Stevie Parle's Dock Kitchen Cookbook: Real Home Cooking from Around the World
By Stevie Parle
Quadrille Publishing, £25
Cookbooks named for a restaurant can be a worry. Publishers love the idea as they can be sure that a sizeable number of contented diners will buy a book as souvenir of their visit. The likelihood, though, that a book so named will appeal to potential buyers scanning Amazon or browsing Waterstones is small.
Stevie Parle had been making a considerable reputation for himself and his restaurant, located just off Ladbroke Grove in West London. He cooks an eclectic mix of food from around the globe; his new book reflects this in a particularly enticing way and deserves a readership higher than any restaurant's capacity. It showcases dishes from Iraq and Iran, Mexico and Morocco, not just Spain and Italy, and the dishes look really good. Aspects of the food style - unfussy presentation of rustic-looking dishes, complex spicing of comparatively cheap ingredients - reminded me of Yotam Ottolenghi, whose food I really admire.
The book is divided by season, with a separate final chapter for puds. For those of us living in, say, rural Wales, there may be a requirement for a spot of help in sourcing the more arcane ingredients and spice mixtures.
There is a huge breadth of recipes available here. The sweet section ranges from rum baba to bergamot madeleines, by way of Sardinian chestnut honey and ricotta ravioli and a fruit crostata. The spices and breads cover Lebanese seven spice and Baghdad bharat, as well as chappati and Moroccan semolina loaves.
In the seasonal sections, Spring sees artichokes with preserved lemons, plus olives, cardamom and almonds or a dish of elderflower fritters in grappa batter. Summer has Mexican octopus and pork crackling with tomato salsa, a recipe that originated from Thomasina Miers, or sardines in chermoula with harissa.
But for me, the Autumn and Winter recipes appealed the most. How about chicken roasted in milk and sage, or a Keralan cauliflower and potato dish that just needed a piece of fish to make it a fine main course, or clams cooked in butter, Riesling and cinnamon? All will set your mind racing on what to make for tomorrow's menu.
The book also made me want to book a table, if I can get one, at the Dock Kitchen - just to be sure it all tastes as good as it looks. Maybe the publisher is right after all.
By Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor, the Walnut Tree, Lladdewi Sirrid, Monmouthshire
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