The New English Table Rose Prince
Fourth Estate, £25
This new book from food writer Rose Prince is aimed at the home cook, but there is plenty within in it to inform and inspire those working in the professional sphere, from students to established chefs.
It's centred on ingredients, and at its heart is Prince's ethos of respecting produce enough never to waste it. So, for instance, you'll get recipes for chicken thighs and legs as well as the more succulent crowns, and a reminder to make stock from the carcass. Each ingredient has an introduction, incorporating tips on quality, sourcing and varieties where appropriate.
Take her opening section on apples: this starts with a brief run-through of some common and less well-known native varieties, giving practical information about their characteristic flavour and texture notes, with indications of how best to utilise them for the table. Recipes follow, including an apple soup which could easily sit on any bistro or gastropub menu keep an eye out, too, for the russet jelly ice.
Within the recipes there are hints on how to expand or vary them with the addition of new ingredients, or accompanying dishes - good kicking-off points for chefs who want to put their own stamp on Prince's recipes. The russet jelly ice could easily be made in to a contemporary fine-dining dish with a bit of tarting up with a tuile, apple crisp or apple powder, for instance.
Prince champions British produce. It's good to see her recipes showcasing what were once staple British table ingredients such as cobnuts, barley, quince and shrimps. Wood pigeons, megrim sole, elderflower - check out the elderflower and ginger syllabub - are there, too, as are British cheeses such as Stinking Bishop. It's great to see her make room for bacon - and ham - as well as pork.
However, Prince isn't dogmatic and is happy to include other recipes utilising ingredients from beyond the UK's shores that have become mainstream in our diets: olive oil, figs and lentils, for example.
This is a practical book whose pages sing with a passion for food and a responsible way of sourcing and using it. Written with elegance, its restraint is thoroughly English.