107 Cookbooks Rotating Header Image

January 31st, 2010:

Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite: Good Food, No Yelling

kale, chorizo, and potato soup

StewInBowlI’ve never watched “Hell’s Kitchen” or any of Gordon Ramsay‘s other cooking shows, and I’ve never seen any footage of him yelling at the people under his command. I don’t approve of that sort of behavior, and because of that I wouldn’t have set out to buy this cookbook. But I missed one of the deadlines to let the cookbook club know I didn’t want the selection of the month, then lost the box WeighingKaleunder a pile of junk on my desk until it seemed too late to return it.

Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite doesn’t hint at any of the “Hell’s Kitchen” temper or conflict. The book brims with beautiful color photos of a cheery blond chef and his delicious but healthy food. In the introduction Ramsay insists he’s been passionate about KalePotatoesStagedhealthy lifestyle since 2000, and that while “I don’t believe in diets” (which is typically chef-speak for “I don’t count calories and I use butter”) he does believe that good food made with the right ingredients can help people live more healthfully. The right ingredients are of course fresh, locally sourced, and naturally low in fat (vegetables, lean cuts of meat, etc.).

AddingPotatoesSaltPepperThe recipes do look good. There are some terrific-looking salad and vegetable dishes, plus a lot of oily fish and whole grains. There are also poached eggs, beef roasts and lamb; there is no sense of deprivation here. Of course everything in the photos is gorgeously plated. And quite a few of the recipes are fast and simple, suitable for weeknight cooking.

BringingToBoil2The recipe I chose for tonight — kale, chorizo and potato soup — would be a good weeknight option, though it was also quite satisfactory for a Sunday spent working on other projects at home. It’s also a good winter dish, which made it stand out from the tomato- and pepper-rich beauties that are going to have to wait until the Greenmarket is in full swing.

AddingKale3To make the soup I started with my prep: I rinsed, stemmed and chopped some kale, chopped two onions, minced two cloves of garlic, and diced two red potatoes, while Scott diced a couple of links of chicken sausage with jalapeno. (There was no actual chorizo at the grocery store I went to; this seemed the closest thing.) I heated some olive oil in a pot and sauteed the onions and AddingKalegarlic, then added the sausage and let that cook for a few minutes. Then I added the diced potatoes, salt and pepper, and some water, brought the mixture to a boil, and let it simmer for about 12 minutes. When the timer went off I stirred in the kale and let it cook for another five minutes, then dished up the soup.

This was a tasty dish. Actual StewInBowls3chorizo would have given it a different taste — a more rich, warm peppery heat instead of the sharp heat of the jalapeno — and probably have made the soup a little fattier, though not in a bad way. The flavors complemented one another well: rich onion, slightly bitter kale, mild potato, savory sausage. I was afraid the liquid would be too thin, but I think using broth instead of water would have overwhelmed the other flavors.

Verdict: Success. I’ll want to make this again at least once more before the end of the winter.