Edited by William Sitwell
Nourish Books, £25
When approaching chefs to ask them to contribute their favourite recipes to feature in The Really Quite Good British Cookbook, William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Kitchen magazine and MasterChef critic, asked: “What do you cook for the people you love?” Over 100 recipes were contributed, from chefs and cooks including Raymond Blanc, Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigel Slater, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Nathan Outlaw and Simon Rogan.
The result, as you might expect, is diverse. Most of the recipes are easy enough to prepare, but some are more outlandish, such as Dan Doherty’s chocolate bread pudding with bacon custard. However, I would order this in a restaurant. The custard, which is a stone’s throw from Heston Blumenthal’s bacon and egg ice-cream, would definitely stand out on a menu.
British cuisine is difficult to define, but this book does a great job of highlighting the range of influences different cultures have had, whether that’s Gordon Ramsay’s beef brisket with new potato piccalilli salad or Angela Hartnett’s seasonal dish of deep-fried courgette flowers in tempura batter.
It also features classic dishes, such as toad in the hole by Valentine Warner, while Lorraine Pascale puts a spin on the nation’s most-hated vegetable – Brussels sprouts – by tossing them raw with roasted hazelnuts, lentils, raisins, pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.
The book will be useful for those wanting to expand their knowledge of the seasonality of British ingredients. For example, as part of his recipe for nettles on toast with pollack, wild garlic and poached egg, River Cottage head chef Gill Meller states: “We should all be eating more nettles – they are delicious, abundant and absolutely free.”
The Really Quite Good British Cookbook beautifully represents the diversity of British cuisine, providing inspiration to anyone wanting to add a twist to their dishes, be it with Indian spices, Mediterranean ingredients or even greens found on our doorstep.
By Katie Pathiaki
If you like this, you might enjoy these:
• Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark and Eric Wolfinger
• Bake: 125 Show-Stopping Recipes, Made Simple by Lorraine Pascale
• The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden by Aaron Bertelsen