Randy Motilall grew up in a Caribbean household in America and learned cooking from his parents, who taught him the joy of re-creating dishes for friends and family. In this cookbook, Motilall uses those skills to offer up a wide range of cuisines, from American to Asian to Latin American and more.
The book’s title, he writes in the preface, has nothing to do with formality. Rather, “regardless of gender, job, or location, we can all tap our inner gentleman to enjoy life a little bit more.” The recipes run the gamut from cocktails to desserts. They include drinks, such as The Lady Slipper, a combination of citrus vodka and lemonade; main courses like Braised Beef Short Ribs and Herb Polenta; breakfast entrees, such as Chicken and Waffles, and decadent desserts, including Glazed Donut Bread Pudding and Butter-Rum Caramel Sauce.
There’s much to like about this cookbook. Motilall offers full-page color pictures of each recipe and provides easy-to-follow, step-by-step cooking instructions, plating advice and even vegetarian substitutes. Many dishes are delicious and easy-to-prepare. The Brazilian Cheese Bread comes together quickly in a blender before baking, yielding an addictive dinner party treat.
However, most of the recipes are best suited for an experienced cook who can overlook some of the book’s problems. Motilall assumes that cooks can figure out serving sizes and that their skills are sharp enough to understand unusual ingredients or equipment (ring molds, for example) without his direction. Additionally, there’s no friendly commentary or helpful hints with each recipe to give the cookbook a more personal touch. The steps are en pointe —a plus—but there are a number of copyediting errors, some unimportant; others, such as the missing amount of saffron in a recipe, less easily overlooked.
Motilall’s cookbook has some delicious keepers; the Creamed Spinach, for instance, is a solid recipe to enhance any meal. But this eclectic cookbook will be most appreciated by the advanced cook who enjoys a challenge.
Also available as an ebook.