The Mustard Book
By Rosamond Man and Robin Weir
Grub Street, £16.99
The fiery little plant that is mustard takes centre stage in what is believed to the first authoritative book on the subject. Having been cultivated since before 4,000BC, mustard has a long and fascinating history extending through a variety of cultures which is explored with great enthusiasm in The Mustard Book.
Full of interesting details about its place in botany, horticulture and medicine, the book contains 150 recipes, which will appeal to chefs and caterers working in myriad establishments.
However, it is the rest of the book that is likely to have the greatest widespread interest, with chapters on sauces, soups, starters, fish and all sorts of meats and vegetables showing the usefulness of mustard in a variety of guises.
There are plenty of ideas reflecting a host of different cultures such as the Moroccan-inspired steamed marinated mutton, carbonnade de boeuf flamande (originating from Bordeaux) and the Italian-influenced pheasant with mustard pork in milk.
The use of mustard in years gone by crops up again with recipes such as salmis of partridge with orange mustard sauce highlighting a Victorian cooking method and duck breast with Roman mustard, inspired by the Apicius collection of recipes.
There are even pudding recipes, which no doubt stem from the occasion when co-author Robin Weir was presented with a dessert in the Venetian restaurant La Columba and asked if he could guess the secret ingredient. The dish, it turned out, was the famed Mostarda di Venezia: quinces preserved in a sugar syrup spiced with white mustard seed.
It was a result of eating that dish that the idea emerged for writing this book which today will appeal to all chefs keen to expand their knowledge of what turns out to be an extraordinarily versatile ingredient.