Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but ultimately inaccessible, March 12, 2012
This review is from: Desserts (Hardcover)
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Before reading any of this book I decided to flip to the front to make sure I wasn't missing anything important. In small print on the masthead page, it said that times and temperatures were for fan-assisted ovens. Now, I can understand suggesting buying restaurant-style equipment like a chinois sieve, but who's going to shell out for a convection oven just to be able to do restaurant-style desserts?

Michel Roux is a long-standing and well-respected chef and cookbook writer; that's unquestionable. (In fact, one of the first cookbooks I ever bought for myself was one of his, with his brother.) For all that, I feel like I should be expecting a more accessible book; there's only so far a home chef can go to duplicate the restaurant kitchen, and it feels like Roux isn't quite meeting his readers at that halfway point. The recipes are certainly interesting, ranging widely from poached pears to Génoise cake (curiously anglicized as "Genoese") to kataifi to brownies (the cover shot), so you'll certainly find many exciting ideas for your dinner parties. And there are a few recipes that serve as models for others, and include extra photography. The food photography is as nice as you'd expect from a British-produced cookbook, although the Bodoni-style text font it's printed in is quite strange and a little jarring. Also, something that really jumped out at me -- Roux is a fan of stevia, not only in its artificial sweetener form, but as an herb in its own right. If nothing else, you have to give him points for creativity.

But this is one of those cookbooks where it's not at all clear who the audience is. He uses odd ingredients -- liquid glucose? Don't you have to go to a brew shop for that or something? He seems to use only commercial kitchens for recipe testing, if the odd statement on the masthead is any indication. A lot of these recipes simply shouldn't be attempted by a beginner for those reasons; you'd have to be a reasonably good cook to be sure you know your way around them. Overall, the book reminds me of Charlie Trotter's cooking show -- great for food porn, but any chef that assumes you have duck fat/liquid glucose lying around or readily available doesn't get out of the restaurant nearly enough.

(And yes, there's a significant binding issue with this press run, but if you're reading this a year or three from when I wrote this, it probably won't be an issue in later printings.)
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2012 5:15:27 PM PST
Anonymous says:
A restaurant-quality oven is not necessary for convection; most of your basic ovens that a person could purchase at Home Depot or the like can be had with a convection option. Convection is what 'fan-assisted' is referring to.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 9:34:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 4, 2012 9:37:32 PM PST
It is my understanding that home convection ovens frequently aren't sufficient to the task, and certainly most people who have them only have the toaster-size ones. Not to mention, even with a smaller convection oven, it's still a big whack of money for someone who doesn't already have one; it's not like buying a scale (or, as I mentioned above, a chinois). That's more or less where I was going with that.

Posted on Apr 24, 2013 7:43:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 24, 2013 7:45:21 AM PDT
L. Gurina says:
I suppose it was initially written for the UK audience. Here liquid glucose is not a rare ingridient, it can be found in the baking section of (almost) every supermarket.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2013 6:08:23 PM PST
I'm in Australia where fan forced (assisted) full sized ovens are just about the norm in home kitchens and glucose syrup is in the baking aisle of the supermarket plus duck fat tubs are in the supermarket meat case.

Isn't it always the way when you buy a book from another country... you wonder "what is that?", "where do you get it" and for me half the fun.

Where I am I have trouble finding 'corn syrup' and many other ingredients you would find commonplace. Recipe books here still have the temperature adjustments between 'fan' and 'no fan' and it is just turning the oven up a bit when you don't a have fan i.e 160 celsius fan becomes 180 celsius no fan.
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