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Acorn House Cookbook, Arthur Potts Dawson

14 August 2008 by
Acorn House Cookbook, Arthur Potts Dawson

Acorn House Cookbook
Arthur Potts Dawson
Hodder & Stoughton, £20
ISBN 978-0-340-95460-7

Arthur Potts Dawson's Acorn House has been one of the most talked-about restaurants in London since it opened at the end of 2006. The reason for this is not its food, although this has received a lot of praise, but the ethical and environmentally aware way in which the restaurant is run. Potts Dawson himself has been dubbed the "green chef".

So, it's no surprise that his first book should be as much a manifesto for his beliefs as it is a recipe reference. In fact, the book is pretty text-heavy and relatively light on dishes. There are no glossy photos, either, just a few illustrations. However, Potts Dawson's passion and belief in what he does leap out of the pages so much that you forgive any lingering residue of worthiness.

The main part of the book is divided into seasonal chapters - given his championing of local, sustainable produce, this is as you'd expect. Interspersed throughout are breakaway snippets on anything and everything - from the importance of bees, Fairtrade and organic produce to energy consumption and appropriate seasonal produce for any given time of year.

A section on producing food discusses issues such as sustainability, and at the back of the book there are discussions about waste disposal and composting. All very thought-provoking stuff - and issues that need to be made more mainstream.

The recipes themselves are straightforward and uncheffy, as you'd expect. Among those that catch the eye, especially for this time of year, are a version of borsch and chargrilled courgettes with chilli and lime. Butternut squash risotto done with baked ewes' milk sounds good, and a flourless peppered chocolate cake with ginger ice-cream has some classic cocoa and spice matching.

The book also follows a conventional format by having basic recipes included at the back. Nothing wrong with that - look out for a basic green pasta made with nettles.

It's good to see that Potts Dawson has managed to combine tasty recipes with an ethical philosophy that he believes in, without managing to bore the pants off his readers.

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