Saturday, April 28, 2007

On the shelf

I'm just all of a dither, all these cookbooks that I had on pre-order at have been winging their way to me over the last few weeks and as I have unsuccessfully managed to instate an eighth day to enable me to dedicate to reading cookbooks, I've been flitting excitedly from one to another like a demented culinary butterfly!
So where do I start?
The Great British Menu Cookbook doesn't just have all the recipes we see them produce on the television for the chefs' attempts to get to Paris there's also another recipe in each section from all of the chefs and a few of these look particularly tasty, Richard Corrigan's Colcannon Soup and Nick Nairn's Mussell Bree for starters. There's also Jeremy Lee's Salad of Potatoes, Arbroath Smokie, Ayreshire Bacon & Soft-Boiled Egg, Galton Blackiston's Cromer Crab Tart, Mark Hix's Hot Spider Crab Pâté, Noel McMeel's rather verbose Smoked Eel Mousse with Boxty Pancakes, Horseradish & Mustard Grain Cream & Fresh Herb Salad, Galton's Rich Chocolate Mousse with Blood Orange Sorbet and many more including Richard Corrigan's Cranberry & Clementine Crumble with Stem Ginger Ice Cream.
Staying with the soup recipes the first recipes in Marcus Wareing's fabulous How to cook the perfect... are French Onion Soup, Leek & Potato Soup and Clam Chowder. I was lucky to win Silvena Rowe's Feasts at the Harvey Nichols Spring Fête and on first glance my eyes fell on Blinis and Smoked Salmon Potato Cakes with Garlic Cream.
Angela Hartnett's Cucina is a real "from the heart infused with her family memories" cookbook and I'm really looking forward to immersing myself in it. The White Onion Velouté at the beginning of the soup chapter is a great start and then immediately followed by the Creamy Mushroom and then Pumpkin Soup. The pasta chapter holds lots of delights with Tagliatelle with Summer Truffle, Tagliatelle with Peas and Parma Ham, Anolini, Crab Linguine and then there's some stunning risottos.
I've always been a fan of Trish Deseine but nobody does it better is just a fantastic cookbook, definitely her best. I'm utterly biased as I'm such a Francophile but within moments of lifting the cover for the first time I was thinking about splashing out on some truffles, Ripe Truffled Brie sounds sublime, Hazelnut, Mont d'Or & Cured Beef Quiche sounds amazing also. Then there's Pan-Fried Foie Gras with Overrips Figs and how decadent does Soft-Boiled Eggs with Truffle Butter Eggy Soldiers sound?
Marcus Wareing's first cookbook is a "calm down, be prepared and strive for perfection" sort of book, it's clean, precise and confident not homely and rustic like Angela's but equally as good in another way. In fact both Gordon Ramsay's protégés have produced impressive tomes in their first forays into cookbook writing but they couldn't be more diverse. The recipes seem deceptively simple but clearly display great meticulousness, I don't think Marcus can do something that isn't faultless. His Fish Pie looks tasty yet immaculate, the Fish Cakes exact, a perfect Beef Hotpot, Three-Pepper Steak, Corned Beef Rösti and Griddle Lamb Chop. He has two recipes for perfect mash, soft butter-enriched mash and velvety rich pommes mousseline. I was only saying D on my last trip to Cambridge how much I fancied having a go at Omelette Arnold Bennett and Marcus's version looks fabulous. This is an accomplished book and demand much greater studying.
Italian cooking has always been a little less refined but as Angela's book shows is ever bit as mouthwatering as an other cuisine. You just want to dip your fork into the Grilled Lobster, the Roast Chicken with Lemon, Thyme & Garlic will make you lick your lips and I'd be really happy if if any of the following were placed in front of me - Chicken Cacciatore, Veal Chops with Sage & Parma Ham, the classic Saltimbocca, Roast Leg of Lamb, Stuffed Rabbit Legs or Braised Beef in Red Wine.
And then there's Trish Deseine's how to cook more like a Frenchwoman cook book (though Trish is actually Irish) again with so many luscious sounding treats namely: Rosace of Scallops & Truffles, Baby Leek & Reblochon Pie, the unusual sounding Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts & Smoked Salmon, the equally curious but definitely worth a try Duck, Cep & Foie Gras Shepherd's Pie, the classic Bistro dish Bacon & Poached Egg Salad and an old brunch favourite Crocque Monsieur or (my personal preference) Crocque Madame. There's a chapter of old faithfuls, classic French dishes that would part of many a Frenchwoman's repertoire and recipes we've all heard of and then a whole chapter of some very intriguing new classics that will definitely worth exploring. And if all that wasn't enough there's a chapter on stealing from chefs, copying some of the star chef's signature dishes. The first one being an utter favourite of mine - la Purée de Robuchon, which I will get to finally taste in the potato flesh soon, but there's also fascinating Alain Ducasse Pizza au Chocolat and the revolutionary Hélène Darroze with her Landes Country Chicken Stuffed with Macaroni & Foie Gras and Black Truffle Ice Cream.
So I've got another stack of fabulous cookbooks to pour over, drool over, absorb and conjure up from and I for one cannot wait. There are other interesting books that I may have to add to my groaning bookshelves due out soon including the latest from Gordon Ramsay so I still really need that eighth day!

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