Nothing brings sunshine to rain-soaked British summers like Caribbean tastes, which makes the release of Patrick Williams's The Caribbean Cook
very timely indeed. These recipes are lush and tempting, glorifying the hot, sweet Caribbean flavours. Starters include sticky Crab and Mango Salad and velvety Roast Plantain Soup with Ginger Chantilly; mains boast crunchy-sweet Coconut Chicken and Deep Fried Squid in Curry Batter; gooshy desserts like Sweet Banana Fritters and Carmelised Pineapple with Tamarind Ice Cream abound.
Traditional Caribbean ingredients star in many of the dishes: shiny red ackee fruit pairs with fresh salted cod; green bananas bolster fried kingfish; callaloo, plantains and christophene are sprinkled liberally throughout breakfast, barbecue, and even dessert recipes.
Williams also likes to mix Caribbean spice with British favourites: his Bubble and Squeak features a buttery-rich blob of yams; turmeric and lime give mellow sparkle to Roast Chicken, and a traditional fry-up sizzles with roast breadfruit and peppery baked beans.
However, if you like a bit of context with your cooking, Williams doesn't provide much. An established professional and celebrity chef, who has had stints with the Criterion and Titanic restaurants and has presented children's cooking programmes, his book feels like restaurant fare sent straight to market, with little provision or adaptation for the home cook. Williams writes a colourful introduction and includes a handy glossary for the ingredients, but beyond that, there's nothing more than the recipes. With those, instructions are basic, photos are few--and the absence of context and homeliness, especially concerning such a warm, richly historical cusine, leaves the book a little flat. But if you're happy to skip the stories and get right to the seared blackened salmon, The Caribbean Cook can deliver.--Marisa Lencioni
About the Author
In 1997, Patrick Williams was appointed Head Chef at Green Champagne and Oyster Bar in London, before moving on to work for Marco Pierre White at both the Titanic and the Criterion restaurants. He has co-presented 'Hey Pesto', a cookery series for children, on cable television and has more recently been filming a series for Carlton Food Network.