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My Favorite Ingredients Paperback – February 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this age of chemistry-experiment cooking, it's refreshing to remember that some chefs still find their greatest inspiration in the simplest of elements. In this readable, colorful volume, London chef Gyngell (Petersham Nurseries Café) chooses 16 of her favorite foods and showcases their versatility with highly original recipes. Asserting that her cuisine is mostly produce-driven and seasonally sensitive, Gyngell cooks to highlight natural subtleties rather then wring unusual sensations with elaborate technique. Chapters are paeans to topics such as asparagus, leaves, and apples, beginning with lyrical yet informative descriptions of the ingredient at hand, including tips on preparation, selection, storage, and, in some cases, how to grow it at home. The simple dishes that follow are sophisticated yet easy to make (provided there's access to some of her more obscure ingredients like Malanca and partridge): an arranged plate of clementines, Medjool dates, pomegranates and honeyed almonds with a dab of mascarpone cheese; seared skirt steak with hazelnut and wilted escarole; a layered salad of peppery kohlrabi, sweet fresh crab and crisp apple. The result is an idiosyncratic cookbook, and, in her understated way, Gyngell has much to offer curious cooks. Photos. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Cookbooks are a bit like plays, in that the English seem to have a real knack for producing them, and send the best ones across the pond once they’re tried and tested. My Favorite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell is yet another great new cookery book by a London-based writer. Gyngell, who is the chef at London’s acclaimed Petersham Nurseries Café, has arranged this book around 16 of her favorite ingredients such as “leaves” to “cherries” to “honey.” This quirky organizing principle makes the book feel very personal, like a good friend hanging out with you in the kitchen. Gyngell writes in her introduction: “Nature provides ingredients in the same season that go together perfectly.” Indeed, the recipes (many of which stem from the restaurant’s repertoire) are unquestionably refined, but they also feel somehow holistic and pure. The recipe for chicken with garlic and fennel, which results in a kind of herbal chicken bouillabaisse, is alone worth the price of the book.”
—The Daily Beast, Best Cookbooks of 2010, 12/4/10

"A great way to reinforce the beauty and logic behind the farm-to-table movement that drives so much of the food culture these days. . . .the variety of recipes—Cherry Cordial, Sauce Vierge, Kohlrabi, Lamb with Tomatoes and Horseradish Dressing—are interesting and unusual enough to have you cooking for a long time."
—, 4/9/10

"From asparagus to chocolate, it's hard not to turn the pages and feel inspired."
—Apartment Therapy's, 3/30/10

"England's next great cookbook. . . . Our latest British cookbook obsession."
— National Edition, 3/12/10

"Inspired by seasonal eating, Skye Gyngell has assembled her favorite ingredients and given them star treatment in casual, stunning recipes. The lush flavor combinations are daring but not at all fussy, and her mindful use of ingredients and simple techniques result in utterly embraceable food. . . .It's truly good food you can truly feel good about, and it's little wonder that Alice Waters adores her."
—AOL, 3/11/10

“Cooking delicious food depends on the choice of ingredients. Skye understands this and insists on seasonal, ripe, and sustainably produced foods. This book is beautiful and important, emphasizing the quality of ingredients and simple cooking techniques.”  
—Alice Waters, founder, Chez Panisse
“Skye so clearly adores her gorgeous ingredients that one almost forgets a recipe has actually been constructed. I see them more as deeply intelligent and respectful marriages that sing and dance off the page.” 
—Simon Hopkinson, author of Roast Chicken and Other Stories

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580080502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580080507
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on March 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
A "produce-driven" cook, English chef Gyngell showcases 16 foods - from asparagus and cherries to game birds and fish. On heavy stock, this softcover includes luscious photos of the raw ingredients as well as the final presentation. Each chapter offers a primer on the featured food - choosing, cooking, storing, as well as tips for pairing with other ingredients.

"I have often thought that my very last meal on this earth would have to be some sort of salad," Gyngell says, opening her Leaves chapter. So it's no surprise that her salads are pretty special. The Roasted Vegetable Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes and a yogurt dressing, awakens the mouth with bright, earthy, sweet and tangy flavors as each vegetable (beets, sweet potato, onion, fennel, tomato) gets a slightly different roasting treatment. Other salads (there are many) include Lobster with Fennell and Blood Oranges; Salad of Warm Torn Bread, Poached Egg, and Parmesan Dressing; and Warm Pheasant Salad with Tardivo (radicchio), Pickled Cherries and Toasted Hazelnuts.

From the Vinegar chapter comes Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb with Red Wine Vinegar, and from Olive Oil comes Wild Sea Bass with Salmoriglio (an oregano pesto-like sauce). Other main dishes include Chicken with Figs and Honey (Honey), Goat Cheese Soufflé with Lemon Thyme (Cheese), Squid with Peppers, Red Wine, and Wild Marjoram (Fish & Shellfish), Wild Garlic and White Bean Curry (Beans & Grains).

Brief intros and side notes offer tips for cooking and serving and often explain how ingredients complement one another. Gyngell is fond of bold, clean flavors and her book offers a refreshing collection for the innovative cook.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Walker VINE VOICE on April 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book based solely on the mention of one recipe, Chicken with garlic and fennel, in a "best of 2010" list, and that recipe did not disappoint. Skye Gyngell introduces the recipe by calling it "quick, simple, and satisfying." Let me state up front that her definition of quick and simple is very different than mine. I have many "quick-easy-healthy-delicious-weeknight-meals" cookbooks, and as someone with a fulltime job and a daily big-city commute, I treasure them. This is not one of those books; it is an entirely different breed. Those cookbooks are pulp fiction to Gyngell's Shakespeare. (I happen to like both.) I bought the book as a paperback, but it gives me a very leather-and-gilt vibe.

I buy cookbooks the way some women buy shoes and have over a hundred on my shelves. This is one of the most beautiful and inspiring. The many photos are gorgeous. If there's an award for food photography, it should be awarded to Jason Lowe. I wish the "search inside this book" function was available, so you could see a sample. And Gyngell's writing shines in her chosen role as a prophet of local, seasonal ingredient based cooking.

Besides the recipe I already mentioned, some other jewels: Nectarine and tomato salad with prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella; Tomato and bread soup; Pecan and maple syrup ice cream (are those two ingredients really local to London?); and (honey hush!) Fried egg with sage, chile, and garlicky yogurt. I could go on, but you'll think I need therapy.

This is a beautiful book. It makes me want to read, and it makes me want to cook. More so, it makes me want to try techniques and ingredients relatively intimidating to me. (And I don't mean anything exotic. I cut up my first whole chicken for the previously-mentioned Chicken with garlic and fennel. Lame, I know.) Deliciously pushing a home cook out of her comfort zone? That may be one of the highest compliments I can pay a cookbook.
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By francis c on January 29, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
simple food, done well...
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BettyBoop on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is split up into chapters of the author/chef's favourite ingredients and from there she says why she favours them and them proceeds to give us her favouring recipes that contain the ingredient.

I love the book and i really enjoy reading it! In fact, any foodie would :) Even though few of the things she puts in are quite expensive, but i still really enjoy reading this book. It also really puts me in the mood to cook really fresh foods! :)
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