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My Favourite Ingredients
on 9 September 2013
There are some great recipes in this book, for the most part very simple to prepare.
The opening chapter looks at asparagus and there are two gorgeous starters in the form of asparagus with Tabasco butter or with a tomato dressing and crème fraiche. There are some lovely looking fish and seafood dishes dotted around the book - for example crab cakes with corn purée and chilli oil (and made with home-made mayonnaise), monkfish curry with coconut, lime & curry leaves, sea bass with mint, tomatoes & red onions. There is a nice looking recipe for lobster with white beans, tarragon & tomatoes but I couldn't freeze a live lobster to make it 'soporific' and then boil it to death! I should perhaps say that I am a vegetarian with family & friends who are confirmed carnivores for whom I will cook most things.
There are plenty of slow-cooked meat dishes which always seem to go down well - a roasted shoulder of beef from Tuscany or slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with a sauce of fennel, chilli, garlic and anchovies which smells divine too. There are a few game recipes including grilled rabbit with lentils, braised guinea fowl plus partridge, quail, mallard, pigeon, grouse & pheasant.
There aren't many purely vegetarian recipes but the wild garlic & white bean curry is good (you can add white fish to it if you want to but the basic recipe is vegetarian and really doesn't need anything extra) and there is a squash & tomato curry which can be 'vegged' by omitting the fish sauce. There is a also an excellent basic borlotti bean dish using fresh beans, which I love, when available and dried beans for the rest of the year.
There are some desserts, such as ice cream, a pink grapefruit & sherry sorbet (you'll need an ice-cream maker to churn) and a nice hazelnut tart which is really simple to make.
This isn't a book I pick up regularly but it is useful for ideas when I have certain ingredients to hand. The book is arranged thematically by ingredient e.g. citrus, tomatoes, asparagus, pulses, game, leaves, garlic, nuts. Unfortunately this means that recipes tend to pop up in a rather random fashion rather than being grouped according to the type of dish e.g. all starters together. One reviewer has commented to the effect that the recipes are more complicated than Nigella/Delia but for the most part I don't think that's true. There are a few fiddly recipes e.g. some of the seafood dishes but overall not many.