If you are a regular visitor then you will already be familiar with Paul Gayler’s cookbooks. For those others who are visiting for the first time I’ll introduce you. Paul is the chef of The Lanesborough, one of the smartest spots in London. He has written a collection of cookbooks which act as showcase for his unarguable skills and a source of pleasure for his readers.
This book has the same quality of recipes, the same conversational style but it’s little. The clue is in the title, Paul Gayler’s Little Book of Pasta & Noodles. It’s a condensed volume that has a single focus, in this case of Pasta and Noodles. There are 50 or so recipes here for meals that are easy and fast. A baked dish might take 20 minutes but you’ll not be talking to it through the oven door for the duration – you’ll be finishing The Times crossword or watching the Simpsons. And the majority of dishes take half that time.
Paul has, as always, found recipes that offer something a bit different. These dishes never seem contrived or cheffy. They are written with the home cook in mind and range from traditional to innovative with a bit of fusion for good measure.
Pasta making isn’t as frightening as you might think. If this writer can do it then you’ll have no problem. Paul supplies a basic recipe but if you don’t feel confident then use the commercial pasta, but do make the sauces.
Pasta Carbonara is a dish oft-found on Italian restaurant menus. It has few ingredients but those ingredients produce a rich and comforting sauce. Paul also suggests Funghi Carbonara which is a vegetarian version of the original and should become a classic. This dish takes only as long as the pasta takes to cook – 8 minutes or so for dried pasta and even less than that for fresh.
I am a lover of a good baked pasta. They are hearty and comforting dishes and take no more preparation than a regular bowl of pasta. Baked Smoked Haddock Pasta has my vote. This isn’t a vegetarian option as it has a little bacon but that bacon does add to the flavourful result.
Spicy Vegetable and Cashew Ramen is a colourful and tasty dish that you’ll be eating in ten minutes. Paul uses sugar-snap peas, red peppers, aubergine and shiitake mushrooms, although the dressing would work well with almost any combination of vegetables.
Paul Gayler tempts the reader into the kitchen. He is neither intimidating nor patronising. You will use his books because the food is delicious. The Little Book of Pasta and Noodles is an attractive volume but Paul will be very pleased if it’s covered with tomato sauce, flour and a flake or two of pecorino.
Cookbook review: Paul Gayler’s Little Book of Pasta and Noodles
Author: Paul Gayler
Published by Kyle Cathie
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018