Before I started writing this review, I Google-imaged James Ramsden's name.
"Why?" you might wonder. Well, because I wanted to see a photo of him.
"Why is that?" you might again ask. And the answer to that is that I had an image of him when I finished reading his 'Small Adventures in Cooking' and I wanted to see if I was correct.
In my head, James Ramsden looked not unlike a young(er) Jamie Oliver and I pictured him pottering around a (rather small) kitchen in surfer shorts and flip flops (yeah yeah I know they're not appropriate kitchen footwear). Because his food philosophy seems to be chill out. The only rules of cooking are there are no rules. Oh except for have fun. And if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.
In his debut cookbook, Ramsden demystifies cooking. With eight sections ranging from 'Corner shop capers' (Fare for when you've been drinking and/or are hungover) to 'Surfing the stumbling blocks' (recipes for those foods that can give even experienced cooks slight heart palpitations - souffle anyone?), 'Small Adventures' is a guide that will see you through most cooking scenarios.
His recipes are interesting yet not too complicated, impressive but totally achievable. And best of all, they're for me and you; people with jobs who don't have hours to spend cooking a meal which will be devoured in minutes. People who can find their way round a kitchen but don't have culinary school training. And it is food that covers all sorts of food genres - there are curries and chicken livers, English muffins and meringues. On my 'To make ASAP' list are the Thai pork patties, cheese toast with a twist, goat curry, 6 cheese and ale fondue and the chocolate, chili and cardamom tart!
One of my qualms with this book is not to do with the content but rather the design. Don't get me wrong, it is very cool. But that's exactly it. It feels too much like a boys book. I like my cook books with a huge picture of some glossy, mouthwatering dish on the cover that makes me want to lick it because I know that my version will never look that good. But perhaps that is the point, that the book isn't intimidating. Like the content, the cover and design isn't setting standards so high that the reader can't fail but fall dismally short of.
Oh, you're probably wondering if the picture of James Ramsden looked like the surfer my imagination produced. He didn't. Which is a good thing - my surfer dude probably couldn't string two sentences together (he's wearing flip flops in a kitchen after all!); much less write a very good cook book.
Now for the GIVEAWAY!
I'm giving away the copy of James Ramsden's 'Small Adventures in Cooking' which the lovely people at Quadrille Books sent me. There is one mandatory way to enter and additional ways to gain entries into the giveaway:
CLOSING DATE - Midnight on FRIDAY 1st JULY (Giveaway now closed)
Rules and How to Enter
1) Giveaway is open to everyone with a UK mailing address
2) For the mandatory way to enter, leave a comment below telling me what your speciality dish is. Y'know, that dish you cook when you're trying to impress, or on short notice?
3) For another entry, follow my blog using the Google Friend Connect 'Follow' button on the right of my blog. Leave a separate comment to tell me you have done this or if you are already following
4) For yet another entry, follow me on Twitter @vickii373 and leave a comment here to tell me you are following me on Twitter and what your username is. Let me know if you're already following me.