My Kind of Cooking By Mark Sargeant
Quercus Publishing, £20
Mark Sargeant is no stranger to writing cookery books, having co-authored many of the books of his former mentor, Gordon Ramsay. So after departing from the Ramsay stable more than two years ago, it's no surprise to see him launch a book in his own right.
"I was very passionate about helping Gordon with his books and it was something I really wanted to push forward," he told Caterer and Hotelkeeper earlier this year.
"After leaving Gordon Ramsay Holdings, I had a lot of time to cook food at home and discovered a new style totally different to the Michelin-type restaurant food I was cooking before."
The release of My Kind of Cooking comes just months after Sargeant opened his first solo venture in Folkestone in his native Kent, where he runs both the Rocksalt restaurant and the Smokehouse fish and chips eaterie. Both ventures have a sense of simplicity at their heart, offering a menu far removed from the French fine-dining approach to cooking that gained Sargeant critical acclaim in the past when he was head chef at Claridge's. The focus is seasonal British produce, cooked in a simple but delicious way.
My Kind of Cooking in many ways reflects the same ethos. It's a collection of 120 recipes perfect for home cooks of all levels, with easy to follow guidelines and personalised introductions to each dish.
Divided into 12 chapters, it features a selection of homely meals ranging from British classics such as savoury mince with boiled potatoes and roast chicken to slightly more adventurous dishes like deep-fried oysters or lamb Wellington.
There are innovative elements to the book including a chapter called Tiny Morsels dedicated to British tapas, which includes recipes for sharing dishes ideally enjoyed with a few drinks. Meanwhile a chapter entitled Back to Basics lists homemade store cupboard ingredients such as preserved lemons, English mustard mayonnaise, homemade salami and a variety of stocks.
But the book's biggest selling point is arguably the fact that it concentrates on cheaper cuts of meat and types of fish that aren't usually bought by the home cook. Sargeant dedicates a whole chapter to the likes of oxtail, beef flank, veal kidneys and brains, to encourage readers to broaden their culinary horizons. He also provides recipes for less expensive and sustainable species of fish such as whelk and crayfish, which are starting to become more widely available.
My Kind of Cooking is a lovely book that showcases Sargeant's huge enthusiasm for British ingredients and simple yet intelligent cooking. It may not be a huge source of inspiration to professional kitchens, but his underlying passion and sheer enjoyment of cooking is infectious.
By Kerstin Kühn
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