Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay is an exploration into one of life’s ultimate pleasures - unconstrained informal dining solace.

Simple of course, this should be – fun, food and friends in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere but how frequently it becomes a stressed chore. From planning the perfect menu to tactical organising of shopping, let alone the cooking. However proficient a cook, ideas often seem arid and that image of an elegant table remains just a stale idea, beautifully photographed in a glossy magazine.




The essence of Cooking for Friends is to slow down, relax and have fun with the friends and family that you cook for. Choose good quality seasonal produce which maintains it’s poise and no requirement for elaborate techniques or trendy processes. Invite friends into the kitchen and delegate courses though I did have a tiny (indulgent) giggle at reading:




I (Gordon Ramsay) get nervous (what?..... Gordon, nervous?) if people tell me that they follow my recipes word for word. A recipe is a guideline. Adding, subtracting, evolving it – that is part of the pleasure...,” though he proffers sound advice in “the method is what matters…anyone can learn, but you need focus, proper understanding, and to go at the right pace, not running before you can walk.




Only a few years ago I would have cringed at the mere thought of inviting friends into the kitchen, let alone ask anyone to help prepare a meal, but as times change we have the opportunity of change too . I now feel quite relaxed with this thought, though would strongly suggest being properly equipped with all the ingredients easily at hand.




This is an invitation to visit Gordon Ramsay at home - a far cry from his exuberant TV persona. As with all great Chefs who spend their days in frantic kitchens, the love of excellent food never evades but, home cooking is a relaxed, informal affair. Cooking for Friends is just this - a collection of uncomplicated recipes which he himself loves to cook and eat with friends and family.




Arranged in clear chapters, delve into over 100 recipes which celebrate British Cuisine – but as we have come to expect, with a Ramsay twist. There are hot and cold soups, pasta and grains, fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, pies and tarts, vegetables and salads, puddings and ices, chocolate and coffee, and basic recipes which includes a variety of stocks and pastries such as Sweet Walnut Pastry and Walnut and Parmesan Pastry.



Ideas are inspired but straightforward – simplified from unnecessary complication, yet his quality and flavours remain. Colourful soups – some velvety smooth such as the emerald green Creamy Sorrel Soup, others, chunky like Crayfish Chowder, are a meal in itself. Flavoursome main dishes such as Smoked Haddock with White Beans and Parsley, Cider and Honey Roast Leg of Lamb or Shepherd’s Pie with Branston Pickle are outstanding, followed by desserts which groan with comfort – Pear and Frangipane Tart, Peach, Raspberry and Ginger Crumble, buttery Bakewell Tart and a billowing, rich Lemon Meringue Pie.



Pages already thumbed and spattered, this is my new kitchen accomplice.



So to take The Maestro literally, I prepared recipes to the letter and delight in sharing Honey Roast Leg of Lamb and Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with you - fear not Gordon, they are sublime!


Cooking for Friends by Gordon Ramsay, published by Harper Collins price GBP 25. Food photography by Ditte Isager.







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