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Gordo’s Cookbooks for Christmas Presents

From Hix to Shields via Blumenthal and Guérard, Gordo says buy these

Published on December 5th 2011.

Gordo’s Cookbooks for Christmas Presents

GORDO, in a previous life, published cookbooks.

So many years ago he doesn’t want to be reminded but, currently on a strict diet of 600 calories a day and four and a half weeks in, with three and a half to go, he is finding himself standing in Waterstones cookery department salivating a good deal more than can be good for him.

Ingredients have to be available. Surely these chefs and cookery writers don’t recommend ingredients you can't get? Yes they bloody do. Like, for example, Luke Nguyen 

So, as reviewing restaurants on 200 calories per meal isn’t the way forward he has decided to put his not inconsiderable knowledge of how to construct a good cookbook to good use and recommend five books to buy for presents this Christmas.

There are some ground rules; looking pretty folks isn’t at the top of the list in this piece. Gordo is assuming that the person you are buying for is, like the great fat one (the former fat one you mean, Ed), an enthusiastic amateur who accepts that he still needs to learn stuff. Therefore, the book has to have recipes that are explained. So should they require a little complicated monter au beurre-ing, for example, they actual explain somewhere in the tome what monter au bloody beurre-ing is all about and how to actual do it.

Secondly, they have to work. Gordo was completely baffled, thirty years ago, to have one executive of a still well-known publishing company look at him as if he was mental when he explained that he had actually cooked every one of the dishes in The Sunday Times Complete Cookbook and that he should consider removing the recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara as it was a) not authentic, and b) shite.

Thirdly, the ingredients have to be available. Yes, Gordo knows what you are thinking. Surely these chefs and cookery writers don’t do that do they? Yes they bloody do. Like, for example, Luke Nguyen in his beautiful book, Indochine, Baguettes and Bánh Mí: finding France in Vietnam. He keeps irritating Gordo by insisting that the reader should never use tinned coconut milk/water but the water from fresh, young green coconuts. Where is Gordo or any of his readers going to find that ingredient FFS?

If there are pictures, they need to be a facsimile of the finished dish as instructed. Which knocks another one off the list, John Gregory-Smith’s otherwise excellent Mighty Spice. Both the sea bass ceviche, my old son, as well as the (admittedly bloody fabulous) tropical fruit salad with a chilli, star anise, cinnamon and lime dressing look nothing like your pictures. Grrr… this confuses beginners who wish to learn

The point about Gordo going on with himself is to demonstrate that the fat bastard has actually given some thought to this, so here, are Gordo’s recommendations. Buy with confidence, dear readers. You know Gordo is right.

Hix Oyster and Chop House. Mark Hix

Blimey, Gordo loves a fellow food voyager, as Mark Hix undoubtedly is. He owns a couple of restaurants that are getting great reviews, Hix has produced a class book from which we can learn. Not the least, a fantastic chapter on oysters and how to shuck one of the tricky little bleeders. If you fancy smoking your own salmon in the back garden, there are handy instructions. This is something Gordo would love to do if he owned a house in a neighbourhood such as Mossley Hill in Liverpool, West Didsbury in Manchester or Islington, London. Just to piss off Vanessa and Jonnie, the next-door neighbours.

Comfort and Spice: Recipes for Modern Living. Niamh Shields

London based Irish bird Niamh Shields is a delightfully funny member of the usually serially dull London food bloggers. Gordo met her at a private dinner given by Franco Sotgiu, Niamh left the guests with a signed copy of her book which intrigued Gordo with its seventies food photography, simplicity and roster of recipes. Clearly well thought through they are a testament to her passion and enthusiasm. Niamh has turned Gordo onto cooking his own beans as well as an outstandingly brilliant simple dish, spiced roast duck legs with potatoes and pancetta. It is also pretty distinctive in explaining how to make your own butter. Knockout.

Comfort And SpiceComfort And Spice

Heston Blumenthal at home. Heston Blumenthal.

The dead ringer for Brains in Thunderbirds has produced books so far that are completely and utterly useless for anything but masturbation once you have got a bit too blasé with your particular flavour of rumpy pumpy on YouPorn. However, he has a new book out and it works. It needs to be bought, along with a pressure cooker, just to try out his chicken stock. Did Gordo mention the triple cooked chips? Oh dearie me, after a right load of poncing about, entirely do-able by anyone with no brains and lots of patience, these are FUCKING FANTASTIC. Buy it.

The Good Cook. Simon Hopkinson.

All Gordo has to say to you, dear reader, is this. Fried ham and cheese sandwich. Ooooh dear. Promise any sexual favour to your partner in return for him/her/it making these on a night in watching Heat. Or, When Harry met Sally; whatever. This book has the benefit of being matched by Simon’s excellent BBC TV series, which is on the net and the trainee good cook can watch it step by step. Every recipe is a delight. Great investment.

Simon Hopkinson's Ham And Cheese SandwichSimon Hopkinson's Ham And Cheese Sandwich

Cuisine Gourmande. Michel Guérard.

Guérard is God for Gordo. With his three starred Michelin restaurant in south west France, Les Prés d’Eugenie, he can do no wrong. That restaurant is still the best in the world as far as Gordo is concerned and this cookbook, arguably the best ever published. Guérard, along with Paul Bocuse and the Troisgros Brothers revolutionised French cooking thirty years ago.

This book, the best of all the books published by renowned chefs, is the one. Guérard explains the methods clearly, from cooking with steam to sautéing. Step by step, Cuisine Gourmande, along with his daughter’s grandma, Mrs Hague, God bless her, taught Gordo to become a passable cook. The lobster salad featured as a starter when Gordo did the TV programme Come Dine with Me, whilst the poulet au vinaigre de vin, (chicken with wine vinegar) is his all time favourite dinner party dish for four people.

The only problem with this one is that it is out of print, but a little work on the internet will find an old copy. Well worth having.

You can follow Gordo on Twitter @GordoManchester

GuerardMichel Guerard

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AnonymousDecember 5th 2011.

Surely Larousse Gastronomique should be in this list?

pollolocoDecember 6th 2011.

Love the Hopkinson book, did his slow roast rolled lamb breast with onions a few weeks ago.......bloomin lovely.

Gillian CosserDecember 6th 2011.

Cuisine Gourmande. Michel Guérard with C Conran (1978) - available in Hardback via booksellers on Amazon. also paperback version by Michel Guérard and Claude Lebey (2011) again via Amazon ... which one does the man who is a shadow of his former self recommend?

Maggie MilnerDecember 7th 2011.

Simon Hopkinson rocks - his calves liver recipe from The Good Cook is to die for. Went to a dinner hosted by him at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and it was amazing - all recipes from his book. He is also a really nice guy. What about having a word with him Gordo and getting something similar organised in Manchester??

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