you can see my family are definite carnivores. Saturday and Sunday nights, we eat whatever is going. In a house full of teenagers this means they are mostly all out on Saturday night and we pretty much scrounge in the fridge for left overs or we have eggs or I will make pizza for supper. Sometime it is simply soup and toast.
Find freedom from the stove
Your template does not restrict you, it actually allows you to play around. You don’t need to follow a recipe either. If you know that tonight is mince night, you can take your meat out the freezer, come home and make whatever you want.
Another advantage is, if you have a whole lot of recipes you like, you can plot them for a month or more into your chosen nights.
Why not give it a try and see how easy meal planning can be?