By Chris Honor and Laura Washburn Hutton
Mitchell Beazley, £25
You don't need to know a lot about chef Chris Honor to enjoy his collection of recipes, but it certainly adds more flavour. He runs Chriskitch in leafy north London, an 18-cover eaterie that he describes as a coffee shop trattoria. "What you see on the table at the front is what you get, and this changes daily," he says in the book's introduction.
The 200 or so pages of recipes reflect Honor's need to create flavourful food in a limited kitchen with few staff. There's page after page of tantalisingly photographed dishes, created using easy-to-find, affordable ingredients. Lambs' tongue, grape molasses, ginger and star anise, and chicken, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, chilli and rosemary in the mains stand out as looking particularly rich and saucy.
But it is possibly the fresh salads, sweet and savoury bakes, soups and sharing plates where Honor surprises the most. There's definitely nothing ordinary about his cooked salads section. It kicks off with a recipe for green beans, mint, lemon, chamomile and dill seed, which suggests using stink beans from Chinese greengrocers when in season. Then there's lentil, peppers, garam masala, almond and cherry, which offers the balance of sweet and spicy flavours alongside soft and crunchy textures.
What piqued my interest was the bit at the back with recipes for tantalising extras, such as watermelon cider vinegar; clove vinegar; mandarin salt; basil sugar; vegetable verjuice; and coconut coriander chutney. All the recipes come with a small introduction from Honor, describing where the dish hails from, how you could improve it or what you might serve it with.
But beware that some ingredients sound a little alarming, not least the soup of beetroot, ketchup, balsamic and feta. Yes, ketchup really is a key ingredient.
By Rosalind Mullen
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