‘At home’ has certain connotations – even when it’s a cookbook from a top-drawer celebrity chef. I was expecting uncomplicated, tasty, flavourful food when I picked this 2016 book up to review. You know the sort of thing – stuff you might make anyway but pimped for a bit of added interest. And yes, there are versions of Lasagne (pg 41), a chilli (pg 51) and a burger (pg 48). But there is so much more. New techniques to try, brining and smoking in particular. Ingredients that will tease and test. Fun flavour combinations – Gin and Tonic Cheesecake anyone? Yes please!
Look and feel
This is an actual cookbook – it’s not a travelogue, monologue or political commentary with recipes. That might seem like a strange thing to say, but increasingly I’m picking up a lot of the other type. (I was actually all set to publish a review of another cookbook recently when an outbreak of hostilities in far away parts made it seem like very bad timing and I shelved it.)
After the introduction, the recipes are broken out by when you might cook them – midweek, weekend, entertaining, with separate chapters for baking and basic stuff. The ‘Weekend’ section includes some great brunch ideas and the ‘Entertaining’ section recognizes, with prepare-ahead ideas, that you need to be host and cook.
The food is centre-stage in the imagery from Jonathan Gregson, although Marcus, with his infectious smile, appears here and there too.
What sort of food is it?
There’s a bit of everything here. Great slow cooked meat recipes and light and airy fish dishes; desserts you can whip up and toss in the fridge on the day you need them, and desserts that you need to be thinking about a week ahead (looking at you, Prune and Armagnac Tart Pg 160).
I cooked a Haddock Gratin (pg64) from the midweek meals and a Confit Duck Leg from the Entertaining section (pg 195). The Gratin was tasty and will be made again. The Confit Duck Leg was exceptional enough to make me think this book should be called ‘Cook Fabulous Restaurant Food In Your Own Home’, not really catchy enough I suppose.
Obscure equipment needed?
You’re not going to cook many of these recipes in a camper van for sure, but a reasonably well equipped kitchen should have everything you would need.
Ingredients easily available?
Yes and no. There are loads of recipes that contain nothing out of the usual way so, assuming your storecupboard is well stocked with spices, tins and pulses, a visit to the local butcher or fishmonger and greengrocer should be enough. And then there are the not so easy things to find – Yuzu juice would probably need access to a specialist grocer. Strangely, I found it nearly impossible to source Duck Legs that hadn’t already been cooked, in the end I had to buy a whole duck and take the legs off. And then there is the dilemma when you need a tiny amount of something and you have to buy a whole bottle. I really want to try the slow-cooked smoked beef short rib (pg 127) – but I am looking at the tablespoon of Marmite in the ingredients and wondering what I would do with the rest of the jar.
Who is it for?
Probably not for the totally new cook – but if you are a reasonably seasoned home cook this book would be a fantastic way to up your game without going mad altogether.
Regular blog readers will know that I am very promiscuous when it comes to recipe selection, flitting from one book to another without a backward glance. I’ve been toying with the idea of challenging myself to pick a cookbook and cook every recipe in it. One of the problems I’m having with this challenge is selecting the right book, and this might just be it…….although Marcus has a new book coming out very soon so I might just wait!
Find it on Amazon here
And from Eason’s here
Published by: Harper Collins Publishers, London
Sounds great / if you do decide to do the beef with Marmite – and you want to use it up:
Add a teaspoon or two of Marmite to meaty stews, Bolognese or French onion soup to add a deep, savoury umami flavour.
Spread over roast chicken before cooking for gorgeously golden, salty skin, or mix into mince to make delicious burgers.
Try it on toast topped with poached eggs.
Add to hot oil before roasting potatoes
Marmite is a perfect partner to cheese – add a twist to Welsh Rarebit, mix into cheesy puff pastry palmiers, or bake some cheese and Marmite scones
Roast with nuts to make a moreish snack
Believe it or not, it can even be used in something sweet. Marmite chocolate brownies, anyone? If you find this hard to stomach, think salted caramel and chocolate, the flavour trend of the past year!