A highlight of my food blog is the opportunity I get to review fabulous cook books. Having written my own book last year, I have a fair idea about what goes into the making of them. One of the cook books that has impressed me the most recently is – Lessons with Liam by Liam Tomlin.
This is not just a recipe book, although you will find many classic and very interesting recipes amongst the selection, this is a book about basic cooking skills and techniques.
If you haven’t been through chef school and are eager to become more of a kitchen ninja, this book is most definitely the one for you.
Liam, who has worked in professional kitchens his whole life, has a very impressive pedigree, and owns a cookery school noticed that when teaching, people lacked knowledge of very basic cooking techniques and mastering these is the foundation to become a better cook.
Its beautifully photographed by well known food photographer Russell Smith, who has managed to turn all the step by step recipes into works of art. Even though I have been to Hotel School (way back when) – it was fabulous to brush up on some of my knowledge, and as a visual person, this book is laden with pictures which make it easy to follow and a delight to look at.
The book is filled to the brim with tips and advice from Liam. It’s just like having a professional chef in your kitchen. The chapters cover everything from stocks, sauces, dressings, salads, fish, meat, vegetables, grains, potatoes, to pastry and knife skills.
What I really enjoyed was that interspersed throughout the book were a collection of recipes that are interesting and sound quite delicious. Having also tasted a few of these at the book launch, I know they are delicious too. So while you are learning to debone a duck or make beurre blanc, you can be inspired by dishes like miso salmon, sweetcorn and basil soup, tartare of tuna with togarashi dressing and the pear tart tartin.
Both classic and modern, presented beautifully and explained with precision, this is a must-have book for the serious cook, and I will use it for the rest of my life.
Trying to pick recipe for this review was tricky, but I made a pavlova recently and had 6 egg yolks left over, so the vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect solution.
Vanilla bean ice cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 250ml milk
- 250ml fresh cream
- 6 egg yolks (free range)
- 85g caster sugar
Split the vanilla pot lengthways and scrape out the seeds and add it to a pot with the milk and cream and heat. Once it has reached the boil, remove it from the heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for 15 minutes.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and fluffy and doubled in volume.
Return the vanilla milk back to the heat and bring it back to the boil. Add half of this to the egg mixture (whisking all the time) and when this is mixed, add the other half. Now empty the egg custard mix back into the pot (Liam indicates putting it in a clean pot, but I just put it into the used pot which was fine), and cook over a low heat for about 8 – 10 minutes until it has thickened. Stir constantly. To test whether the custard is ready coat the back of a spoon with it and run your finger across, if the custard mix stays apart in a line it is thick enough. It is also ready if it reaches 82 C / 175 F on a thermometer.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and then Liam suggested placing the bowl over ice to cool it down whilst you stir it further to prevent a skin from forming. I skipped this step, placed some cling film over the top and let it cool at room temperature and then in the fridge slightly.
Pour the mix into an electric ice-cream maker and churn this until it is firm. When its made, transfer this into a storage container and freeze until you are read to serve. Allow the ice cream to soften slightly at room temp before serving.
Liam offers and array of flavour variations with this incredible recipe. But you are going to have to buy the book to find out about those.
This recipe was absolutely delicious. Rich, creamy and dare I say, unctuous. It will be what I whip up every single time I make a pavlova and have 6 egg yolks lying around. It is also the perfect thing to serve with a pavlova too.
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