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How to eat in – book review

07 May 2010

How To Eat In
By Adam Byatt
Bantam Press, £25
ISBN 9780593064641

As the title suggests, this is a book aimed at home cooks preparing food on a day-today basis as well as for special occasions. However, chefs will find plenty of inspiration in it for adaption in the professional kitchen.

How To Eat In provides an insight into the repertoire of Adam Byatt, who initially at Thyme and now at Trinity in Clapham, south London, has shown himself to be a chef who cooks the kind of food that people really want to eat.

Having started his culinary career working under John Williams at Claridge's, where he gained a solid classical training, Byatt went on to spend two years alongside Philip Howard at the Square, where he absorbed the flair of a Michelin-starred environment.

The result in this book is a selection of more than 100 recipes that have roots as well as the occasional flight of fancy. What unites them all is an intention to provide the means to cook and serve dishes that offer great food marriages and delicious flavours.

Byatt stresses the benefits of preparing all ingredients in advance to guide the home cook in what can sometimes be lengthy methods of preparation. All the recipes, though, are easily achievable and worth the effort. For a chef, they offer plenty of common sense tips such as the importance of the fat in a Lancashire hot pot needing to rise just to the level of the potato topping in order to glaze it during the cooking process.

Home cooks can enjoy working from the same recipes that Byatt uses at his restaurant including the Trinity bread, originally developed by pastry chef and chocolatier Damian Allsop. Other recipes adapted from the Trinity menu include a starter of razor clams with chilli, fennel and thyme; a main course of minestrone of crayfish, fregola pasta and salted courgettes; and cappuccino crème brûlée.

There is an enticing chapter on outdoor eating, with dishes such as barbecued black bream with fennel and lemongrass, which could easily be tweaked for preparing inside, as well as a useful section on staples such as dressings, dips and sauces.

All in all, How To Eat In is a useful and inspirational tome for home cooks and professional chefs alike.

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